MR. TITO: Top WWE Survivor Series Moments Submitted by Mr. Tito on 11/26/2020 at 10:15 AM
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HAPPY THANKSGIVING and welcome back to the EXCELLENCE IN COLUMN WRITING that is exclusively brought to you here at NoDQ.com. Since I began producing columns during October 1998, I always tried to make it a point to post a column during a Holiday. For one, it's sort of a gift to my long-term readers but two, I feel that I can maximize my readership when I post something of quality when people least expect it. My thinking is that after you've devoured a Thanksgiving turkey or have opened your Christmas presents, you have a ton of downtime afterward and might need something to do as you're sitting around for the rest of the day.
Then, low and behold, a brand new Mr. Tito column suddenly appears...
Here we are for the THANKSGIVING SPECIAL edition of the Mr. Tito Experience. What shall we talk about today? Well, WWE Survivor Series USED to air on Thanksgiving back in the day. In fact, its creation was due to the WWE wanting to screw with NWA's Starrcade Pay Per Views that used to air on Thanksgiving. Following Wrestlemania 3's major success, Vince McMahon wanted to corner the Pay Per View market and strong-armed Cable companies at the time that if they did not air Survivor Series 1987 instead of Starrcade 1987, he would not offer Wrestlemania 4 to them during 1988. Obviously following Wrestlemania 3's success and WWE's growing popularity, Cable companies blinked and folded to WWE's demands. The end result caused Crockett Promotions to lose a ton of money for 1987 and would help force their sale to Ted Turner during 1988.
Funny how things work out... Had Vince McMahon just minded his own business, he could have kept a smaller owner in Jim Crockett to remain in charge of NWA and would have kept a billionaire Ted Turner out from ownership. It was Ted's money that would later cause WCW to become not only competitive with the WWE by 1995 but then beat the WWE repeatedly in the Monday Night Wars from 1996-1998 with WWE reportedly having money troubles during early 1997.
For today, I just want to simply state my favorite or relevant WWE Survivor Series moments. Then, maybe as a few of the newer readers see this, they could log into WWE Network and relive that show's top moments.
OBVIOUSLY, the Montreal Screwjob from WWE Survivor Series 1997 comes to mind. What happened, for those who did not know? As I mentioned above, the WWE had some money issues during 1997 as their TV ratings dipped and their attendance/merchandise was poor. Much of WWE's front office took major paycuts (this caused JJ Dillon to leave and join WCW) and wrestler contracts and payouts were reviewed. WWE let talents like Mr. Perfect Curt Hennig and other former WWE wrestlers leave and join the growing NWO stable. During mid 1996, Bret "the Hitman" Hart's WWE deal expired following Wrestlemania 12 and he took time off for various Hollywood opportunities and for family reasons. According to Bret, there was a bidding war between WCW and WWE. Eventually, WWE re-signed the Hitman and it was a 20 year contract that paid him about $1.5 million per year up front and this deal would see him joining upper management as he became older.
However, there was a 1 year out clause if the WWE decided to take it... With money being tight, WWE's desires to push Steve Austin as the eventual #1 guy, and the ongoing friction between Bret and Shawn, the WWE saw it fit to execute that 1 year out clause. Problem is that when the WWE did this, Bret Hart was still WWE Champion. Worse yet, WWE wanted him to specifically wrestle Shawn Michaels at Survivor Series 1997 BUT Bret Hart refused to drop the title to HBK. Another clause within that 20 year deal is if the WWE executed its 1 year opt out clause, Bret has "Creative Control" over the last 30 days of his contract. Bret used that to REFUSE to lose to Shawn Michaels and WWE wanted Bret vs. HBK at Survivor Series.
So what do you do? Well, you screw Bret and that's what Jim Cornette reportedly suggested to Vince McMahon and Vince ran with it. During the match, there was a moment when Shawn Michaels tried to slap on the Sharpshooter on Bret and Bret would reverse that. However, referee Earl Hebner, who was threatened before the match to call the match at that specific spot, called for the bell to indicate that Bret Hart tapped out to Shawn's Sharpshooter.
When I saw this match during Survivor Series 1997, my jaw dropped along with the big room of high school friends at the time. We could not believe what we were seeing... We have NEVER seen that before in Pro Wrestling where something went off script AND it specifically screwed a particular wrestler. Back then, we knew of the internet rumors that Bret Hart was leaving for WCW and when we saw this screwjob, we all knew instantly what it was about. I remember one of my friends remarking that it was "funny that Vince McMahon and other WWE officials were at ringside for this". And then after the match, Bret iced it by spitting in Vince's face.
IN MY OPINION, Bret could have buried the WWE in a lawsuit had he not (a) spit in Vince's face and (b) punched out Vince afterward. Both could be flagged as assault charges (obviously part b more than part a) and thus ruined any opportunity to challenge the terms of Bret's contract for those last 30 days. And Bret Hart had AUDIO and VIDEO of it all happening thanks to the Wrestling with Shadows crew! But he had too much pride and had to deliver a punch to the man that screwed him and in my opinion, probably helped cease Vince McMahon from screwing another wrestler ever again. Bret knocked him out!
This move changed the business FOREVER... It freed up the WWE some financial resources to pay younger talent, it opened the door for guys like Kane, Mick Foley, Steve Austin, Undertaker, and the Rock to become full blown Main Eventers, and it gave WCW another overpaid older wrestler to deal with in a locker room full of overpaid older wrestlers. Bret just didn't fit that WCW vibe back then and it proved that before Survivor Series 1997, Vince McMahon creatively got the best out of the Hitman.
I LOVE Survivor Series 1998... LOVE IT. For anyone who criticizes the storytelling of Vince Russo, WATCH THIS SHOW. The story of the WWE Title tournament was magnificent, specifically the angle about Shane McMahon and then converting the Rock into the Corporate Champion. Shane was in an angle where Vince McMahon was upset at him and demoted him to WWE referee. Shane became the referee during the Steve Austin vs. Mankind semi-final and then in a moment where Shane was going to count a pinfall for Austin, he stopped counting and flipped Austin off. Vince's stooges then attacked Austin and that caused Foley to advance into the Finals, thinking that he was the Corporate pick to win the title. WRONG... Little did Mankind know that the Rock was the Corporate pick and Vince McMahon proceeded to screw Foley in that finals to make the Rock become the WWE Champion. This would set off an AMAZING Foley vs. Rock feud that fed into a HUGE Rock vs. Austin match at Wrestlemania 15. I would argue that Survivor Series 1998 through Wrestlemania 15 is the BEST creatively that the WWE has ever been. GO WATCH THIS SHOW!
But I would also check out Survivor Series 1995 AND Survivor Series 1996. 1995 has an EXCELLENT Main Event between Bret Hart and Diesel (Kevin Nash), 5 Stars in my opinion. It was superb and one of the best big/little man matches ever done. And then afterward, Kevin Nash was pissed at the roll-up finish and attacked Bret Hart. On this very day, this created the Kevin Nash badass character that helped make the New World Order into a devastating force during mid 1996. Why did the WWE not try this version of Nash before when he was WWE champion? Makes no sense...
1996's show has 1 great match and 1 great moment... Obviously, Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin was a great match. Certainly not as good as their Wrestlemania 13 match, but this match put Steve Austin in the spotlight and this was Bret's first match since Wrestlemania 12. The guys worked perfectly together and put up an amazing match. The moment is Sycho Sid winning the WWE Title. I LOVE me some Sid Eudy! I don't care if his promos are bad or if he's not the most fundamental wrestler out there. He looks like a total badass out there and that's what matters to me in worshipping the MASTER & RULER OF THE WORLD, baby! I was so happy that he won a World Title at this point. So if you are reading this Sid... You always have a fan here. You're freakin' awesome and I always make it a point to watch your Skyscrapers match against the Ding Dongs from NWA/WCW often.
As you're watching Undertaker month on the WWE Network, you'll note where Undertaker debuted... Survivor Series 1990! I remember watching that show as it happened and was SO HAPPY that this highly talented guy who was from NWA/WCW landed a great spot in WWE. I thought highly of "Mean" Mark Callous and thought he was incredibly gifted as a big man. The guy used to run across the ropes like it was nothing and I'm always weak for any wrestler doing the Heart Punch back then. He looked and acted the part as the Undertaker and was an instant success. Then, just ONE YEAR LATER, he defeats Hulk Hogan at Survivor Series 1991 to win his first WWE Title. Holy cow that was shocking back then (though Taker was extremely careful on wimpy Hogan for that Tombstone).
So far, I've talked only about singles matches... What about those 4 on 4 or 5 on 5 elimination matches?
Obviously, the first Survivor Series (1987) was fun with the Tag Team showdown and then getting another piece of the Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant feud. But what the early Survivor Series elimination matches gave us was unique match-ups that we never saw before. You need to realize that before 1996, wrestling shows were mostly consisting of jobber matches and then a semi-decent main event to headline that show. The top guys NEVER wrestled each other on the Television shows and saved those match-ups for Pay Per Views or fought on houseshows. For many of us, the 5 on 5 elimination matches would be the first time that we'd ever see a Rick Rude get a chance at Hulk Hogan in some sort of a match, for example, or maybe see how Bam Bam Bigelow could match up with Andre the Giant or King Kong Bundy. THAT is what made Survivor Series GREAT and diminished once the Monday Night Wars hit and started to make every match on the card have a purpose.
Look some of the older teams back then... During 1989, Hulk Hogan teamed up with Jake "the Snake" Roberts and Demolition. LOOK AT THAT TEAM! 1990 saw the "Warriors" with Ultimate Warrior, Road Warriors, and the "Modern Day Warrior" or Texas Tornado Kerry Von Erich as a freakin' team. LOADED TEAM with all time greats! The promos by that team, especially with the Road Warriors and Ultimate Warrior, were classic! Worth checking out on YouTube. The shows were meant to be fun and the competitive elimination style matches created lots of drama... Something that Survivor Series 2020 forgot.
Sadly, from the 1990s shows, I just don't remember the shows as well... If we had Wrestling Trivia covering Survivor Series shows during the 1990s, I would dominate all of you. Go beyond that, well, it just became another show. Having Monthly Pay Per Views + burning out all of the great match-ups thanks to RAW and Smackdown happening for at least 2 hours per show (RAW now for 3 hours)... Reportedly, WWE tried to eliminate Survivor Series from happening during the early or mid 2010s. They knew that it just wasn't relevant any longer. To me, the 1998 show was the last GREAT Survivor Series show until it morphed into something irrelevant. Even the 2001 Survivor Series show did nothing for me, as the WWE versus the ECW/WCW Alliance Match was a JOKE. Seriously, when your Team WCW/ECW team only has ONE ECW guy (Rob Van Dam) and ONE WCW guy (Booker T) out of the 5 members (Austin, Angle, and Shane freakin' McMahon were the other 3 members)... Just sad. It was the final nail in the coffin known as WWE Creative for their mishandling of the WCW and then WCW/ECW Invasion angle of 2001.
And then Survivor Series 2002 gave us the first Elimination Chamber... It was different, to say the least, and the structure was impressive when seeing it for the first time. Good to see Shawn Michaels win the World Heavyweight Championship, at the very least.
After that, well, I'm just not feeling it...
I thought that Brock Lesnar brought a few AWESOME matches to Survivor Series during 2010s... I don't care what anyone says, but I liked Bill Goldberg's SHOCKING defeat of Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series 2016. The squash was structured perfectly to mask Goldberg's age and talent and all of our jaws collectively dropped at the result. I LOVED their following Wrestlemania match even more. And then Lesnar follows that up with EXCELLENT matches with AJ Styles at Survivor Series 2017 and with Daniel Bryan at Survivor Series 2018. Both Styles and Bryan are much smaller than Lesnar YET he sold for them. Goes to show you how much he respects them as talents and how he didn't respect Dean Ambrose (now Jon Moxley in AEW). Funny how that works, how has Moxley's matches been in AEW? I believe Lesnar was right...
The last moment that I can remember was Sting making his official WWE debut at Survivor Series 2014. It's a shame that Sting waited until he was 55 years old to make this debut, but I cannot blame him for cashing those easy TNA paychecks in for an easy schedule. His bank account is laughing... It was so surreal to see Stinger in a WWE arena and staring down Triple H to help Team Cena defeat Team Authority. Sadly, their Wrestlemania 31 match was cringeworthy thanks to the injected Monday Night Wars angle into the match and Sting losing.
Obviously, I could just look through cards and extract that "hey, I remember that"... But it's Thanksgiving and it's time to go be with my immediate family, not travelling this year thanks to COVID-19 quarantining us.
I just want say a few things before I go... I'm very THANKFUL for you, my readers. Many of who you have been with me for over 2 decades and many of you have joined me throughout the years. I also have many new readers thanks to me joining NoDQ.com during August 2020 after a long career at Lords of Pain. I'm also very THANKFUL to have worked for 2 great organizations that have provided me the freedom to write whatever I want about pro wrestling AND whenever I want. Very blessed to have known Calvin Martin and Aaron Rift. I couldn't ask for 2 better Webmasters in this business to provide me an opportunity to present my unique wrestling thoughts. THANK YOU to all of my readers and to the websites themselves for making Mr. Tito possible. I woudln't be here without you.
Hopefully, you've gained some unique WWE Survivor Series perspective and instead of watching MISERABLE football games today, as the Ravens/Steelers game was postponed and we're stuck with Lions and Cowboys games... Log into your WWE Network and checkout some awesome Survivor Series moments. Definitely give the 1998 show a try, as that WWE Tournament is awesome and kicked off the peak moments of the WWE Attitude Era in my opinion.
THANK YOU, as always, for reading my columns. I'll keep producing them if you keep reading them. I love you guys and gals!
So just chill... Until the next episode!
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