- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.