South Park is one of the finest comedic series ever made. Period. Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s crudely animated creation has acquired its share of controversy over the years, but the fact remains that if it was simply low-brow toilet humor, it wouldn’t have lasted 20 years, and the duo’s impressive body of work wouldn’t be so critically praised.
That said, no body of work is perfect, and South Park has had its share of misfires over the years. Sometimes its attempts at edginess just come off as mean-spirited, while other times their insane production schedule simply churns out a sloppy product.
With that in mind, it’s time to take a look at what I personally consider to be the worst episodes of South Park. A disclaimer before we get going: no episodes from the first 4 seasons are being considered here since many of those episodes have a very different feel and were before they really found their voice. Additionally, mere forgettable episodes are not being considered either. For something to be considered the worst, it has to create a strong emotional reaction in the first place. This does mean that some fondly remembered episodes may be placed here due to elements I find personally objectionable. Though it will be impossible to separate my personal politics entirely, the goal is nonetheless to show how and why some of their offensive gags and stories don’t always work.
Without any further delay, let’s dive in…
The sad thing is, this episode could honestly be considered one of the best of the series. The follow-up to their 200th episode, it contains so many callbacks and references to the shows’ history that it can’t help but make any South Park fan happy. They don’t stop there though, as they take these elements and manage to craft a grand, hilarious story with drama, high stakes, and themes that build upon some of the show’s biggest ideas.
With that much going for it, why on Earth does it belong on a worst list? One reason: this is the first time (and only time, as of writing this) that an episode of South Park got heavily censored before going to air.
Really think about that. South Park, as crass it can be, always aims to be able to say whatever they want. It may not always work, and they can cross the line (as this list demonstrates), but their willingness to fearlessly tackle taboo subjects makes them a vital part of the cultural discussion.
But here, as they reexamined the taboo of depicting the Muslim Prophet Muhammad, death threats made towards the pair forced Comedy Central to bleep out every mention of Muhammad’s name. Not only that, but they also bleeped out the entire ending monologue, which left the show feeling gutted and robbed of its commentary.
One could argue that being robbed of its commentary was itself the commentary, but given how the first part went by untouched, it can’t help but feel like they were muzzled against their will. And while people are more than free to express their disgust for what Matt and Trey advocate at times, they should still be free to say it in the first place.
All of that baggage sadly drags down an otherwise great episode, and cementing its position on this list.
Season 18 brought about a new element for South Park that had never been fully explored before: continuity. While most episodes effectively hit the reset button after each episode (most notably obvious with Kenny’s frequent deaths in the earlier seasons), this season took a different angle by actually carrying over specific elements.
The first episode began with the boys ditching school, and the second one has them return with everyone still remembering that fact. That episode ends with a one-off joke of Randy being dressed like Lorde that developed into its own seasonal arc for the character. It was a mostly successful experiment, breathing new life into the show and leading to them continuing this trend for future seasons.
That said, all ongoing stories need a conclusion, and as this season was nearing its end, it only seemed fitting to tie up all of the loose ends they’d built up. The problem was, if their “6 days to air” schedule hadn’t already tipped you off, they’re clearly just making this up as they go, not caring how it ties into the overall narrative. Though they got better with this in the following year, “#HappyHolograms” just comes off as a random hodgepodge of references, with forced conflicts, and unfocused themes. South Park works when the creators have something to say, but all they have to offer here is that the new generations’ fascination with Let’s Plays is weird. That’s it. The commentary on social media is lacking, and the celebrity lampooning on hand here is shallow in comparison to their other takedowns in the past.
It’s just a mess of an episode with a lot of wasted potential.
#8. It’s a Jersey Thing
Like “201”, this is an otherwise great episode that’s brought down by one bad element. Unfortunately, this time it’s Matt and Trey who must take the blame on this one. The plot of the episodes involves people from Jersey being so numerous and influential that they are spreading across America like a horde of zombies. That’s a pretty funny take on how huge and inescapable The Jersey Shore and Real Housewives of New Jersey were at the time. The problem comes with how the denizens plan to save themselves, by seeking Al Qaeda’s help.
That’s a pretty shocking joke to make in the first place, but disregarding the offensiveness, the joke simply doesn’t work. It’s too simple an idea; that The Jersey Shore is so bad that even terrorists look better in comparison, so they end up having nothing to say about it. Meanwhile, while The Jersey folk in the show are portrayed as annoying and hostile, not coming close to feeling comparable to Osama Bin Ladin, so the comparison is too distant. The way they escalate the joke by having Al Qaeda operatives actually crash planes directly on the people from Jersey also feels way too mean-spirited for no real benefit. Finally, the way they try to excuse this edginess by having Bin Laden killed off at the very end just feels like a cop-out to save face. It’s one thing to be tasteless, but to not have the courage of one’s convictions feels cowardly, and just gives the whole episode a sour taste.
That said, it’s still relatively low on this list because there’s a lot of really great jokes too. Having all the people from Jersey cut away from the moment to talk to the camera is hilarious, as is their depiction of a “Snookie”. Kyle also has some great moments, as his transition into a person from Jersey mimics classic werewolf transformations.
Had they cut out the mess with Al Qaeda, this could have been an instant classic. As is, it’s sadly one of times where them crossing the line backfired tremendously
The first half of season 15 sadly has one of the weaker batch of episodes Matt and Trey have worked on. With the exception of the stellar “You’re Getting Old”, none of the episodes from that run left much of an impact. While they were mostly forgettable, the weakest of that bunch is probably the “HumanCentiPad”.
South Park borrows references from pop culture all the time, but they work best when they weave seamlessly with the story. Here, the connection between Apple and the Human Centipede is so mismatched that it really felt like they just took two idea balls from a manatee tank and smashed them together.
It’s sad because they could have made a clever commentary on how people are so infatuated with Apple that they’ll buy anything from them, or that people will be so quick to shrug off how the products they consume can indirectly hurt others. Any messages like that though are rushed out at the end as the majority of the episode seems intended to focus on the gross-out nature of The Human Centipede itself. That’d be all well and fine, but they don’t really add anything new to it; it just feels like a lazy reference.
And while there are some good gags, such as Cartman treating his not getting an iPad as being molested, or how messed up those endless “user agreement” statements can be, they get tired fast and can’t propel the episode to anything great. It just made South Park feel tired and dated which, oddly enough, made “You’re Getting Old” all the more potent.
6. Toilet Paper
As much as South Park likes to be topical in addressing current issues, sometimes it remembers that its protagonists are just a bunch of fourth graders, and they decide to just let the boys be boys and see where that goes. This has led to some great episodes like “The List”, “Awesome-O”, “Pre-School”, to name a few, but this dud from the 7th season is not one of them.
What does it in is, again, how simple the gag is. The boys TP one of their teacher’s houses, and that simple act of childish mischief is treated as serious as a murder. That may be enough to sustain a 3-minute sketch, but for a whole episode, there’s just not enough meat on the bones. It seems like Matt and Trey knew this, as they incorporate a Hannibal Lecter-type character to fill out the rest of the story beats, and while those parts aren’t bad, they can’t help but feel tired given how often Silence of The Lambs had been referenced in other media at that point.
The funny thing is, from this very run they had a similar “boys will be boys” episode that worked way better called “Lil’ Crime Stoppers”. What’s great about that one is that it preserves the boys’ innocence in playing detective as the world around them gets increasingly crazier. Or better yet, there’s an episode of Spongebob Squarepants,where the characters go through a similar cycle of guilt and broken friendships. The twist is that it was over something as innocuous as stealing a balloon on national free balloon day. By having both the boys and the authorities take the Toilet Paper attack so seriously, it results with just having nothing but absurdity bouncing around with nothing grounded in reality to keep it in check.
The Mandalorian “Chapter Two: The Child” Muses on Morality Whilst Getting Muddy
The Mandalorian Season 1 Episode Two Review: “Chapter Two: The Child”
The benefit of The Mandalorian‘s soon-to-be weekly releases is that it gives times to ruminate on the preceding episode. Case in point: Werner Herzog’s mysterious “Client” is clearly part of the “Imperial Remnant” — in new Star Wars canon, the fractured factions of the formerly very centralised Galactic Empire. It makes sense that these groups would be so disparate in the ensuing power vacuum, and now Herzog’s already ominous “good to restore the natural order of things after a period of such disarray” is far, far more terrifying for the state of the galaxy.
That sort of information percolates at the back of the mind when watching The Mandalorian’s “Chapter 2: The Child,” which draws on the audience’s existing knowledge of Star Wars to elevate the piece far more than the first episode. While “The Child” is squarely focused emotionally on character relationships, there is significant interplay between viewers and the screen through Rick Famuyiwa’s direction of showrunner Jon Favreau’s script, creating dramatic irony, visual symmetry, and a certain degree of fan-service. Indeed, the first few minutes of the surprisingly short thirty-minute episode is almost a condensed redux of R2-D2 and C3-PO’s escapades on Tatooine in A New Hope. There’s even a Jawa sandcrawler!
In the same way that Rogue One’s chaotic man-to-man confrontations help set the tone for that film, the Mandalorian slugging people while his burgundy armour glints amongst the orange hues of the canyon encapsulates the grimily poetic atmosphere that “The Child” possesses.
Unlike the Jawas capturing R2-D2, or Luke Skywalker being knocked out by Tusken Raiders, the Mandalorian acquits himself much more successfully against his Trandoshan ambushers. Director of Photography Baz Idoine and his team’s coverage of the melee combat is engaging and clear. The cinematography keeps the impacts of the twirls, slams, and shoves centrally framed in mostly full and medium shots, as the Mandalorian wields his long blaster like a staff, then snipes the assailants as they run towards his bounty in a particularly satisfying long shot.
It feels quite similar to the combat in Rogue One, which shouldn’t be surprising given that Idoine previously worked as the second unit director of photography. In the same way that Rogue One’s chaotic man-to-man confrontations help set the tone for that film, the Mandalorian slugging people while his burgundy armour glints amongst the orange hues of the canyon encapsulates the grimily poetic atmosphere that “The Child” possesses. It makes stabbing through muddy, matted hair beautiful.
This review has held off necessarily spoiling the big reveal at the end of the last episode for long enough. If you’re somehow reading this and haven’t seen “Chapter One,” (insert Jedi mind trick) this is not the review you’re looking for.
Fifty-year-old baby Yoda is adorable! Disney’s got its latest sold-out toy just in time for Christmas. So the Mandolorian now has himself a baby “Yodaling” to keep track of at all times; its innocent eyes observe both the delight of dune frogs and the brutality with which Mando kills and literally obliterates enemies. In the aforementioned fight scene, editor Andrew S. Eisen intercuts between shots of the Yodaling watching serenely, but also shots from the Yodaling’s perspective.
Focusing in on the Yodaling’s viewpoint throughout the episode is probably Famuyiwa’s best decision as director — not only because it makes the puppet feel real and not a prop, but the child is a constant reminder that bounty hunting (and killing) has a ripple effect on others. Part of Star Wars’ appeal has always been fancifully designed characters shooting some mooks, and although The Mandalorian indulges in this pleasure, it also seems to be slowly deconstructing mythic qualities. Actions have consequences, and this Yodaling acts as a yardstick to measure Mando’s morality against.
This all lends itself to the ambiguity pervading the “Chapter 2: The Child.” There are many wide shots where Mando walks through valleys and across the rocky outcrops with a floating pram in tow, with Mando and the Yodaling spread far apart, visually illustrating an emotional gulf between them. As the episode wears on, however, their physical separation in scenes closes until Mando is not-quite gently rocking the sleeping baby. He could be abruptly attempting to coddle as an awkward parent, but he also could also just be making sure his prize still is alive so it will “survive and bring [him] a handsome reward” (when Kuiil says this, does he mean emotional fulfillment or money?). As is often the case with Mandalorian bounty hunters, the question of intent is left to subtext and nebulous silence.
Actually, apart from a few grunts here and there, Mando says nothing at all for the episode’s first ten minutes. In lieu of talking, the handheld cinematography, with its close-up shots or momentarily going out of focus when Mando is disorientated, tries to convey the bounty hunter’s mental state. It’s also interesting to see the armour itself act as an evolving symbol for Mando as person. Where in “Chapter One” the addition of the shoulder plate suggested a form of exterior wholeness, “Chapter 2: The Child” sees Mando continuously fixing an increasingly tattered and fractured suit. Mando’s scarred childhood, as shown in “Chapter One,” clearly still torments him, and his emotionally suppressive stoicism may just have been broken through by meeting this baby.
The muteness is also ripe for some cartoonish, exaggerated visual comedy to break the solemnity. Mando setting the Yodaling down, only for the baby to immediately trot over, is like watching the antics of Jerry and baby Nibbles from Tom and Jerry. And after an action sequence recalling Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’s tank climbing, Mando then mimics Wile E. Coyote as he falls off a sandcrawler. Pedro Pascal’s comic timing whenever he cocks his head in disbelief or sighs deeply is hilarious. Even composer Ludwig Göransson has some fun, playing a ridiculously triumphant trumpet piece as Mando’s convoy trudges slowly through pouring rain. As in “Chapter One,” “Chapter 2: The Child” modulates its tone expertly to naturally weave these extremes in.
Part of that may be because the story is so pared back, and the location is evocative enough to bleed into and dictate the wistful atmosphere. Famuyiwa lets the stunning red palette of the landscape’s geological formations and sunsets take prominence throughout, and it lends visual consistency. Tangentially, “Chapter 2: The Child” comes as close as Star Wars ever has to observing the principles of theatre laid down in Aristotle’s Poetics, taking place on — and never shifting from — the red planet Arvala-7 (unity of place) and having the single driving dramatic action of leaving the wasteland behind (unity of action). That it ditches Aristotle’s rule that a drama should only take place across a single day validates Kuiil’s claim last episode that one needs a Blurrg to traverse the terrain.
Speaking of Kuiil, he might just be the nicest character in Star Wars thus far. For the second episode in a row, he declines Mando’s earnest offer of payment, saying, “you are my guest and I am therefore in your service.” The service that comes with hosting ends, however, and therein lies the difference. As he says, “I have worked a lifetime to be finally free of servitude.” It is possible that we or Mando will not see nearly enough of Nick Nolte’s loveable character going forward, but the impact he has had on Mando is quite profound — especially Kuiil’s faith in his guest’s abilities, despite never having met a Mandalorian. After Mando returns with the goods needed to barter back parts that were stolen from his ship, he says, “I’m surprised it took you so long;” if the Yodaling is a test of morality, then Kuill is a kind, humanising force for Mando.
Therefore, the fact that this idiosyncratic, wise, old Ugnaught cannot remotely understand a phenomenon of The Force demonstrates the extent of the impact the Jedi Purge in the aftermath of Order 66 (Revenge of the Sith) had on eradicating not only Force users, but knowledge of its existence as well. The Yodaling’s Force sensitivity is not a surprise. Surely the use of Yoda’s species was to clue the audience in as soon as possible, because otherwise they could have used many other species, as was done in The Clone Wars’ “Children of the Force” or Rebels’ “The Future of the Force.”
The purpose of accentuating the dramatic irony in this story is as yet unknown, but the reliance on an awareness of Star Wars’ wider canon is intentional. Anyone with knowledge of Darth Sidious’ attempts to raise and experiment on an army of Force-sensitive children would probably suspect the same aims for Omid Abtahi’s “Dr. Pershing.” However, the Sequel Trilogy is the real looming spectre for The Mandalorian. “Chapter Seven” releases on the same day as The Rise of Skywalker, so it’ll be interesting to see whether there are any direct connections. However, while the galaxy is vast, the knowledge that the First Order eventually rose up, and that Luke Skywalker’s attempts to establish a new Jedi Order failed, makes this story of the Mandalorian and his child a potentially very tragic and futile one. So we should enjoy the quiet moments while they last.
That said, Padawan Ezra Bridger from Star Wars Rebels is currently out there and presumably surviving in the post-Return of the Jedi period where The Mandalorian is set. So maybe this will be a happy ending if Ezra lasted through the terrors of the Empire!
If I recall correctly, Yoda died at 900 years old, and said he had been training students for 800. So he must have been at least a Jedi Knight by 100 years old. Maybe the next 50 years for the Yodaling will be full of rapid growth? It already has wrinkles!
On that note, how long are Yodaling foetuses stuck gestating in the womb? Actually, scratch that — I don’t need to know.
The assassination of IG-11 in “Chapter One” obfuscated my thinking, but there are at least three factions after this baby: Herzog’s group who hired Mando, whoever hired IG-11, and the group protecting the child that the duo eliminated.
Also, Mando’s prejudice against droids (and everyone’s) makes sense given that number of Confederacy droids annihilating everyone during the Clone Wars, including his home as seen in the flashbacks (benefit of Disney Plus: The Clone Wars is available to rewatch).
Can somebody please adapt Lone Wolf and Cub? Please?
Apple TV+’s The Morning Show Both-Sides Itself Into Prestigious Irrelevance
The Morning Show’s mix of flashy performances and one-dimensional writing makes for one of 2019’s more intriguing misfires.
One of Apple TV+’s early projects was a Whitney Cummings-helmed comedy firmly rooted in the #MeToo movement – unsurprisingly, it was canceled when Apple executives balked at the idea of hosting such politically charged content.
Then Hillary Clinton’s press secretary walked in with a #MeToo-themed drama based on a CNN’s anchor’s poorly-reviewed book, and Apple said: “Here’s $300 million.”
Everything about The Morning Show bows at the temple of Late Sorkin, shows whose neutered centrist politics bleed through indulgent monologues, carelessly crafting limp arguments and diatribes around events nakedly parallel to our own world.
The strange optics are a rather apt reflection of Apple TV+’s The Morning Show, one of the more confounding high-profile dramas in recent years. Comparisons to Aaron Sorkin’s HBO disaster The Newsroom might seem lazy and obvious, but there’s really no comparing it to anything else. From shot composition to dialogue and performance, everything about The Morning Show bows at the temple of Late Sorkin, shows whose neutered centrist politics and indulgent monologues, carelessly crafting limp arguments and diatribes around events nakedly parallel to our own world.
It, unfortunately, begins with one of 2019’s worst pilots, a grating 63-minute introduction to its world of morally compromised broadcast news players. As it builds out its world of producers, lackeys, stars, and C-suite executives, The Morning Show‘s first (and most of its second) hour painfully imitates the worst Sorkin-isms with glee, a series of painfully overt character introductions and an overwhelming feeling the script is about five years behind on the many conversations it wants to have about gender, power, political conflict, and the state of broadcast news.
At the center of it all is Jennifer Aniston, relishing in the decidedly two-dimensional Alex Levy, host of the eponymous show-within-a-show. When the delicate balance she’s found between being a mother, a star, and a serious contributor to the morning show culture, is disrupted by sexual misconduct allegations against her co-host Mitch Kessler (Steven Carell, doing the best he can with it all), it becomes an inflection point in her career.
To her credit, Aniston justifies the hype of her streaming debut; her committed performance allows her to run the full emotional gamut of Alex’s life, grounding her with an emotional restraint I only wish carried through to the writing. Both to its benefit and detriment, it writes around its star, offering Aniston all the room in the world for showy, dedicated, awards bait. And though it carefully avoids falling completely into a series of tropes and cliches about women almost having it all – and what they’re willing to sacrifice to achieve it – there’s no denying how the basic notes of her character are pounding over and over in early episodes, to dull effect.
The same goes for Reese Witherspoon’s Bradley Jackson, a woman whose Libertarian opinions and rough edges have stalled her career as a try-hard journalist… for a conservative news outlet (twist!). In the pilot, Bradley gets fired for yelling at someone during a protest against the coal industry, a speech that absolutely belongs in the Both Sides-ism Hall of Fame. Experienced and naive, whip-smart but held back by her own intelligence, Witherspoon’s overbearing presence as Bradley combines with some of the show’s clumsiest writing, an unremarkable attempt to subvert expectations on multiple levels.
Jackson’s character begins to come together by the third hour (once Jay Carson, the show’s creator, was fired and no longer credited on scripts), after she’s thrown unexpectedly into the mix by an Alex Levy power move; “unexpected” in that Bradley didn’t see it coming, though it is painfully obvious to even the most casual observer where the first 110-plus minutes of plot is heading. But it’s a painful road to get there, one full of asides about blue-collar upbringings and frustrations with the left and right (centrism, baby!), with the obligatory tinges of bad mom drama and professional insecurity.
Bradley’s character becomes an unfortunate mouthpiece for all the issues The Morning Show is woefully equipped to handle; the fossil fuel industry, what’s wrong with broadcast news… and in “That Women,” abortion, when she accidentally (or…??) reveals what the show treats as a Deep, Dark Secret of her past… and then immediately drops as an actual plot halfway through “That Woman,” folding it into the background noise that is the capital-d Drama surrounding the fictional Morning Show.
(This happens on her second broadcast, I might add, during her attempt to subtly undermine the wickedly facile dialogue being fed to everyone from cue cards and teleprompters.)
The benefit of having such a large, talented cast and prestigious directors (Mimi Leder and Lynn Shelton direct three of the first four hours) does allow The Morning Show to occasionally stumble into being quite watchable. There’s strange chemistry to the cast, and it combines with the sharp direction to breathe life in between the many instances where The Morning Show trips over itself with bloated plots and repetitive character beats.
There are a number of scenes in the third and fourth episode that are genuinely compelling, in a sadistic kind of way: the writing and performances are so confident and dedicated to what they’re trying to say, even when it is blindingly obvious The Morning Show is ill-equipped to catalyze on the many compelling ideas it throws into the mix. It can be fun to watch, an incongruous relationship between style and substance that is occasionally intoxicating in the sheer ludicrousness of it all.
But mostly, The Morning Show is just tiring in its dissonance, and its clear horniness for moderation and careful reinforcement of systemic norms – it is more interested in getting participation trophies for being in complex sociopolitical conversations, than actually having a concrete point of view on anything (it’s like the anti-Superstore in a lot of ways). The first four episodes are a confluence of elements, brash lead performances clashing with the naturalistic work of the show-within-a-show characters around them, all trying to convincingly deliver the dramatic equivalent of sugar-coated chalk. There are certainly some tasty, addictive qualities to The Morning Show; but those delicious morsels are overwhelmed by the bitter, archaic nature of its central narrative and episodic flow.
It is certainly fascinating to watch a show consistently jump in the deep end without knowing how to swim – it’s just not entertaining to watch The Morning Show flounder around helplessly scene after scene, a creative misfire of epically-budgeted proportions.
$300 million and those are the best opening credits you could come up with? Dots?
It is interesting how Steve Carell is listed among the main cast; he is not in these first four episodes very much – and when he is, it offers some of the show’s most uncomfortably strained writing.
This show constantly cuts to a shot of a clock alarm going off at 3:30 am. Literally every day that passes on the show, we get Bradley or Alex slamming the alarm off. WE GET IT.
Mark Duplass co-stars as the longtime producer of The Morning Show; of the show’s collection of idiotic male characters, his Charlie is rather carefully constructed. It is unexpectedly strong, and stands in interesting contrast to Billy Crudup’s Cory Ellison, a network executive Crudup clearly relishes in making a brash, exaggerated performance.
There’s a subplot about a simpleton weatherman (the always-welcome Nestor Carbonell) and the young producer he’s hooking up with. She’s apparently from a rich, influential family? It kind of feels like this show’s 2019-ified take on Sports Night’s Jeremy and Natalie.
Yes, there is an episode that ends with an acoustic version of Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger”… spoiler: it is the episode that has a Kelly Clarkson cameo.
Karen Pittman chews up scenery as Mia, a very pragmatic producer, and Bradley’s guiding hand.
The second episode focuses pretty intently on Alex’s role as a mother… and then her daughter basically disappears without mention? I’m sure they’ll come back to it, but boy does The Morning Show like to go on tangents and forget its many, many, many side plots.
Oh man, there is an awful, awful scene where Martin Short plays an unnamed director, who talks with Mitch about what they’ve done, and how they can try and return respect to their names. And then Mitch reveals he knows the director is an “actual rapist,” and presumably decides not to make a documentary with him? It is so weird and distonal, and feels like The Morning Show presenting a weird moralistic litmus test to Mitch.
A Brief History of Survivor Series: A Cornerstone of WWE
Relive Some of the Biggest Moments in Survivor Series history
There are a few pay-per-views that are mainstays of WWE’s annual slate of offerings. SummerSlam. Royal Rumble. WrestleMania. Kids grow up dreaming of wrestling at these shows, and Survivor Series is one of them. The classic Survivor Series match is a five-on-five elimination bout, featuring a variety of top stars as well as up and coming wrestlers. It provides an important showcase for WWE’s talent, some of which don’t always get pay-per-view time.
Besides that, it’s a lot of fun for fans to watch.
Over the years, Survivor Series has produced a number of career-defining moments for the talent involved and those moments can mean everything. This is the pay-per-view that kicks off the build-up to WrestleMania, the ultimate goal for all WWE wrestlers.
The 2019 event is even more interesting than past iterations because of its incorporation of talent from NXT for the first time ever, pitting their champions against Raw and SmackDown. If fans were looking for a statement as to how seriously WWE is taking NXT as its own brand, matching NXT against their long-standing brands accomplishes that. Let’s look back at some of the most memorable moments of the event.
Bret Hart’s Survivor Series History
Many of the biggest moments in Survivor Series history happened outside of the actual namesake match. One of the most infamous moments in WWE history, The Montreal Screwjob, happened at Survivor Series 1997. Knowing Bret Hart was leaving WWE and wanting to make sure he didn’t take the belt to WCW, Vince McMahon ordered a fast count during Hart’s match with Shawn Michaels.
Hart’s response was infamous and understandable, his long feud with both McMahon and Michaels only coming to a relatively recent end.
Hart had a part in another big moment, this time at Survivor Series 1996. One year before The Montreal Screwjob, Bret Hart faced off against a young wrestler name Stone Cold Steve Austin who was looking to make a name for himself. Thanks to this match, he would do it. While it’s not often recognized as such, this match was the start of Austin taking the wrestling world by storm and building a legendary career that fans still talk about.
Notable Survivor Series Debuts
A WWE franchise player, The Undertaker himself debuted at Survivor Series 1990, starting arguably the most legendary run for any gimmick in wrestling history. The next year at Survivor Series 1991, The Undertaker would go on to defeat Hulk Hogan for the World Championship and cement his legacy as ‘The Phenom.’
The Undertaker wasn’t the only wrestler to debut at the venerable pay-per-view. The Shield, a faction that would go one to produce three major singles champions, made their first main roster appearance at Survivor Series 2012. They came through the crowd and destroyed both John Cena and Ryback on behalf of CM Punk. The legendary Sting made his first WWE appearance at Survivor Series 2014, attacking Triple H and setting up a WrestleMania match between them.
Asuka also achieved glory at Survivor Series 2017 as part of her build-up to WrestleMania. She was a member of the Raw Women’s Team, putting in a typically dominant performance. Asuka was the sole survivor, winning the match for her brand and eventually going on to win the first Women’s Royal Rumble match.
Unfortunately, she didn’t win her match at WrestleMania, a loss that took months and months to recover from. Now, it seems like she’s finally back on track alongside Kairi Sane as the Women’s Tag Team Champions.
Many big names have been sole survivors, as well. Roman Reigns, Kofi Kingston, Andre the Giant, and Lex Luger have all held that distinction. The likes of Ric Flair, The Rock, and Dolph Ziggler have been sole survivors on two separate occasions each. Randy Orton holds the unique distinction of being a three-time sole survivor, though that’s no surprise for ‘The Viper.’ He is nothing if not a survivor.
Now. Then. Forever.
The big four pay-per-views will always have a special place in the hearts of WWE fans, and Survivor Series is no exception. While every moment on screen plays a role in building a successful wrestler, showing up and showing out in big moments like this set the tone for the rest of the year.
Some of the biggest names in WWE history have made their names at Survivor Series, possibly even more so than WrestleMania. Survivor Series was created to play off the success of Andre the Giant versus Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania III. Both men led their own teams at the inaugural event, featuring some of the biggest talents of their time.
That continues today as modern talent use this traditional pay-per-view event as a means of launching careers. It’s one of those events young wrestlers grow up dreaming about.
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