Survivor Series: Through The Years (Part 3)
by Scrooge McSuck
- Last time we covered the 1993-1998 Survivor Series, ranging from some surprisingly watchable shows from the "New" Generation, the Montreal Screwjob, and the one-night that defined Vince Russo's career, and remains the benchmark that he's never reached again, twenty years later. Part 3 picks things up with 1999, and takes us through 2004.
Survivor Series '99 – November 14th, 1999 (Joe Louis Arena; Detroit, MI)
Highs: Kurt Angle made his in-ring debut after several weeks of hype videos celebrating him as the ONLY REAL ATHLETE in the WWF and instantly got over as a heel who felt disrespected by fans. Big Show getting to squash a bunch of geeks in about a minute is the only way to make his elimination match watchable.
- The Godfather, D'Lo Brown, Mosh, and Thrasher def. Bradshaw, Faarooq, Buh-Buh Ray Dudley, and D'Von Dudley [Survivors: Godfather and D'Lo] **
- Kurt Angle def. Shawn Stasiak *1/2
- Val Venis, Mark Henry, Steve Blackman, and Gangrel def. The British Bulldog, Joey Abs, Pete Gas, and Rodney [Survivors: Venis and Henry] DUD
- The Fabulous Moolah, Mae Young, Debra, and Tori def. Ivory, Jacqueline, Luna Vachon, and Terri Runnels -*
- Kane def. X-Pac by DQ *
- Big Show def. Big Boss Man, Prince Albert, Viscera, and Mideon DUD
- Chyna def. Chris Jericho to retain the Intercontinental Title *
- Grandmaster Sexay, Scotty 2 Hotty, Hardcore Holly, and Crash Holly def. Edge, Christian, Matt Hardy, and Jeff Hardy [Survivor: Hardcore Holly] **1/2
- The New Age Outlaws def. Mankind & Al Snow to retain the Tag Team Titles *
- The Big Show def. Triple H and The Rock for the WWF Championship *1/2
Lows: The blatant bait-and-switch with Steve Austin, who for weeks was pushed as one of the challengers in the WWF Championship Match, being taken out during the PPV via hit-and-run assault. Austin badly needed surgery for his neck, and it was known well in advance of this show he would be taking time off, yet they continued to push him as a major selling point all the way through the first hour of the show, then offered THE BIG SHOW as a replacement. Lots of meaningless and rushed matches. Chris Jericho having to put over Chyna in a serious, long, competitive match. Even kept under three minutes, the 8-Women Match was "bowling shoe ugly."
Random Notes and Tidbits: Kurt Angle made his in-ring debut, but smart eyes remember him doing an angle in the Spring where Tiger Ali Singh wanted him to blow his nose on an American flag, but chose to do it on the flag of India, instead... Big Show winning the WWF Title is the 7th time the Championship changed hands out of 8 defenses, and the 6th consecutive time overall... Big Show was "scheduled" to team with TAKA Michinoku, Funaki, and the Blue Meanie, but refused the assigned partners and beat them up earlier in the show... The British Bulldog and Fabulous Moolah both wrestled at the first Survivor Series in 1987... The second time the Survivor Series was held at the Joe Louis Arena (1991 hosted the first occasion)... Mideon sets the new record for quickest fall in an elimination match, doing the honors for the Big Show in 18-seconds.
Overall Rating: F
There's nothing to see here, features one of the worst examples of a bait-and-switch in WWF history, and doesn't even have some redeeming historical incident like the Montreal Screwjob to make you want to give it a look. Just match after match of mostly bad wrestling, heatless characters, bad finishes, and the cheap tactic of advertising Steve Austin and giving us the "feel good moment" of Big Show winning the WWF Championship.
Survivor Series '00 – November 19th, 2000 (The Ice Palace; Tampa; FL)
Highs: Austin and Triple H was a wild brawl that unfortunately had a ridiculous finish that some could consider attempted murder (Triple H, naturally, returned about 3 weeks later). Even though there's not much that stands out as must watch, the consistency across the board makes the lineup far more watchable than the three previous shows. Kurt Angle going over The Undertaker, even if it's not the cleanest of victories, is still a win for the pro column. Um... seriously, is this all I can think of? I'm already grasping for straws on the last one!
- Val Venis def. Jeff Hardy
- Steve Blackman, Crash Holly, and Molly Holly def. Test, Albert, and Trish Stratus *1/2
- Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Perry Saturn, and Dean Malenko def. Billy Gunn, Chyna, Road Dogg, and K-Kwik [Survivors: Benoit and Saturn] **
- Kane def. Chris Jericho **1/2
- Hardcore Holly def. European Champion William Regal by DQ *
- The Rock def. Rikishi **
- Women's Champion Ivory def. Lita DUD
- WWF Champion Kurt Angle def. The Undertaker *1/2
- Bubba Ray Dudley, D'Von Dudley, Jeff Hardy, and Matt Hardy def. Edge, Christian, Bull Buchanon, and The Goodfather [Survivor: Jeff Hardy] **1/4
- "Stone Cold" Steve Austin NC Triple H ***
Lows: Despite the consistent work, it's below par for the standards set by the roster throughout the entire calendar year of 2000. The Radicalz are saddled with Attitude Era wash-outs like the (unofficially united) New Age Outlaws and a green R-Truth, Chris Jericho and Kane are feuding over spilled coffee (no, I'm not making that up). The finish with Austin attempting to murder Triple H is one of the worst endings in PPV history. The Rock is wasted in a mid-card role, trying to elevate Rikishi to the upper tier on the heel depth chart.
Random Notes and Tidbits: Kurt Angle became the first man since Bret Hart (1992) to successfully defend the WWF Championship at the Survivor Series, breaking a 6-year streak of title changes... The finish involving Eric Angle as Kurt's double would be recycled the week before WrestleMania XIX when Angle defended the WWE Title against Brock Lesnar... Kurt Angle became the second man to compete in the WWF Championship match on the 1st anniversary of his debut. The other? His opponent, The Undertaker (debuted in 1990, challenged and won in 1991)... 2000 is the first Survivor Series to feature women in three matches (1 mixed tag, 1 Chyna, and the Women's Title).
Overall Rating: C
Consider myself a hung jury on this one. It's definitely nowhere near being a great show, but it's nowhere near the very bottom, either. The worst matches are kept reasonably short, but the best matches are nothing you're going to remember 30-minutes later. The Elimination matches, all two of them, were mid-card filler, and under-delivered based on the quality of most of the workers involved. Just feels like Survivor Series is once again becoming just another show.
Survivor Series '01 – November 18th, 2001 (Greensboro Coliseum; Greensboro, NC)
Highs: Despite the overwhelming amount of non-WCW/ECW guys on Team Alliance, the Main Event, "Winner Take All" Match, delivered the best traditional Elimination Match in years with a strong list of participants and eliminations. Most notable spot is the live execution of Shane McMahon at the hands of the remaining team members of Team WWF (Big Show had just received the same treatment, but who cares about him?). This seem like a back-handed compliment, but the biggest high was the conclusion of the Invasion angle that angers people to this day (and to these people I say "get over it, it's a wrestling angle, and don't act like you really believed Vince McMahon would fantasy book this like some geek on his computer, typing away about the history of Survivor Series PPV's).
- European Champion Christian def. Al Snow **
- William Regal def. Tajiri *1/2
- US Champion Edge def. IC Champion Test to unify the Titles **
- WCW Tag Champs The Dudley Boyz def. WWF Tag Champs the Hardy Boyz in a Steel Cage to unify the Titles **1/2
- Test won a 22-Man "Immunity Battle Royal" DUD
- Trish Stratus def. Lita, Jacqueline, Ivory, Molly Holly, and Jazz to win the Women's Title *1/4
- The Rock, Chris Jericho, The Undertaker, Kane, and The Big Show def. Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Booker T, Rob Van Dam, and Shane McMahon ****1/4
Lows: While we had a strong Main Event, the undercard came across as an hour and a half of filler. There were two unification matches that delivered average results, including the declining interest in the never-ending use of the Hardys and Dudleys and a revived push for Test as a serious threat to the secondary Championship(s). The Immunity Battle Royal was your traditional geek battle royal where there's little mystery to who goes over, especially with how it was set up with Test ambushing his way into competing against the likes of Funaki and Chavo Guerrero.
Random Notes and Tidbits: Jazz made her in-ring debut as a surprise participant, on a show where everyone from the losing faction was "fired"... The women's title was inactive for 6-months, last seen when Chyna defended the title at Judgment Day in May... The first time since 1993 where the Main Event is a traditional Survivor Series Elimination Match... Vince McMahon was originally announced to be a member of Team WWF, but was replaced by the Big Show for reasons unexplained... Test forcefully replaced Scotty 2 Hotty in the Immunity Battle Royal, a match open to all members of the WWF and Alliance, but somehow only featured the under-card geeks... Christian vs. Al Snow for the European Title was added on the Sunday Night Heat before the PPV began... The last PPV to feature Paul Heyman doing commentary with Jim Ross...
Overall Rating: B-
Fueled by a strong Main Event, the undercard delivered average results with the limited amount of meaningful matches (other than two unifications, the Women's Title is brought back from the dead again, the European Title match was literally added at the last second, and there's a terrible geek Battle Royal) and would've dragged down a card with a weaker Main Event. Most of what I bad mouthed was technically fine work, but I'd recommend skipping the entire under-card and just watching the Winner Take All Elimination Match.
Survivor Series '02 – November 17th, 2002 (Madison Square Garden; New York City, NY)
Highs: The Elimination Chamber, while often criticized and held to high expectations because of "WarGames" wet dreams, delivered a memorable Main Event in a year where the show closing matches were having a hard time getting over or generating interest. Shawn Michaels was working only his second match, showing little rust, and Triple H worked through an injury sustained early but remained in the match for an additional 25-minutes. The Triple Threat Tag from the Smackdown roster was just another day at the office for a brand that was killing it every week. Victoria and Trish had the most physical match I can remember between Women, and if you're a fan of train wrecks, Rico having to yell at Jeff Hardy to get in place for a spot is always hilarious botch-a-mania material.
- William Regal & Lance Storm def. Goldust & The Hurricane
- Bubba Ray Dudley, Jeff Hardy, and Spike Dudley def. Rosey, Jamal, and Rico in an Elimination Tables Match *1/2
- Billy Kidman def. Jamie Noble for the Cruiserweight Title ***
- Victoria def. Trish Stratus in a Hardcore Match for the Women's Title **1/2
- The Big Show def. Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship *
- Eddie & Chavo Guerrero def. Edge & Rey Mysterio and Kurt Angle & Chris Benoit for the SD Tag Team Titles ***1/2
- Shawn Michaels def. Triple H, Rob Van Dam, Booker T, Kane, and Chris Jericho in an Elimination Chamber for the World Heavyweight Title ****
Lows: Brock Lesnar jobbing in under 5-minutes to the Big Show sticks out like a sore thumb. The rumor and innuendo going around was that Lesnar was working hurt, but BIG SHOW? The same guy who was buried over and over for the last two years? I don't get it, except he's big, but in the process, killed the on-air relationship between Lesnar and Heyman, too. My only complaint about the Elimination Chamber was how it would obviously come down to Michaels and Hunter, even with Hunter probably better off calling an audible and seeking medical attention. The opening elimination tag wasn't much, and would've been more suited to switch places with Kidman vs. Noble to start the show off on a better note.
Random Notes and Tidbits: Scott Steiner made his debut punking out Chris Nowinski and Matt Hardy (Version 1)... 5 championships are defended, and all 5 changed hands, joining a short list of PPV's with that many title switches (and not including the joke Hardcore Title 24/7 rule), and yep, in there are BOTH World Titles, making the defender of the crown basically a sitting duck at the annual event... Though there weren't traditional elimination matches, three of the six matches on PPV featured elimination rules... Brock Lesnar's loss to the Big Show was his first pinfall/submission loss since making his TV debut the day after WrestleMania X-8... Brock vs. Hulk Hogan was rumored to taking place, but scrapped when Hogan insisted on winning the title... D'Von and Bubba Ray reunited after failed singles pushes following the brand split.
Overall Rating: A-
A strong main event, a solid under-card, and a limited amount of negatives makes this an enjoyable show when fan interest was starting to suffer. The Elimination Chamber would become a go-to gimmick before a show was named after it, watering the concept down a bit. "The Smackdown Six" have had better matches on random episodes of Smackdown, but the Triple Threat was non-stop action. The weak opener hurts the show a little, and Big Show going over Brock is a major head scratcher, but the positives far outweigh those two matches.
Survivor Series '03 – November 16th, 2003 (American Airlines Center; Dallas, TX)
Highs: Even the biggest critics of Shawn Michaels couldn't deny his performance in the Survivor Series Match pitting teams representing Eric Bischoff and Steve Austin, with Austin's role of GM on the line. I'm usually not a fan of blading in non-Cage or hardcore environments, but here it was a suitable place, having to fight from underneath against the three most credible opponents, and coming just short. The second best match (which isn't given a star rating) was actually featured on Sunday Night Heat, and was given less than 5-minutes to pack in all the action.
- Tajiri def. Jamie Noble to retain the Cruiserweight Title
- Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit, John Cena, Bradshaw, and Hardcore Holly def. Brock Lesnar, Big Show, A-Train, Matt Morgan, and Nathan Jones [Survivors: Benoit and Cena] **
- Molly Holly def. Lita to retain the Women's Title *1/2
- Kane def. Shane McMahon in an Ambulance Match ½*
- The Basham Brothers def. Los Guerreros for the SD Tag Team Titles *1/2
- Randy Orton, Chris Jericho, Christian, Mark Henry, and Scott Steiner def. Shawn Michaels, Booker T, Rob Van Dam, Bubba Ray and D'Von Dudley [Survivor: Randy Orton] ****
- Vince McMahon def. The Undertaker in a Buried Alive Match DUD
- Goldberg def. Triple H to retain the World Heavyweight Title *1/2
Lows: Where do I begin? The opening match on the PPV, while it wasn't going to be a classic, had potential to be entertaining. What we got was 8 eliminations rushed in 13-minutes. A MATCH THAT FEATURED NAMES LIKE BROCK AND ANGLE DOING PINFALL JOBS. Two of the highly promoted matches featured a McMahon, with one going over The Undertaker with assistance from Kane, who had to sell for 15-minutes for the Boy Wonder. The same Kane that was bulldozing Raw for several months, and was even allowed shine by manhandling Austin and Linda McMahon. The rest of the card is completely forgettable. Who honestly remembers The Bashams, or their manager, Shaniqua (former TE winner, Linda Miles)?
Random Notes and Tidbits: Randy Orton kicks off his incredible streak of victories at Survivor Series, pinning Shawn Michaels to be the Sole Survivor... Triple H's Survivor Series record continues to plummet, losing for the 6th time in as many appearances at the annual event... The Cruiserweight Title Match was scheduled for the PPV, but bumped to shoehorn an in-ring segment with Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban... Despite steady employment and off-and-on roles on TV, Mark Henry didn't appear on a PPV between No Way Out 2000 and this event... Goldberg's one and only Survivor Series appearance until a shocking return in 2016... Steve Austin, despite his team losing and being booted from Monday Night Raw, would be back before the end of 2003.
Overall Rating: C-
There's one strong match, and then the quality sharply drops, with an average (and disappointing) opener, and a handful of undercard title matches that promised little and delivered on those expectations. What really drags the show down is the two McMahon matches, featuring gimmicks that rarely produce an entertainment match (one where you fight to throw someone into the back of an ambulance, and another where you fight to throw someone in a grave). We've seen worse over the years at Survivor Series, but we're noticing a trend of painfully average shows with very little significance.
Survivor Series '04 – November 14th, 2004 (Gund Arena; Cleveland, OH)
Highs: The Raw Elimination Match that closes the show was a fine example of pacing eliminations and good work. At the time I remember being pissed off that Chris Benoit was eliminated first, but I'm mostly mellowed on that feeling these days. When a match somehow gets you cheering for Maven, I guess they're doing something right. Even though the Spike Dudley era on top of the Cruiserweight Division is forgettable and kind of poops on the rest of the roster, the opener was perfectly acceptable wrestling.
- La Resistance def. The Hurricane & Rosey
- Spike Dudley def. Billy Kidman, Chavo Guerrero, and Rey Mysterio to retain the Cruiserweight Title **1/2
- Shelton Benjamin def. Christian to retain the IC Title ***
- Eddie Guerrero, John Cena, Rob Van Dam, and Big Show def. Kurt Angle, Carlito, Mark Jindrak, and Luther Reigns [Survivors: Guerrero, Cena, and Show] *1/2
- The Undertaker def. Heidenreich DUD
- Trish Stratus def. Lita by DQ to retain the Women's Title DUD
- John "Bradshaw" Layfield def. Booker T to retain the WWE Championship **
- Randy Orton, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, and Maven def. Triple H, Edge, Batista, and Gene Snitsky [Survivor: Randy Orton] ***1/2
Lows: Once again, The Undertaker is featured in one of the weakest matches of the night, this time saddled with Heidenreich, who's claim to fame in the WWE is having a friend that might've been his Johnson, assaulting Michael Cole in the bathroom while reading poetry, and being a wanna-be member of the Legion of Doom. The Smackdown Elimination Match, just like 2003, is a rushed mess of eliminations, clocking in at barely over 10-minutes, with the first elimination taking place before the bell rings, leaving the heels at a disadvantage. JBL's Championship reign is nearing half-a-year, and this might've been his best match since winning the title from Eddie Guerrero... no, that isn't a compliment.
Random Notes and Tidbits: Randy Orton picks up his second consecutive victory in a Survivor Series Elimination Match, once again as the Sole Survivor... The stipulation for the Main Event allowed each member of the winning team a chance to run Monday Night Raw, including Maven challenging Triple H for the World Heavyweight Title, among other scenarios... Speaking of Triple H, make that 7 for 7 in walking out on the losing end of things at Survivor Series... Snitsky and Heidenreich acknowledged each other's work (killing babies and poetry) that should've lead to the most awesome heel tandem of the millennium... The WWE purged it's undercard shortly before the PPV, and my running joke for a week recapping Velocity and Heat was "so and so lost a loser leaves WWE match", including Rico, Jazz, Gail Kim, Rodney Mack, and Johnny Stamboli, among nearly a dozen other names.
Overall Rating: B-
That might be a bit of a generous rating, but when it comes down to judging the entire show, only The Undertaker vs. Heidenreich stands out as a complete waste of time (the other poorly rated match was only 90-seconds, so that isn't so much a bad match, but not worth listing as a match, period). The Main Event wasn't the strongest we've seen in Survivor Series history, but ends the show on a high note, and the rest of the card, while painfully average, doesn't make for an unenjoyable experience.
We'll pick things up for Part Four, covering the years 2005 through 2010, and those should be interesting because we're nearing the era where I completely gave up on the product. Yes, I have to put that out there as much as possible.
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