MR. TITO: The Top 10 Greatest Moments from WWE Survivor Series

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my long-time readers, more recently acquired readers, and the NoDQ universe. I usually try to pride myself to provide a column during Holidays, as sort of a “thank you” for reading me and just to give readers “something to do” as they are digesting large quantities of food while being disappointed by Lions/Cowboys football games. Plus, thanks to recent politics, getting together with family can be a struggle and this column could give you a chance to “zone out” for a while.

For the past few years, I’ve written about things to be “thankful” about within the wrestling business. However with WWE Survivor Series happening this weekend on the 25th, the timing couldn’t be more perfect to discuss top Survivor Series moments from the past. This was actually the 2nd Pay Per View franchise that the WWE created, as Wrestlemania was the first. It was created after the wildly successful Wrestlemania 3 during 1987 as a means to keep the Hulk Hogan vs. Andre “the Giant” feud going and as a way for the WWE to rake in more cash.

The cool thing about the older Survivor Series 5 on 5 match-ups was that it was often the first time, on television, that you’d see main roster wrestlers actually match-up. Back then, WWE’s television shows were mostly top stars making light work with jobbers from local areas and the main events were typically consisting of midcarders. WWE saved its big matches for houseshows, Main Event shows, or Pay Per Views. Hence, you actually cared about this show because of the different wrestlers actually interacting on television for the first time. This formula died during the mid 1990s thanks to the Monday Night Wars where jobber matches were removed and everybody wrestled each other weekly to over-expose both WWE and WCW in the long-run. Monthly Pay Per Views exposed the rosters more, too.

Unlike today where the Survivor Series is maybe the 5th top WWE show of the year, if that (especially since it was almost cancelled), Survivor Series was legitimately the #2 or #3 show of the year. I’d argue #2 because SummerSlams always felt like a sequel to Wrestlemania whereas Survivor Series seem to be the beginning of the reset that prepared for next year’s Wrestlemania. Honestly, it took a while for the Royal Rumble format to really catch on, as it didn’t have the #1 contendership built into it initially and Wrestlemania main events didn’t really mean that much between Wrestlemania 6 and Wrestlemania 12 (or maybe WM 14). When WWE had top stars like Austin and the Rock, then the Royal Rumble match mattered to wrestle one of them.

Survivor Series seems to have some added attention lately with Triple H rebranding it as WarGames. Personally, I don’t like that as the 5 on 5 match-up could still hold up if booked properly. No, not those STUPID RAW vs. Smackdown match-ups for bragging rights where everybody wears the red or blue shirts to act like they cared about their brand extension… Years ago, I suggested that Survivor Series have a main event 5 on 5 elimination match where the winners get Royal Rumble slots in between 20 and 30 (like maybe 22, 24, 26, 28, and 30) and the losers are slotted within the first 10 (1, 3, 5, 7, and 9). That would place a major “sense of urgency” to the Survivor Series match and has a nice build to the Royal Rumble event. The winning and losing teams could argue who gets each of those slots, as obviously starting earlier and entering later matters.

Instead, we’re just hosting an event because it’s during November, we’ll see both men and women beat each other senseless in a cage that tries to reimagine what WCW did back in its day. You can’t replicate it, nor should you place your athletes in dangerous situations that could cause injury and time off television shows. Cage matches just aren’t what they used to be.

Ignoring the shows of today, let’s talk about the great moments of the past when Survivor Series mattered significantly to the business. If you haven’t seen the below moments yet, they are worth checking out on your WWE Network on Peacock.

Mr. Tito’s TOP WWE Survivor Series Moments

These are moments, and not specifically about match quality. Don’t cry about me not giving out 5 stars to things, please…


#10 – Sycho Sid wins the WWE Title against Shawn Michaels at Survivor Series 1996
Sid Eudy gets a ton of unnecessary hatred online by wrestling fans… They’ll call him “Softball Sid”, “Scissors Sid”, they’ll laugh that he broke his leg trying to jump off the top rope, they’ll mock his hilarious gaffes during his promos, or ridicule his in-ring ability. Do you know what I say to that? HOW DARE YOU? How dare you mock the master and ruler of the world like that. SID IS GREAT!

Yes, I’m well aware of his issues. But look at the damn man. You couldn’t reconstruct a pro wrestler like him if you tried. He looks like an absolute monster and that’s often all you need for this business. Just look the part and at least try on the other end of things… I was captivated when I first saw him in WCW with the Skyscrapers Tag Team and I repeatedly watch their WCW squash match against the Ding Dongs whenever I can. I never saw a Powerbomb before and was blown away when I saw Sid first hit one. Holy cow… Then, Sid joins the WWE as Sid Justice and I was salivating for the master and the ruler of the world to get his hands on Hulk Hogan.

OK, that WWE run didn’t work out for 1992… And then he returned to WCW and that didn’t work out either, though to Sid’s credit, I loved how he stayed in character for the disastrous Shockmaster debut during 1993. But Sid comes back to the WWE as the replacement bodyguard for Shawn Michaels during 1995 for Diesel and that eventually helped turn Shawn Michaels babyface when Sid turned on him. Possibly playing off the scissors attack on Arn Anderson story from WCW and the mystique around him generally, WWE began calling him “Psycho Sid” and eventually the idiots on the WWE marketing team changed that to “Sycho Sid” as if North America fans didn’t know how to spell the word “Psycho”.

But that Sycho Sid theme music… LOVE IT! I just started driving through 1996 and I rigged a portable CD player to play in my car. I had WWE – The Music Volume 1 and would BLAST that music down the road as if I were something. Jim Johnston is a genius and just added to the lore of Sid, just as the awesome Scorpions song made the Skyscrapers seem badass in WCW.

Things weren’t going so well for the WWE during 1996 following Wrestlemania 12. Hall and Nash bolted for WCW and Bret Hart took the entire Summer and part of Fall off. Michaels won the WWE Title at Wrestlemania 12 but really didn’t have much of a follow-up act. Bulldog and Vader weren’t great opponents at that time, with due respect to their entire careers, and Mankind was still an unknown to WWE fans (though their Mind Games match opened many eyes). HBK was taking tons of blame for WWE not doing so well against a surging WCW that was running on NWO fuel. Vince McMahon believed in Michaels as champion, however, so they created a storyline arc where he’d lose to Sid at Survivor Series 1996 but regain the title back at Royal Rumble 1997 which was in his hometown of San Antonio.

Thus, Sycho Sid was the beneficiary of this booking arrangement and he BEAT Shawn Michaels for the WWE Title. For many of us fans who loved the Skyscrapers in WCW and had high hopes for Sid Justice in the WWE, this was vindication… Sid had finally reached the top of the mountain, even if he had to bash Michaels with a television camera to help him win. It didn’t matter, as the fans in attendance were cheering for Sid to win because Michaels wasn’t as good of a babyface as we was a heel. Plus, they all knew that the master and ruler of the world was due.

And yes, because this is MY COLUMN, I just ranked this Survivor Series 1996 moment over another big moment on this same event. Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin occurred on this show and that feud was pivotal in the evolution of Stone Cold Steve Austin becoming a major character down the road. Plus, it was Bret’s return match… However, Bret and Austin would have a bigger moment later down the road that mattered more as Austin was still a dastardly heel and Bret was still in full babyface mode. Austin’s promos before this match, however, were the stuff of legends with him mocking Bret for wearing pink among many other things.

But come on… Sid won his first World Title here and it wouldn’t be his last, as he’d quickly recapture that WWE Title when Michaels “lost his smile” following Royal Rumble 1997. Thanks to that, Sid was able to headline Wrestlemania 13 as WWE Champion and that is quite an accomplishment (not headling Wrestlemania was part of why CM Punk quit the WWE in 2014). A neck injury that required surgery would end his WWE run but we’d later see him resurface in WCW during 1999-2001 for a solid run. Yes, that era gets mocked, but Sid was actually a stabilizing force there and I appreciated that he had 2 WCW World Title opportunities during that run. Not a bad deal for him to win 4 World Titles in 4 years after everyone wrote Sid off before he returned to the WWE during 1995.

Sid deserves to be in the WWE’s Hall of Fame and WWE should rectify that this upcoming year, along with finally adding Demolition. Let’s go, WWE! Endeavor, make it happen!


#9 – Elimination Chamber debuts at Survivor Series 2002
Personally, I’m not a fan of what the Elimination Chamber became following its debut at Survivor Series 2002. I think that it’s a JOKE that this match determines the other #1 contender for Wrestlemania after the Royal Rumble and in my opinion, that waters down the impact of winning the Rumble. It’s LAZY booking and I also don’t like that it’s your typical February Pay Per View, too. Oh, it’s February, so let’s hop in this stupid cage with pods to do violent stunts that could potential injure many of us. Oh, let the female wrestlers have an annual match in it, too? Sure, why not? Why that will also determine the OTHER #1 contender for Wrestlemania after their own Rumble match.

But for 2002 and never seeing this match ever before, it was pretty cool…

And that’s the thing with never seeing something before… It’s special. For this match, it was mysterious because all you heard was hype from Eric Bischoff about this special new match. Furthermore, look at who wrestled in it… Shawn Michaels (not all the way returned yet, but testing the waters), Triple H defending his World Heavyweight Championship title, Chris Jericho, Rob Van Dam, Kane, and Booker T. Considering the rosters were split in half, that’s quite a good line-up to hold in the inaugural version of this match. And it worked, as you were curious about wrestlers in their pods and who may boldly try a stunt from on top of those pods.

What made this match really special was Shawn Michaels. He’s a guy who had his career cut short due to a back injury sustained at Royal Rumble 1998 and took more than 4 years off. He had returned to blow everybody’s minds at SummerSlam 2002 with his match against Triple H, which was a true 5-star match and an epic battle that had great psychology about whether Michaels could sustain the match due to an injured back. But he endured it… Michaels defeated Triple H during that match but was brutally attacked afterward with a sledgehammer. Selling the injury, Michaels’s opportunity for revenge was at Survivor Series 2002 by not just entering the match, but getting a shot at Triple H’s RAW extension newly crowned World Heavyweight Championship title that Eric Bischoff gave him out of thin air (merged with the original Intercontinental Title lineage, too).

Michaels won the first ever Elimination Chamber match and became the WWE World Heavyweight Championship title holder… And think about this, this was his LAST World Title reign that he ever had. For a guy so obsessed with it during the 1990s, Michaels was fine without holding a World Title and just focused on great feuds and having great matches. He truly had changed from the problematic drama queen that he was back in the day and seemed reformed. Michaels would drop the title back to Triple H next month, but would start really testing the waters for a full-time comeback throughout 2019. I personally thought his Wrestlemania 19 match with Chris Jericho was excellent and opened his eyes for the possibilities of having great matches with a very talented and younger roster.


#8 – Team WWE defeats the WCW/ECW Alliance at Survivor Series 2001
Overall, this match is great, as it was loaded with great talents… But I’m very thankful that it happened because it ENDED the worst dumpster fire of a storyline in the history of pro wrestling. Seriously. And how Stephanie McMahon didn’t get terminated as lead writer for this crap is beyond me. WCW and ECW both closed their doors through the Spring of 2001 and that meant WWE had full opportunity to sign their top talent. While signing ECW’s top guys was easy, as Paul Heyman paid them literally with nothing back then, signing WCW’s top guys wasn’t. WWE wasn’t willing to pay Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Sting, Bill Goldberg, Kevin Nash, Scott Steiner, and others what AOL/Time Warner was trapped into paying them, so thus they settled with who was willing to break their AOL/Time Warner contracts to join the WWE.

While I’ll give Stephanie the benefit of the doubt there, as she didn’t have WCW’s top superstars to work with, she still had DDP, Booker T, Buff Bagwell, and a ton of younger wrestlers on that roster to work with. Yet, the WCW brand was booked to look weak from the start, particularly Booker T whom they mocked at every point they could. Rock asked “who are you” during a promo segment with Booker T (which caused Sting to never join the WWE back then) and Kurt Angle defeated Booker T for his WCW World Title on a random episode of WWE Smackdown (which I attended and witnessed with my own eyes). DDP, meanwhile, was stalking Undertaker’s wife Sara and was quickly dispatched with easy wins for the Undertaker. WWE midcarders were often able to easily dispatch WCW top guys and then we had many WWE vs. WCW matches given away frequently on RAW, Smackdown, Heat, and the syndicated shows.

To “save” both the WCW and ECW brands, they were ruled by Shane McMahon and Stephanie McMahon. So yeah, if you weren’t sick of McMahon family drama during 2000, you got more mouthfuls of it for 2001 with Vince in favor of WWE and his kids overseeing WCW/ECW. Then, just like the NWO storyline, everybody began switching brands without any rhyme or reason. For example, Stone Cold Steve Austin joined the WCW/ECW “Alliance” to kind of mark his 2nd heel turn for the year. Just completely stupid…

At Survivor Series 2001, you had Team WWE (The Rock, Undertaker, Chris Jericho, Kane, and the Big Show) versus Team Alliance (Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Rob Van Dam, Booker T, and Shane McMahon). First and foremost, LOOK at that LOADED team WWE! Holy cow, how can you compete with that team? And how idiotic was it for Team Alliance to place Shane McMahon on their team against a team with hosses like Undertaker, Kane, and Big Show along with former World Champs in the Rock and Chris Jericho? Shane McMahon’s backyard wrestling style aside, this match was fun because it was LOADED with all-time great talents. Yet, this match proved the whole ERROR of the WCW/ECW invasion. How can your booking of this storyline be THIS BAD with that roster in place?

That 2001 roster was LOADED, even with Triple H going down with an injury. 2002 got even MORE LOADED when Hogan/Hall/Nash returned and Ric Flair became an active wrestler again. Then, the Ohio Valley Wrestling Class of 2002 guys showed up… Yet, despite the thick WWE rosters, viewership kept declining and attendance kept dwindling.

In other words, CREATIVE matters and if you fumble that ball repeatedly, you’ll turn customers away despite the roster in place. Thanks Stephanie.

The HILARIOUS thing is that after this Team WWE and Team Alliance match at Survivor Series 2001 happened, none of the wrestlers on Team Alliance lost their jobs. They all came back… And then, Ric Flair made his debut on the RAW following this Survivor Series match. Huh?!? The guy who wore WCW on his sleeve for many years debuts AFTER the Alliance angle? Oh come on… And then Hogan/Hall/Nash debut like 3 months later, Goldberg arrives a year and a half later. WWE was printing money thanks to the Viacom deal and becoming public by offering shares of stock to anyone willing to buy them.

Oh wait, this was 2001… WWE just lost a ton of money with the XFL. That’s why the big WCW names weren’t brought in earlier than they appeared.


#7 – Undertaker wins his 1st WWE title at Survivor Series 1991 versus Hulk Hogan
Think about how crazy this match was during 1991… Hulk Hogan returned to being WWE Champion at Wrestlemania 7 by defeating Iraqi sympathizer Sgt. Slaughter. Hogan is back on top and for Survivor Series 1991, he’s wrestling a guy who just debuted in the WWE one year earlier. That’s right, the Undertaker debuted 1 year earlier at Survivor Series 1990 and for much of 1991, he was getting over and became a legitimately scary heel opponent for Hulk Hogan to not only face him, but to defeat him for the WWE Title!

That’s right, Undertaker won his first WWE Title at this event and did so by Tombstoning Hogan SAFELY onto a steel chair that Ric Flair had place there (that rhymes!). As the hilarious story goes, Hogan claimed neck injuries before this match and told Taker to be careful with him out there. If you watch the tape of the Tombstone, Undertaker seriously holds Hogan at least 8-10 inches off the ground to avoid hurting him but Hogan would stooge him backstage and tell WWE officials that he hurt him. What a goof. No worries, as Undertaker defeated Hulk Hogan during May 2002, over 10 years later, to win the WWE Title cleanly and Hogan couldn’t politic with him then. Undertaker was the bigger star now…

The sad part is that Undertaker didn’t have much of a WWE Title reign here and that’s a major “what if” because the WWE could have drawn unique money with a dominant champion on top of the promotion for the rest of 1991 and throughout 1992. But WWE had other plans for 1992, as that roster was LOADED with the BEST OF THE BEST wrestlers from the 1980s Seriously, LOOK at that roster. Ric Flair just joined the promotion… Roddy Piper was back! Sid Eudy joined the promotion and became Sid Justice. Kerry Von Erich was there! Randy Savage came back from his brief retirement. The loss for Hogan was a way to get the title off of him to set-up 1992 plans.

Plus, the WWE had another gimmick in mind… What if we held Survivor Series on Wednesday 11/27/1991 (moved it to “Thanksgiving Eve” from previous years) and then immediately had a quick follow-up Pay Per View on the next Tuesday on 12/3/1991 called “Tuesday in Texas” that had a rematch between Hogan and the Undertaker? Maybe for 2023, that could have worked as you had Social Media and other things to spread the message of a quick turnaround Pay Per View. However, this was 1991 and unless you caught the syndicated shows or USA Network’s All American Wrestling show on Sunday Morning, there really wasn’t much opportunity to hear about this second show. Plus, looking at disposable income levels during 1991 following an economic recession, asking for another Pay Per View buy was a major ask of an already declining fanbase.

Tuesday at Texas had another controversial finish for Hogan vs. Undertaker, and this caused the WWE Title to become vacated and be up-for-grabs at the Royal Rumble 1992 event which Ric Flair won. BUT, most people don’t remember the Tuesday at Texas Pay Per View and it proved to be a disaster for the WWE. Yet, everyone remembers the Undertaker defeating Hulk Hogan, even if Ric Flair helped him win. Fact is that Undertaker was going for the Tombstone and was likely going to defeat Hogan anyway with that move (one could argue). In terms of tape sales and WWE Network views, Survivor Series 1991 has been seen more times by WWE fans and has had the greater impact. Thus, what helped make the Undertaker great was him effectively ENDING the peak years of Hulkamania and Hogan was never the same in the WWE. Just go watch 1992 or 1993 for evidence of that.


#6 – Steve Austin gets hit by a car at Survivor Series 1999

If you ever wanted to know when the “beginning of the end” of the Attitude Era was, then just watch Survivor Series 1999. Through that event, Steve Austin’s broken neck that he obtained during SummerSlam 1997 and kept working with it began to really bother him to the point where pressure was applied on his spinal cord and made his limb numb. Plus, it was a broken freakin’ neck that never healed properly in the first place and was also taking nightly bumps in those hard WWE rings. While Austin did adjust his in-ring style to work around the injury, taking Rock Bottoms, Tombstones, or just any general bumps adds mileage to any bones, joints, or tendons throughout your body. Steve Austin needed surgery, badly, and would have to give it about 10 months to heal before returning.

At Survivor Series 1999, we were supposed to see a Triple Threat match between Steve Austin, the Rock, and Triple H. Holy cow, think about that match for a second… While Triple H’s star-making moment was a few months away as a Main Event, him working in a match against both Rock and Austin could have been a major opportunity. What if he injured Steve Austin in that match on his way to retaining the WWE Title? He could have had mega heat with the WWE fanbase who adored Austin as their favorite. Instead, the WWE chose a different route and one that would NOT payoff well in terms of storyline (Rikishi said “I did it”, ugh!!!). Before Austin could even have a match, he was mysteriously run down in a vehicle. After getting hit by a car, Austin was hospitalized and that caused the main event to change from Austin vs. Rock vs. Triple H (we were robbed!) to Big Show filling in for Austin. Not only that, but Big Show wins the match and becomes WWE Champion, too, which WWE quickly erased and put the title back on Triple H soon thereafter.

But this angle meant that Steve Austin was GONE from the WWE… While the recently turned babyface Rock and Triple H were adequate replacements, they weren’t Steve Austin as the metrics would prove. While the WWE still pumped out high numbers for RAW and their new show Smackdown, the arena attendance began to slide as Jim Ross reported on his Podcasts. Especially houseshows, which are usually an indicator of the drawing power by whom is main eventing that show. Furthermore, Austin was the top merchandise seller BY A MILE in the WWE. Without him, merchandise sales began to drop, particularly from sales at live events. That said, the folks at Viacom just saw the television metrics and soon signed the WWE to a major deal to bring Monday Night RAW to their TNN (soon to become SpikeTV) network. Ooops. The television numbers began to really drop after Wrestlemania 16, as the WWE went into overdrive to shove McMahon characters down our throats to help Triple H and the Rock account for a missing Steve Austin.

When Steve Austin returned, he joined a changed WWE. It wasn’t the same promotion as when he left it. For one, Triple H was now deeply rooted not just in the main event, but he began attending production meetings to have a say about storylines and other wrestlers. WWE became a corporation and now had different standards to adhere to as well. The Creative Team was changing, as Austin was mostly used to Vince Russo and Austin only had a brief taste of the replacement crew led by Chris Kreski and soon to be overtaken by Stephanie McMahon. Lots of new talent on the WWE roster to compete with, too. While Austin loved working with Angle, Benoit, and others, this also meant more competition for Vince McMahon’s attention.

It just wasn’t the same when he returned, and maybe that prompted his FOOLISH heel turn during 2001? That just finished his starpower and the pressures of the new WWE environment got to Austin by 2002 with several internal and external problems. By Wrestlemania 19 during 2003, he retired from in-ring activity and we never saw him wrestle again until last year’s Wrestlemania 38 with Kevin Owens. It all ended just like that for Austin, but I believe his peak years and the Attitude Era ended at Survivor Series 1999. WWE changed drastically while he was gone, possibly not for the better long-term.

The reveal of car’s driver being Rikishi was ridiculous, and then the WWE quickly changed that to having Triple H being behind that scheme. Then, as 2001 rolls along, Steve Austin joins Triple H following Wrestlemania 17. WWE suffered from bad writing, at times, after Vince Russo left and Survivor Series 1999 was the beginning of that pain.


#5 – Bill Goldberg returns to the ring and easily defeats Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series 2016
How can you upset current WWE fans? Bring up Bill Goldberg. I discussed Goldberg in my LAST COLUMN on how if Bill Goldberg was so “untalented” in the eyes of many WWE marks, why can’t they replicate him with another warm body? They certainly tried with Ryback, didn’t they?

As I argued in my last column, Bill Goldberg was a legitimate draw because WCW made a major booking mistake with Starrcade 1997 that not only ruined Sting’s momentum, but proved to be the peak for the New World Order. Kevin Nash didn’t appear at that show and Hulk Hogan created a bad finish for his match with Sting and in the following months, he just couldn’t walk away from the Main Event scene. In fact, Hogan returned to being WCW Champion by April of 1998 and Sting would soon join one of the split factions of the NWO with embarrassing red paint on his face (matching the NWO Wolfpack). Ugh… Luckily for WCW, they had 1 shining light and that was a new talent named Bill Goldberg. He built on the momentum that NWO and Crow Sting had built during 1997 and took WCW’s popularity to new heights. Again, just look at the viewership, packed houses, and merchandise sold. 1998 was the year of Bill Goldberg, clearly, for WCW. Biggest mistake WCW ever did was crowning Goldberg champion so early and NOT on a Pay Per View, as that proved to be the early peak of his character… After becoming WCW Champion, Goldberg had little to accomplish and wasn’t even allowed to headline Pay Per Views for the rest of the summer.

But to many longtime WCW fans, Bill Goldberg’s rise during late 1997 and all of 1998 was special. WCW was known for acquiring top talents like Hulk Hogan, Macho Man, Hall & Nash, Roddy Piper, etc., but they really weren’t developing their own homegrown talent. Hence why DDP was so popular, because he was a homegrown talent, but also for Bill Goldberg. Goldberg had a mystique about him, as he literally arrived out of no where and looked legitimately dangerous. Build in that he’s a former NFL football player and give him EXCELLENT finishing moves with the Spear and the Jackhammer, and you’ve got a big superstar on your hands. WCW fans appreciated him because he was a “breath of fresh air” following 1997 that was totally dominated by the NWO. Furthermore, unlike Sting, he got to put the nail into the NWO coffin and Hollywood Hogan. The July 1998 Nitro featured Goldberg getting a clean win over Hogan and becoming WCW Champion, which Sting failed to do at Starrcade 1997.

Then, however, you had the 2003-2004 Bill Goldberg WWE run… It could have been better. At that point, WWE wasn’t ready to make him their top superstar and Bill Goldberg just didn’t seem to have that raw hunger he had in 1998 (maybe seeing the RAW brand locker room quickly changed that). WWE did a few weird things to him, like changing his tights, altering his music a bit, having goofy backstage segments like Goldust placing his wig on his head, etc. Plus, Triple H had to beat everybody first before someone could get the better of him back then. Goldberg should have won the WWE Title at SummerSlam 2002, but an injured Triple H (torn groin) had to get the win. Momentum was gone and hence why Goldberg’s WWE Title reign was so short and not that remembered to this day.

The ironic thing about Goldberg’s run, however, was how it ended… Goldberg was set to finish his WWE contract up at Wrestlemania 20 by losing cleanly to Brock Lesnar. That was a “supermatch” that WWE was trying to hype during late 2003 and hoped to deliver for a big Brock Lesnar win at Wrestlemania 20. However, Brock Lesnar wanted to quit the WWE due to being burned out by the wrestling business… WWE and Brock negotiated a release from the contract that Lesnar signed during 2003 (I think), which would cause legal issues for years because of WWE’s non-compete clause for any wrestling or MMA promotions until 2010. WWE found another way to “stick it” to the departing Brock Lesnar: they changed the finish to the Wrestlemania 20 match. Now, Bill Goldberg was going to get the clean win over Brock Lesnar. While this decision didn’t mean much at the time, it meant EVERYTHING more than 12 years later at Survivor Series 2016 for their eventual rematch.

Bill Goldberg returned to the WWE during late 2016 at the tender age of 49 and was about to turn 50… Yet, he still looked like the Bill Goldberg that we remembered with some grain hair in his goatee. When Goldberg returned, he set his sights on Brock Lesnar… Holy cow. Instantly, the Wrestlemania 20 finish mattered because Goldberg at BEAT Lesnar at that big event. This really mattered because from 2013 through 2016, Brock Lesnar was DOMINANT and seemed unstoppable. Yet, the legend from WCW and the guy who beat Lesnar at Wrestlemania 20 had suddenly appeared and challenged Brock to a match. The questions soon arose on how much Goldberg had left in the tank at age 49 and PLUS, he literally didn’t wrestle a single match since defeating Brock at Wrestlemania 20. That is 12+ years of ring rust! How could an older Goldberg who hasn’t wrestled in a long, long time defeat him?

Well, the WWE is full of surprises and that’s how they keep us hooked.

Bill Goldberg SHOCKED THE WORLD by defeating Brock Lesnar CLEANLY in just 1 minute and 26 seconds. It was actually shorter than that after the big staredown, as they wrestled in the corner and after Goldberg shoved Lesnar away, Goldberg hit the spear and then Jackhammer for the quick victory. The WWE fanbase’s jaws collectively dropped, as NOBODY came close to manhandling Brock Lesnar like that. Suddenly, there was a buzz about Bill Goldberg and many of the WCW oldtimer fans came back as RAW was consistently 100-200 thousand heavier on viewership anytime Goldberg appeared from 2016-2017.

Then, WWE hyped up them confronting at Royal Rumble 2017, which was quite bonkers too as Goldberg eliminated Lesnar in that match. Goldberg ended up winning the WWE Universal Title from Kevin Owens, which I know is a sore spot for many fans of KO but it made Lesnar vs. Goldberg at Wrestlemania 33 an even bigger deal. Sorry, but I LOVE that Wrestlemania match. It was the perfect length and had a big match feel to it that the rest of that card didn’t. Furthermore, it made Brock Lesnar into an even bigger star by finally slaying that Bill Goldberg dragon and also winning another World Title. Though Goldberg lost, WWE had a big name superstar on their roster who was perfect to use for appearances and to help boost PLE and WWE Network subscription dollars. Saudi Arabians know who Bill Goldberg is and he was an easy addition to their big events.

That creative decision to rebuild the Bill Goldberg character AND to defeat Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series 2016 made the WWE a ton of money, no doubt about it. It brought back many older WCW fans who loved Bill, created a great storyline arc for Brock Lesnar, and gave the WWE another big name celebrity ambassador they could use for various appearances or corporate functions. Otherwise, Bill Goldberg would have been that former WCW star that didn’t do so well in the WWE previously like many others before him.


#4 – Kevin Nash loses to Bret Hart at Survivor Series 1995
Ignore the match for a second, as I’d argue this was a legitimate 4-5 star match between these two superstars in their prime. It was the PERFECT big man versus smaller wrestler match, though Bret is a legitimate heavyweight. The match was a complete battle and one that I occasionally rewatch from time to time. The ending of this match matters.

Let’s be honest about Kevin Nash’s 1994-1995 WWE Title run… It could have been handled better, and to no fault of Kevin Nash’s own. WWE ruined him by not only rushing him to the WWE Title, but making him such a vanilla character as a babyface. After losing Hulk Hogan, the WWE longed for someone to fill his babyface shoes and at first it was Lex Luger for 1993-1994 and next it was Kevin Nash’s Diesel character for 1994-1995. They made him cut the lamest babyface promos while also not giving him that many trademark wins as WWE Champion. Gee, I wonder why his WWE Title run wasn’t perceived well.

With Kevin Nash, the talent was there… He could speak well, as he’s highly intelligent, great worker in the ring (despite Cornette’s criticism of having only 5 moves), and he looked like a legitimate monster with his size. Yet for most of 1995, he was LAME as a character… But that all changed at Survivor Series 1995. At the end of the match, Nash thought he had the win by setting up Bret for the Jacknife Powerbomb. However, Bret went limp and passed out before Nash could hit it… That raised Nash’s confidence and he got a little bit cocky and took his time trying to set up the Jacknife for the 2nd time. Big mistake on that confidence, as Bret then rolled Nash up with a small cradle for the 1, 2, 3.

But the big part was the aftermath, as Kevin Nash said he told the production truck to focus in on his face after he lost. He’s legitimately pissed in character as Diesel for losing that way and losing the WWE Title. After screaming cursewords, he gets mad and attacks Bret Hart with 2 consecutive Jacknife Powerbombs. For the first time, we’re seeing actual emotion and creativity from the Diesel character. Here is when the NWO character that we’d soon see in WCW as one of the Outsiders (with Hall) was developed. Instead of being the scripted character of Diesel, Nash would become his own man and show real emotion with his character. The NWO invader that you saw in 1996 wasn’t what you saw during most of 1995 with Diesel’s WWE Title run. He was raw, uncut, and angry and that’s what you’d expect a nearly 7 foot badass looking mofo to react in a combat environment. The genesis of Nash’s 1996 Outsider character was created at Survivor Series 1995.

Major missed opportunity by the WWE not pushing THAT version of Kevin Nash instead of the WWE Champion we saw from 1994-1995. WWE’s ignorance was WCW’s gain, as Kevin Nash joined WCW during the Summer of 1996 with fellow free agent Scott Hall and they changed the wrestling world. While Scott Hall was still obviously doing his Razor gimmick, Kevin Nash was performing the persona that he created at Survivor Series 1995. Hence, why the Outsiders were incredibly popular at the start and were the real drivers of the NWO’s success and remain so to this day (RIP Scott Hall). Nash fixed his character at Survivor Series 1995 and it was WCW’s gain in acquiring him.


#3 – Undertaker debuts at Survivor Series 1990
The greatest overall career of a WWE superstar began on November 22nd, 1990 or 33 years ago roughly when this column is posted. Prior to joining the WWE, Mark Calaway was in World Championship Wrestling (WCW) as “Mean” Mark Callous. He was quite intimidating back then, as he actually walked the ropes and performed like an agile big man wrestler. Loved his Heart Punch finisher! He filled in for the often injured Skyscraper tag team, but through 1990, head booker Ole Anderson just didn’t like him for whatever reason. So, WCW let him go and he joined the WWE with the PERFECT gimmick as The Undertaker.

The rest was history… He debuted as part of Million Dollar Team consisting of Ted Dibiase, Honky Tonk Man, and Greg “the Hammer” Valentine against the Dream Team consisting of Dusty Rhodes, Koko B. Ware, and the Hart Foundation (Bret and Anvil). It was the perfect debut, because the WWE saved it for the Pay Per View to create a buzz among wrestling fans who didn’t fork out their hard-earned cash for this event. Furthermore, the Undertaker DOMINATED, taking out 2 opponents (Dusty & Koko) to help his team win.

WWE would make a few necessary tweaks to his character to improve the mystique about his character, such as adding Paul Bearer as his manager (removing Ted Dibiase and Brother Love from the equation) and having Undertaker place his opponents in bodybags. He is the greatest character that the WWE has ever created, along with being having the best career that spanned almost 30 years. His matches were epic and you can remember most of his big matches easily, which is the mark of an all-time great talent. In addition, Undertaker kept his mystique strong by not taking interviews, not exposing the business on social media, and being careful about where he was seen publicly.

So yes, Ole Anderson from 1990… This guy could drew money and probably drew the WWE billions and still draws for them money to this day. I attended a comic book convention in Pittsburgh where the Undertaker was featured for autographs and pictures and the line was incredibly long to the point where you’d seriously wait 3-4 hours in the cold for the possibility to see him.


2) Montreal Screwjob of Survivor Series 1997
What, it’s not #1?!? Well, for one, it’s a sad moment because of what Vince McMahon and the WWE felt they had to do to Bret Hart because of the heat of competition with WCW. That said, it truly ignited the Attitude Era to new heights as Bret was an older veteran and his exit not only allowed the WWE to push other stars in his place, but made WCW’s roster look older and thicker with ex-WWE wrestlers in their 40s. Furthermore, the screwjob established the heel character of Vince McMahon, though it took a few weeks of Vince wanting sympathy to realize it.

If you don’t know the backstory… During 1996, Bret Hart’s contract WWE expired. He reportedly flirted with joining WCW during the Summer of 1996, maybe joining the nWo stable as a possibility? Instead, he opted to re-sign with the WWE for a 20 year contract that was front loaded with million dollar payouts and then on the back-end, it would pay him to contribute to the WWE in some managerial fashion. Bret is loyal to a fault and opted to sign this contract, assuming he’d be there for the next 20 years. He had heard bad things about WCW from Owen and the Bulldog who had previously wrestled there. However, built into Bret Hart’s contract was a one-year escape clause that the WWE could execute if they decided to do so. If WWE executed it, Bret Hart had creative control for the next 30 days following WWE’s decision to terminate the contract.

WWE’s finances were a bit tight during 1997 and they also desired to push younger wrestlers to the top, especially with Steve Austin catching fire. Thus, WWE opted to use the one-year opt out clause and Bret would leave after the next 30 days and Survivor Series 1997 be within those 30 days. Oh, and that year’s event was in Montreal that year, a city in Bret’s home country of Canada. WWE wanted Bret to drop the title to Shawn Michaels, but Bret, using that 30 day creative clause, refused to drop it to Shawn due to their ongoing personal issues seen throughout 1997. Thus, it was agreed upon that a DX run-in finish would cause a disqualification finish and Bret would just hand the WWE Title over on the next night during RAW.

Members within the WWE and Vince McMahon had other ideas… They couldn’t just let Bret Hart join WCW without losing the WWE Title in a match. Just forfeiting the title was stupid, as WCW could brag that they just signed the real WWE world champion. After all, the WWE did this to WCW during 1991 with the signing of Ric Flair who never dropped the WCW World Title as WCW and Jim Herd just fired him (let Ric walk out and retain the big gold belt, too). Ric Flair joining WWE and still holding their title embarrassed WCW back then. Vince McMahon wasn’t going to have that and hence internal plans were discussed to “screw” Bret Hart. Originally, the plan was to have Shawn Michaels lock Bret Hart into his own Sharpshooter, but then Bret would reverse it into this own. Then, DX would run-in… However, WWE officials strong-armed referee Earl Hebner to call for the bell when Shawn Michaels had Bret in the Sharpshooter. Bret got screwed and not only spat on Vince McMahon ringside, but reportedly uppercutted him backstage.

The rest was history… Bret Hart joined WCW and they poorly used him. Vince McMahon became the biggest heel of all time… Rock, Foley, and Austin were able to rise up and easily take Bret’s main event spot. Just gigantic and it ignited interest in WWE brand by increasing amounts thanks to the Montreal controversy, but then viewers took a good look at WWE’s programming from that and got hooked.

And since then, WWE wrestlers have stuck to the suggested script when under contract. Lesson learned if you ever try to cross the boss known as Vince McMahon especially if you’re his World Champion.


#1 – Survivor Series 1998 Tournament
Survivor Series 1998 is not only the BEST Survivor Series Pay Per View ever, but it’s one of the best Pay Per Views, period. Now, I’m here to tell you that the match quality isn’t quite there that you’d expect from Foley, Austin, Rock, and many other alpha talents who worked the show. THAT IS NOT THE POINT. This was a 1 night tournament for the vacated WWE Title and it’s meant to be a storyline driven show to not only make the Rock become WWE Champion, but become the cornerstone of Vince McMahon’s heel Corporation stable.

I don’t care what you say about Vince Russo and his booking efforts after the WWE. Russo was on fire with his booking for all of 1998 and through Wrestlemania 15 during 1999. The booking for Survivor Series 1998 was 100% perfectly done and in my opinion, caused the true expansion of the WWE and distancing away from WCW. In one night, the Creative not only convinced everyone that the Rock was Main Event quality, but that he was the most hated villain and that Mick Foley would become a major babyface sensation as a Main Eventer himself. This event would also cement both Shane McMahon and Vince McMahon as major heel antagonists as well, as they literally just performed the Montreal Screwjob all over again.

Before this show, the Rock came off a year where he was a heel but was beginning to get lots of babyface cheers. Go watch that Rock vs. Triple H match from SummerSlam, as it’s seriously 50/50 on fan support for the babyface Triple H and the heel Rocky. Following that match, it was expected that the Rock would turn full blown babyface… However, he signed a deal with the Vince McMahon devil to take a shortcut to the WWE Title and fans HATED him for it! Better yet, it got the Rock cutting heel promos again, which he was beginning to shy away from as he distanced himself from the Nation of Domination storyline and was becoming his own man.

But you had all kinds of drama in this tournament… For one, Steve Austin, the world’s biggest star that he morphed into during 1998, was in the tournament and the build-up was him recapturing his title in spite of Vince McMahon. Vince and the Corporation had other plans… For one, in a beautifully done angle, they demoted Shane McMahon to be a referee and there was legitimate sympathy on him with this angle. Furthermore, they played it up like Mick Foley was trying to get back into the good graces of the Corporation and the perfect booking was put into place when Shane McMahon, as referee, screwed Steve Austin to help Foley win. Foley won and the expectation was that Foley was the Corporate stooge going up against the potential babyface Rock. Nope… The Corporation turned on Foley and made the Rock become champion.

This set off my favorite period of the WWE… Rock vs. Foley feud was magical, as it not only produced amazing Main Event matches, but it toughed the Rock up to be a legitimate Main Eventer. Then, by Wrestlemania 15, he’s ready to easily tango well with Stone Cold Steve Austin for the best match of 1999 in my opinion.

This WWE Tournament set-up storylines for the next 5 months and made the WWE a metric ton of money in the process. I would say that this was the best written show of all time based on the storyline fire that it started. Vince Russo, Vince McMahon, and others backstage need major props for preparing this show and all of the performers deserve props, too, for executing it perfectly. This show is a perfect example of a well oiled machine for the wrestling business.


Happy Thanksgiving! Thank you so much for reading!

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