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The 15 greatest Survivor Series teams ever
Thanks to the endlessly fun format of the Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Tag Team Match, the WWE Universe has witnessed the teaming of unlikely allies, the forging of new partnerships and the combining of singular talents that, under normal circumstances, would have no reason to team together. WWE fans have seen dream teams come into reality and, on occasion, the implosion of presumably unbeatable four- and five-man squads.
Through it all — the 27 Survivor Series events and dozens of Traditional Elimination Tag Team Matches — some groups have simply stood out above the rest. Whether it was due to their unique, never-before-seen lineups or their superbly impressive performances, here are 15 Survivor Series squads worth celebrating.
Team SmackDown (Rey Mysterio, Randy Orton, JBL, Batista & Bobby Lashley)
Opposition: Team Raw (Shawn Michaels, Kane, Big Show, Carlito & Chris Masters)
Blue-brand loyalty coursed through the veins of the Batista-led Team SmackDown in 2005, as the five-man ensemble put aside their individual differences long enough to overcome an imposing Team Raw. Underscoring SmackDown’s shocking cohesiveness were several key eliminations that stemmed from tandem efforts. For example, Rey Mysterio pinned Big Show after a deluge of high-impact finishing moves executed in succession, including JBL’s Clothesline from Hell, Mysterio’s 619, Orton’s RKO and, finally, a springboard senton by The Ultimate Underdog.
Orton outlasted Team Raw’s HBK to become the match’s sole survivor, but despite what may appear to have been a singular accomplishment, there’s no denying that Team SmackDown only earned the “W” thanks to their teamwork. They may not have liked each other, but that didn’t stop them from gelling as a team. — JOHN CLAPP
The Rude Brood (Rick Rude, Mr. Perfect & The Fabulous Rougeaus)
Opposition: Roddy’s Rowdies (Roddy Piper, Jimmy Snuka & The Bushwhackers)
Rick Rude had a clear aesthetic in mind when he assembled his squad in 1989. Unlike The Rude Brood’s happily unkempt opponents — featuring the scalp-licking Bushwhackers and barefooted Jimmy Snuka — Rude’s clan fancied themselves pretty boys who caused women to swoon. The stark contrast in styles held true from an in-ring grappling perspective, too.
Whereas Piper’s team was full of brawlers, Rude surrounded himself with second-generation Superstars known for their technical proficiency. Elitist, country-club cocky and prone to get lost in their own mirrored reflections, the composition of The Rude Brood just seemed right. Ultimately, Mr. Perfect — who was undefeated in WWE heading into Survivor Series 1989 — wound up as the bout’s lone survivor, ensuring his record remained unblemished … not unlike the meticulous appearance of his team. — J.C.
Razor Ramon, Randy Savage, 1-2-3 Kid & Marty Jannetty
Opposition: IRS, Rick Martel, Diesel & Adam Bomb
Razor Ramon’s first rodeo as a Survivor Series team captain came in 1993, and The Bad Guy cut no corners in assembling a versatile, era-spanning four-man unit that wound up victorious. He also had little interest in letting old gripes influence his choice of teammates, as he enlisted two former foes, 1-2-3 Kid and “Macho Man” Randy Savage, to join his cause. (Only months earlier, Razor was famously upset by Kid on Raw; a year earlier, at Survivor Series 1992, Ramon teamed with Ric Flair to take on Mr. Perfect and 1993 teammate Savage.)
Even though both Ramon and Savage lost falls and were eliminated, The Bad Guy was rewarded for his let bygones-be-bygones mentality. Kid and Jannetty survived the attrition and overcame their oversized opponents for the win. It was a feel-good team if there ever was one. — J.C.
Aja Kong, Bertha Faye, Lioness Asuka & Tomoko Watanabe
Opposition: Alundra Blayze, Chaparita Asari, Kyoko Inoue & Saki Hasegawa
At first glance, Bertha Faye’s team of Japanese women wrestlers looked as at-home in a WWE ring as Art Donovan at a commentary table. Though the pigtailed, kaleidoscopic-attired Faye picked backup who held little to no name recognition with the 1995 WWE Universe, the performance of the team was stellar, and Kong’s effort that night, in particular, became the stuff of Survivor Series lore.
Battling a four-lady crew captained by then-Women’s Champion Blayze, Faye’s team endured an early elimination (Asuka) before Kong entered the bout and cleaned house. Then the national spokesperson for orange juice in Japan, the 230-pounder quickly squashed opponents Hasegawa, Asari and Inoue like ripe Valencia oranges, eliminating all three in just more than a minute’s time, before back-fisting Blayze out of the picture. “It’s about competition, it’s not really about looks,” color commentator Mr. McMahon said, moments before Kong’s closed fist scrambled Blayze’s face. — J.C.
Team Kingston (Kofi Kingston, Mark Henry, R-Truth, Christian & MVP)
Opposition: Team Orton (Randy Orton, Cody Rhodes, Ted DiBiase, CM Punk & William Regal)
In 2009, Kofi Kingston assembled a team of WWE’s toughest do-gooders on the roster — Montel Vontavious Porter, Mark Henry, R-Truth and Christian — to face off against a cadre of devious competitors. Randy Orton gathered his Legacy of Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase, and added former World Heavyweight Champion CM Punk and the veteran William Regal. The teams took turns dispatching each other’s members until Orton stormed the ring and nailed Christian with an RKO, leaving Kofi to fend for himself against Punk and The Viper.
Kofi and The Second City Savior battled back and forth with The Apex Predator gazing on from ringside. Kingston had his former tag team partner well scouted and reversed a roll-up attempt to eliminate Punk. Orton slithered onto the canvas, but was nailed in the skull with a Trouble in Paradise instantaneously. Within six seconds, Kofi had eliminated two of the most skilled World Champions in WWE history. Now that’s a big moment. — ZACH LINDER
Randy Savage, Ricky Steamboat, Jake Roberts, Jim Duggan & Brutus Beefcake
Opposition: The Honky Tonk Man, Hercules, Danny Davis, Ron Bass & Harley Race
The first match of Survivor Series 1987 was also the debut of the Survivor Series Elimination Tag Team Match, and all eyes were on the 10 participants competing in this inaugural contest. What made “Macho Man” Randy Savage’s team great that night was the smart, skillful and savvy way they conducted themselves, as evidenced by how the bout progressed. It ultimately boiled down to an uncomfortable scenario for The Honky Tonk Man, as he wound up going solo against Savage, Steamboat and Roberts. After being shaken and rattled, Honky rolled out of the ring and into the night, making Macho Man, The Dragon and The Snake the winning survivors. — WWE HALL OF FAMER HOWARD FINKEL
Shawn Michaels, Ahmed Johnson, Sycho Sid & British Bulldog
Opposition: Yokozuna, Owen Hart, Razor Ramon & Dean Douglas
This intriguing hodgepodge of talent — fan favorites Shawn Michaels & Ahmed Johnson teaming with baddies Sycho Sid & British Bulldog — is the result of a one-off concept WWE tried out in 1995: a Wild-Card Match in which the members of two opposing teams were selected at random. Besides being a confounding lineup, the HBK/Johnson/Sid/Bulldog mashup was also a well-balanced representation of latter-day New Generation WWE.
In November 1995, The Showstopper was racing his way toward his first WWE Championship, British Bulldog had just ditched his trademark braids, Sid was a dominating force and Johnson was a hulking rookie in possession of an exhilarating powerbomb variant known as the Pearl River Plunge. In short, the team was an incredible package of talent, even if all the members did not see eye-to-eye. The only Superstar on the quartet not to “survive” was Sid, who ate a Superkick from teammate Michaels en route to being pinned. — J.C.
Andre the Giant, Rick Rude, One Man Gang, King Kong Bundy & Butch Reed
Opposition: Hulk Hogan, Bam Bam Bigelow, Don Muraco, Paul Orndorff & Ken Patera
At the inaugural Survivor Series in 1987, the legendary Andre the Giant captained a squad of super-heavyweights capable of destroying anything put in front of them — whether it was Bam Bam Bigelow, Hulk Hogan or a six-foot sub. Intent on crushing The Hulkster six months removed from their iconic WrestleMania III collision, Andre and manager Bobby Heenan grouped the combined 900 pounds of King Kong Bundy and One Man Gang with the buffed pairing of Rick Rude and Butch Reed to form the most titanic five-man faction of all time.
The group’s combined mass of nearly a ton was simply too much for The Immortal One and his imposing team of Ken Patera, Don Muraco, Paul Orndorff and Bam Bam Bigelow to handle. Ultimately, The Eighth Wonder of the World’s team proved dominant, but it’s hard to tell what would be worse — having to face the mammoth squad in the ring or getting seated in-between them on an international flight. — RYAN MURPHY
Team Guerrero (Eddie Guerrero, John Cena, Big Show & Rob Van Dam)
Opposition: Team Angle (Kurt Angle, Carlito, Mark Jindrak & Luther Reigns)
With the benefit of hindsight, historians can point to this Survivor Series 2004 collective put together by WWE Hall of Famer Eddie Guerrero and observe, for example, that the foursome boasts more than 20 World Titles among them. Less quantifiable is the immense charisma and star power that radiated from Latino Heat, the Cenation leader, The World’s Largest Athlete and The Whole Dam Show.
The true appeal of Team Guerrero, however, was the stylistic dichotomy at play. Taking the thunder-and-lightning dynamic of many legendary tag teams and doubling it, Team Guerrero paired two of WWE’s all-time greatest high-flyers, Latino Heat and RVD (masters of the Frog Splash, both), with two of the most physically imposing Superstars ever in Cena and Big Show. With that combination of hiccup-quick aerial strikes and unrelenting power, it’s no wonder Team Guerrero plowed through Team Angle. — J.C.
The Visionaries (Rick Martel, The Warlord and Power & Glory)
Opposition: The Vipers (Jake Roberts, Jimmy Snuka & The Rockers)
If any team proved that the whole is, indeed, greater than the sum of its parts, it was Rick “The Model” Martel’s Visionaries in 1990. Only six teams have achieved perfection — that is, beaten their competition without losing a single fall, a single member — in Survivor Series history, and the very first unit to clear this hurdle was The Visionaries. In some respects, The Visionaries’ four-to-zip trouncing of Jake Roberts’ Vipers may have been the pinnacle of the four Superstars’ astonishingly title-light careers in WWE.
Plus, they looked like a team: One glimpse at the official group photo showing Power & Glory with matching red-flame sunglasses, Hercules with his steel chain, The Warlord with a metallic half-mask and Martel holding his atomizer is enough to know that The Visionaries placed a premium on looking cool … or at least, looking like a team with a large prop budget. — J.C.
The All-Americans (The Undertaker, Lex Luger & The Steiner Bros.)
Opposition: The Foreign Fanatics (Yokozuna, Ludvig Borga, Quebecer Jacques & Crush)
Fresh off his cross-country “Lex Express” bus tour that summer, American hero Lex Luger saw fit to surround himself with his compatriots to do battle — on Thanksgiving Eve and in Boston, no less — against The Foreign Fanatics. Whatever lingering doubt there may have been that The Total Package’s allies — namely, the notoriously independent Undertaker — would not share his passion for the red, white and blue was quashed as soon as The Phenom formally accepted a spot on the team and opened his black trench coat to reveal a lining of Stars and Stripes.
Outpouring of patriotism aside, The All-Americans was a dream team for the fact it paired a quintessential WWE original, The Undertaker, with three Superstars whose greatest success came while competing in WCW. The fearsome foursome would have excelled in any era, but the opportunities for all four Superstars to team together were few and far between. Survivor Series 1993 just happened to be one of those rare lucky nights when the stars (and stripes!) aligned just right. — J.C.
Team WWE (The Rock, Big Show, The Undertaker, Kane & Chris Jericho)
Opposition: The Alliance (“Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Booker T, Rob Van Dam, Kurt Angle & Shane McMahon)
The 2001 edition of WWE’s fall classic was no middle-of-the-road Survivor Series. This time, it was winner-take-all, literally. Following WWE’s acquisition of WCW in March of that year, the Atlanta-based organization banded together with the recently defunct ECW to form The Alliance in July. After nearly half a year of intense battles, the two factions agreed to face off in one final clash at Survivor Series with Traditional Elimination Tag Team Match rules.
To ensure the future of his organization, Mr. McMahon assembled a dream team comprised of five of the greatest Superstars of all time: The Rock, Kane, Undertaker, Big Show & Chris Jericho. The defenders of WWE proved their might and claimed victory over the likes of ECW’s Rob Van Dam, WCW’s Booker T, WCW owner Shane McMahon, Angle and Austin. Perhaps appropriately, the match came down to The People’s Champion and The Texas Rattlesnake. The Great One stood tall as the sole survivor, effectively ending The Alliance and solidifying WWE’s dominance in sports-entertainment. — Z.L.
The Hulkamaniacs (Hulk Hogan, Jake Roberts & Demolition)
Opposition: The Million Dollar Team (Ted DiBiase, Zeus & The Powers of Pain)
When The Million Dollar Man put together a team with monsters like The Powers of Pain and The Human Wrecking Machine, Zeus, then-WWE Champion Hulk Hogan didn’t have to search far for willing partners. To counter the massive Barbarian and Warlord, Hogan enlisted their most bitter rivals, World Tag Team Champions Demolition. And to get the ultimate mental advantage over The Million Dollar Team, he brought in Jake “The Snake” Roberts. Roberts’ penchant for mind games paid off before the bell even rang at Survivor Series 1989. To get DiBiase and his cronies out of the ring, “The Snake” unleashed his pet python, Damien, on the canvas.
Even though The Million Dollar Team’s nefarious tactics took out all of their opponents besides Hogan, it eventually came back to bite them. Zeus was disqualified for refusing to release a chokehold on the WWE Champion, The Powers of Pain were tossed for a vicious double-team attack and DiBiase was overpowered by The Hulkster. Despite Hogan being the sole survivor, The Hulkamaniacs remain one of the most star-studded and well-loved Survivor Series teams of all time. — BOBBY MELOK
Team DX (Shawn Michaels, Triple H, CM Punk & The Hardys)
Opposition: Team Rated-RKO (Edge, Randy Orton, Johnny Nitro, Gregory Helms & Mike Knox)
No team has represented the past, present and future of WWE better than the squad put together by D-Generation X at Survivor Series 2006. Shawn Michaels and Triple H, two of the most decorated Superstars in WWE history, brought Matt and Jeff Hardy into the fold, which offered the team a wealth of high-flying, daredevil attributes. But what surprised many, including the rest of Team DX, was the reaction their partner CM Punk got in Philadelphia.
DX couldn’t even get through their trademark pre-match spiel without being drowned out by the WWE Universe’s chants for The Straight Edge Superstar, who was just five months into his WWE career. Triple H relented, letting Punk have his line, asking the crowd, “Are you ready?” Team DX certainly was;. Shawn Michaels eliminated Mike Knox just seconds after the bell rang, kicking off a clean sweep of Team Rated-RKO. — B.M.
The Warriors (Ultimate Warrior, The Texas Tornado & The Legion of Doom)
Opposition: The Perfect Team (Mr. Perfect & Demolition)
At the peak of his powers after having defeated Hulk Hogan for the WWE Title at WrestleMania VI, Ultimate Warrior brought together the single greatest squad in the history of WWE’s Thanksgiving week tradition to battle Mr. Perfect and the Demolition triumvirate of Ax, Smash & Crush in the opening bout of the 1990 Survivor Series. Looking less like a group of WWE Superstars and more like a collection of comic book heroes who had busted out of the ink panel and into the real world, The Warrior’s warriors combined the WWE Champion’s frenetic energy with the barroom ruggedness of the most dominant tag team in wrestling history, The Legion of Doom (aka The Road Warriors), and the athletic brilliance of “The Texas Tornado” (and onetime “Modern Day Warrior”) Kerry Von Erich.
The four most popular Superstars in WWE outside of The Hulkster at the time, the pumped-up squad whipped the Hartford Civic Center into a lather as they brought the fight to the so-called Perfect Team. The heated enmity between Hawk & Animal and Demolition caused both teams to be disqualified for reckless brawling early, while Texas Tornado fell victim to the dreaded Perfect-Plex. Warrior was not to be denied, though, as he put Perfect away with a resounding splash. In the end, Mr. Perfect & Demolition proved they were far from pushovers, but it would have taken an attack from Dr. Doom to halt The Warriors. — R.M.