The Way We Were
This past week on RAW, Eric Bischoff named the first four members of his Survivor Series team, which got me thinking: remember when Survivor Series was all about Classic Survivor Series Matches? Well, I guess they weren't classic then, but until the Gravest Challenge in 1991 between Undertaker and Hulk Hogan, all matches at Survivor Series were elimination-style tag team matches.
Flash back to 1987 with me, if you will. Ronald Reagan was in the White House, Madonna ruled MTV, and the Survivor Series was born. The tagline was "Teams of five strive to survive," and the team captains picked their teams seemingly based on cashing in on current rivalries. For instance, in the first ever Survivor Series Match, The Honky Tonk Man's team was matched up with the quintet of "Macho Man" Randy Savage, Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake and "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan. Wow, is that the all-nickname team or what? Anyway, after Honky beat Steamboat for the Intercontinental Championship in June 1987, Steamboat and his partners spent all summer chasing Honky and his title. People would pack arenas waiting to see Honky get his ass kicked, and somehow he always found a way to escape intact. Survivor Series was no different; down 3-on-1 against Savage, Steamboat, and Roberts, Honky took a walk, getting himself counted out but living to fight another day. From there, the Survivor Series was on its way.
As Survivor Series has evolved into the 21st Century, things have changed quite a bit; in fact, the Series evolved a little bit every year. The 5-on-5 format was changed to 4-on-4 in 1989, and the 10-on-10 Tag Team Elimination Match fell by the wayside as a result. The next year saw the only Grand Finale Match of Survival in Survivor Series history, where Hulk Hogan & Ultimate Warrior stood tall. In 1991, Undertaker vs. Hulk Hogan for the WWE Championship was the first non-elimination match. Then in 1992, the elimination format was put aside altogether, and the result was a spectacular main event between then-WWE Champion Bret Hart and then-Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels. Thankfully, the classic goodness returned in 1993. The list goes on, all the way to the first Elimination Chamber in 2002. No longer is Survivor Series the "Thanksgiving night tradition" it used to be; the show moved to Thanksgiving Eve in 1991, and since then has been held at various points throughout November.
With so many great moments, matches, concepts, and memories, there are a lot of things you could argue about in Survivor Series lore. Who were the greatest teams? What is the greatest match? What was the most memorable moment? You've got the first Elimination Chamber, the Montreal match between Bret & HBK, Team Orton vs. Team Triple H last year, and so on.
As you may have figured out, I'm a list guy. I love giving my opinion in lists; they're fun to compile, they leave lots of room for discussion...and hey, they're fairly easy to write. I'm not going to lie to you there. With two weeks before this year's edition of the Survivor Series, I'm going into deep-thought mode. And today, ladies and gentlemen, I will whet your appetite by presenting a mini-list: Louie Dee's Three Favorite Survivor Series Moments!
Coming in at No. 3 is 1993's match between Team Bigelow and the Four Doinks. For this those who are unfamiliar, let me clarify the situation. Back in the day, Doink the Clown and Bam Bam Bigelow had a hot rivalry, so Bam Bam recruited Bastion Booger and the Headshrinkers for his team. Doink announced that his partners would be...Doink, Doink and Doink? Indeed, as when it came time for the match, out came the Bushwhackers and Men on a Mission, dressed in their own gear but with clown face paint and wigs. Whether or not the Insane Clown Posse got their gimmick from watching Oscar rap them down to the ring, I don't know; but if you've never seen it, it's worth it. The match was perhaps one of the funniest ever, and while Team Doink was successful, Doink himself was never even in the match. I can still watch that and laugh my ass off, and if you think Viscera looks cool in his jammies, you should see him dressed up in purple with a green clown wig.
At No. 2, it's a moment from 1996: Bret Hart pins Stone Cold Steve Austin. If you've never seen this match, go out and rent Survivor Series 1996 NOW. As brutal and violent as their WrestleMania 13 match was, this was one of the most technically awesome matches ever. After months of Austin tormenting Bret while he was on sabbatical, Bret the Hero returned to vanquish his foe...but it turned out to be only the beginning of the war that helped change WWE's fortunes. Thirty minutes of non-stop excellence...and of course it helps that I'm also a huge Bret fan. Psst, he's on Byte This! on Nov. 16, you might want to check that out. Psst again, his DVD comes out the day before that. It's really good.
And at the top of my list, of course, is a moment I will always remember because I was there: the debut of Undertaker. There I was, on Thanksgiving 1990, sitting in the upper deck of the Hartford Civic Center with my buddy and his dad. Ted DiBiase introduced the Undertaker, and he came out to the first version of his trademark funeral march. The moment he stepped through the curtain, I was hooked. He was huge, and he dominated every second he was in the ring. You could tell from the minute he arrived that he would be a force, and it took him exactly one year to win the WWE Championship. 15 years later, Undertaker is still No. 1 in my book, wherever he is right now.
Over the next couple weeks, I'm going to consult with my colleagues (and perhaps the Academy of Wrestling Arts & Sciences) and come up with my thoughts on the Greatest Matches and Greatest Teams in Survivor Series history. Until then, feel free to check out the Survivor Series history site here on WWE.com, or splurge the four bucks and buy yourself a subscription to WWE 24/7 Online. There's a lot of good Survivor Series stuff on there.
And hopefully, by the time I make my opinion known, SOMEONE will hook me up with a little email gimmick so I can hear what you have to say.