Every November, World Wrestling Entertainment, holds a show that is different than any other. Once known as a “Thanksgiving Tradition,” the main focuses of the Survivor Series are teamwork and survival. The top matches at this event involve teams of four or five “doing battle” until an entire team is eliminated. I will talk about some of the “traditional Survivor Series elimination matches”, along with other unforgettable moments from the November spectacle.

The first Survivor Series event took place in 1987. The main event featured two teams of five, led by Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant. On Hogan’s side were: “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff, Don Muraco, Ken Patera and Bam Bam Bigelow. Andre headed a team comprised of: The One Man Gang, King Kong Bundy, “The Natural” Butch Reed, and Rick Rude. Fans were excited with this showdown, because they wanted to see Hogan and Andre wrestle again.

Butch Reed was the first competitor eliminated. He was pinned by Hulk Hogan after “the Hulkster” used his famous leg drop finisher. Next, was a battle between Ken Patera and The One Man Gang. Patera tried to attack his much bigger opponent, but to no avail. The Gang maximized his overwhelming size and strength to “cut down” his opponent. With Ken down on the mat, the One Man Gang delivered a big splash, pinning and eliminating his opponent.

Paul Orndorff then entered the ring to face Rick Rude. As “Mr. Wonderful” gained control, King Kong Bundy distracted him, allowing Rude to roll up his opponent for the pinfall elimination. Don Muraco then entered and quickly eliminated Rude with a powerslam. Almost immediately after, The One Man Gang eliminated Muraco with a big splash. So, Hogan’s team was at a disadvantage. It was Hulk Hogan and Bam Bam Bigelow against Andre, Bundy, and The Gang.

The two captains brawled outside the ring. But, Andre was able to return to the ring as the referee was counting to ten, while Bundy and The Gang prevented Hogan from re-entering. As a result, “The Hulkster” was eliminated by a count-out. The spectators did not like seeing their hero out of the match. So, Bigelow was left to battle three behemoths.

Bam Bam was able to eliminate Bundy, with his Slingshot splash, after a grueling battle between the two. The One Man Gang tried to use his signature move, the big splash on Bigelow, but he missed, and was pinned. The final fight for survival was between Bam Bam and Andre the Giant. Bigelow fought with every bit of strength to become the sole survivor. But, Andre’s power proved to be too much. His size was overpowering, and his strength surpassed his opponent by leaps and bounds. A suplex ended the match, and he became the sole survivor. The fans were disappointed with the outcome. They wanted Hogan to be the survivor.

A few years later, in 1990, the Survivor Series saw the debut of an athlete who was tall, scary, serious, and very intimidating. He is…..The Undertaker, and he went on to have an amazing career in the WWE. He debuted as a member of the “Million Dollar Team,” headed by Ted Dibiase. The other members of team were Rhythm and Blues (The Honky Tonk Man and Greg “The Hammer” Valentine.) Opposing them was the “Dream Team”, led by “the American Dream” Dusty Rhodes, who teamed with Koko B. Ware and The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart.)

The Undertaker made an immediate impact on his team, by eliminating Koko B. Ware with his Tombstone (reverse piledriver). Jim Neidhart entered the ring to face The Honky Tonk Man. After a couple minutes of action, the powerhouse of the Hart Foundation, “The Anvil” eliminated his opponent with a powerslam. He didn’t have much time to celebrate, as he was swiftly pinned, and outfoxed by Ted Dibiase. Dusty Rhodes and The Undertaker had a tough battle, which saw “the Deadman” pin “the American Dream” with a move off the top rope. Unfortunately for the Undertaker, he was the next one eliminated, as he was counted out for going after the opposing captain.

Greg Valentine entered to fight Bret Hart. Valentine was about to attempt his figure-four leglock finishing hold on his opponent, but Bret reversed it into a small package roll up, for the pin, leaving Hart and Dibiase to settle it. Bret performed a flying splash from the top rope on to the opposing captain, to no avail. “The Million Dollar Man” pinned “The Hitman,” and was the sole survivor for his team. The audience was disappointed that Bret didn’t pull out the win, but the story of the match, was the debut of the Undertaker. Today, he continues to be an extremely dominant force in World Wrestling Entertainment. He is a superb athlete, who is businesslike and who uses tact. He provides great entertainment, while demonstrating no emotions.

Starting in 1991, the Survivor Series went through a little change. While the focus was still on the elimination matches, the WWE added regular battles (one-on-one and tag team bouts.) This is something I do not like, because it makes the show feel like it’s not as special as it once was. But, the company has always found a way to make the matches entertaining. The 1998 Survivor Series did not have any “Traditional Elimination Matches,” but a one-night, 14 man tournament, was held to determine a new WWE Champion. The themes of survival and elimination were still a key part of the show. There were some of big names, like “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Undertaker and The Rock, and McMahon used them as his marketing tool. This worked, and fans were drawn like magnets to the event.

One of the matches in the tournament’s opening round featured Steve Austin against The Big Boss Man. It was a very hard-fought and brutal showdown, which ended when the combatants were outside of the ring. The Boss Man grabbed hold of his nightstick, and assaulted his opponent with it, causing the referee to call for the bell. The attack was brutal, and fans were left with their jaws hanging. Austin won the match by disqualification. The Big Boss Man was eliminated from the tournament, or so it seemed.

Later in the first round, The Rock was scheduled to go against Triple H. But, the match was canceled because of an injury. The Big Boss Man, however, returned to fight The Rock. The match did not last long. As soon as the Boss Man ran into the ring, The Rock rolled him up for the pin. The Rock advanced in the tournament.

The opening match of the second round pitted the Undertaker against Kane. The ending came when the two giants grabbed each others throats to perform their chokeslam moves. Kane connected with his. However, prior to pinning his opponent, ‘Taker’s manager, Paul Bearer, distracted Kane, which allowed the Undertaker to nail his Tombstone piledriver for the pin. As a result, the Undertaker advanced in the Championship tournament.

The final match of the tournament featured The Rock against Mankind. It was a great, tough battle. The conclusion came when The Rock executed his “Rock Bottom” side slam. Instead of going for the pin, he went for a submission – the Sharpshooter, made famous by Bret Hart. Mr. McMahon (Vince McMahon’s “bad guy” character), ran to ringside, and ordered the referee to ring the bell, even though Mankind did not submit. The crowd reacted with shouts of jubilation, as well as boos. The Rock became the new World Heavyweight Champion because of McMahon’s outside interference. After the match, it was revealed that Vince, Shane (Vince’s son, who was the referee of the match) and The Rock were in collusion the entire time, causing the fans to turn on The Rock.

The Survivor Series has always been an exciting show, primarily because of the elimination matches. These elimination matches very often resulted in stars being born, and where new, young athletes begin their climb to a higher status. The event brings roars, chants, boos and loud shrieks from the thousands of fans who lose their voices, cheering their favorite wrestlers.

Azeem Kayum

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