1. The original 1987 Survivor Series event was created for three reasons: to keep the Hulk Hogan/Andre The Giant program going, to directly compete with the original Thanksgiving Night Tradition, the NWA’s annual Starrcade event, and to showcase as many WWF wrestlers on the roster, hence the strict adherence to elimination tag team matches. (40 men & 10 women performed that November night. 50 men worked the 1988 show.)
Hulk & Andre would feud right up until the first SummerSlam in August 1988 and the NWA would actually move Starrcade to December that same year. It would never again be booked for American Thanksgiving. The final Starrcade took place in late December 2000. The Survivor Series stopped being an annual American Thanksgiving Night extravaganza in its own right after the 1990 show. From 1991 to 1994 it was held on Thanksgiving Eve. By 1995, it began its ongoing run as an annual Sunday night pay-per-view in November.
2. The 1988 Survivor Series marked the first time a double turn ever happened during a WWF pay-per-view, which is still a rare occurrence today. The villainous Demolition, the then-WWF tag team champions, captained a team of 10 against their arch rivals, The Powers Of Pain, & their babyface team of 10. (Each side was represented by five tag teams.) Near the conclusion of the match, as Smash was being Irish whipped into the ropes, Demolition’s wily manager Mr. Fuji, pulled down the top rope which send him crashing to the floor. Smash ended up getting counted out, thus eliminating Ax as well. (When one man from a 2-man tag team was eliminated, his partner was gone, too.)
Both men angrily confronted Fuji. Fuji whacked one of them with his cane. Ax ended up body slamming him on the floor after Smash threw their terrified manager into his arms. After a disgusted Demolition left ringside, The Powers Of Pain helped up Fuji, dusted him off and brought him over to their corner. After disposing of The Conquistadors, the last team standing on Demolition’s side, Warlord & The Barbarian, the sole survivors, celebrated with Fuji on their shoulders. If Fuji’s plan was to side with the team that would ultimately beat Ax & Smash for the tag belts, he should’ve aligned with Bobby Heenan’s Brain Busters instead. They dethroned Demolition nearly a year later on a summer 1989 episode of Saturday Night’s Main Event. The Powers Of Pain would never become champions themselves and would eventually be split up to pursue uneventful solo careers with different managers. (Heenan took on Barbarian, Slick looked after Warlord. They would remain heels for the rest of their original WWF runs, although Barbarian would return briefly as a babyface under a different name, in order to fill in for an injured Samu, to join The Headshrinkers.) Fuji would eventually kiss and make up with Demolition (with Crush added to the team they turned heel again during their 3rd and final title reign in 1990) who would go their separate ways shortly after WrestleMania VII in 1991.
3. Before he made his debut at the 1990 Survivor Series, The Undertaker was originally billed as Kane, The Undertaker. As the show drew closer, “Kane” was mysteriously dropped from his name. The name would, of course, be recycled for his masked, long haired half-brother who would wrestle his first pay-per-view match at the infamous 1997 Survivor Series. He defeated Mankind.
Curiously, The Undertaker was accompanied by Brother Love to the ring. (The late, great Paul Bearer wouldn’t arrive to take over until early 1991.) After eliminating two members of Dusty Rhodes’ Dream Team (including the captain himself), The Dead Man was actually counted out. Ted DiBiase, Undertaker’s captain of The Million Dollar Team, was the sole survivor. A year later, with a big assist from Ric Flair, he defeated Hulk Hogan for his first WWF Championship in the first ever Survivor Series singles match.
4. The three babyface and five heel survivors of every match in the 1990 Survivor Series went on to battle in a handicap Grand Finale bonus match to determine the ultimate survivor, a concept that was never repeated at future shows. The Ultimate Warrior & Hulk Hogan were the last men standing that night.
5. In the near 30-year history of the event, there have been two shows that didn’t feature a single traditional elimination tag team match. Aside from a couple of title matches, the 1998 Survivor Series was all about the Deadly Games tournament which crowned a new WWF Champion. (The Rock defeated Mankind to win the strap.) The 2002 Survivor Series had three different kinds of elimination matches: a six-man tag team elimination tables match (The Dudleys & Jeff Hardy went over 3-Minute Warning & Rico); a three-way elimination match for the WWE tag team titles (Los Guerreros became the new champions over former titleholders Edge & Rey Mysterio and challengers Kurt Angle & Chris Benoit); and the very first Elimination Chamber for the World Heavyweight Championship (Shawn Michaels became the new champion after outlasting five other superstars).
6. Between 1987 & 2013, there were exactly 70 traditional Survivor Series elimination tag team matches. (November 24 UPDATE: It’s up to 72 now, thanks to two more such matches in 2014.) Up until 1999, with the exceptions of 1992, 1994 & 1998, there were at least four such matches booked for every show. (1989 had five, 1990 had six, the most in a single event.) Since then, there has been at least one elimination tag match on every Survivor Series since 2003 but no more than three. (The last time that happened was 2009.) After 2010 & 2011 had only one match each, there were two for both 2012 & 2013.
7. Of those 70 matches, only five featured women. After The Jumping Bomb Angels won the first one in 1987, Aja Kong was the sole survivor in 1995. Three more took place in 2008, 2009 and 2013. (November 24 UPDATE: A sixth match (4-on-4) took place in 2014, as well.)
8. Five years before their controversial world title match at the 1997 Survivor Series, Bret Hart & Shawn Michaels first battled for the WWF Championship in the main event of the 1992 Survivor Series. The Heartbreak Kid had just won the InterContinental title from Hart’s brother-in-law, The British Bulldog, during the last Saturday Night’s Main Event of the 1990s, but that belt was not on the line. Hart retained.
9. There was an unusual championship match at the 1993 Survivor Series. The Heavenly Bodies challenged The Rock & Roll Express for the Smoky Mountain Wrestling tag team championships. SMW was Jim Cornette’s short-lived independent promotion based out of Tennessee. Thanks to an arrangement with Vince McMahon, the Bodies won the belts from the Express on a national pay-per-view. It was the only title defended that night. The two teams had been feuding over the titles for the better part of a year. Originally, it was Stan Lane & Tom Prichard who were the Heavenly Bodies. Jimmy Del Rey replaced Lane in 1993. In the end, The Rock & Roll Express became 10-time SMW tag team champions, more than any other twosome. When Lane was in the picture, the Bodies won it five times. When Del Ray replaced him, they won it an additional three times. In fact, Del Rey & Prichard were the last SMW tag team champions when the promotion went out of business in late 1995. (Even before their high profile title win they were already working for the WWF and later appeared at the 1994 Survivor Series. For their part, The Rock & Roll Express signed up for their own brief WWF run in 1998.)
Eight years later, two World Championship Wrestling titles were merged with existing WWF championships at the 2001 Survivor Series. That marked the last time a non-WWF belt (excluding the ECW Championship which was briefly revived in 2006 as a third brand WWE world title) was ever defended at the annual event. Both WCW title holders were victorious. US Champion Edge became InterContinental champ & WCW tag champs The Dudleyz became WWF tag titleholders.
10. The 1997 Survivor Series is the only one in the history of the supercard that ever happened outside the United States. It took place at the Molson Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
11. The ECW, European and United States Championships are the only belts that never changed hands at the Survivor Series. Curiously, the Hardcore title was never defended at the event.
12. What’s the longest match in Survivor Series history? Team WWF vs. Team Alliance, the 5-on-5 tag team elimination main event in 2001. It lasted nearly 45 minutes. The shortest match? The Rock squashing The Big Boss Man in the first round of the Deadly Games Tournament in 1998 in just 4 seconds. In fact, this might be the quickest match in the history of professional wrestling.
13. Besides the 3-on-5 bonus match in 1990, there have been four other instances where a traditional elimination tag team match wasn’t 10-on-10, 5-on-5 or 4-on-4. There was a 3-on-3 in 1991, a 1-on-4 in 1999 (The Big Show took out his three partners before the event), a 4-on-5 in 2007 (Matt Hardy was supposed to be on the babyface team but was ultimately taken out prior to the event) and a 7-on-7 Divas match in 2013.
14. The WWE Championship has changed hands more than any other title in the history of the Survivor Series. 10 new champions have been crowned since The Undertaker’s historic victory in 1991. CM Punk was the last wrestler to snag the strap at the 2011 Survivor Series. Since it was merged with the World Heavyweight Championship (which has been captured three times since its introduction in 2002) in late 2013, it has yet to be defended at the event.
15. Whether he’s entering as champion or challenger, CM Punk has never lost a title match at the Survivor Series.
16. It was a bad night for defending champions at the 2002 Survivor Series. Five titles changed hands, the most at any individual show in the history of the event.
17. Randy Savage is the only wrestler to survive a traditional tag team elimination match in each of the first three Survivor Series shows. He’s the only one to go undefeated at the event in the 1980s.
18. “Tiny” Lister is the only celebrity to ever participate in a traditional tag team elimination match. He appeared at the 1989 Survivor Series as Zeus, his character from No Holds Barred. He was quickly disqualified for refusing to let go of Hulk Hogan’s neck. Chuck Norris is the only celebrity to officiate a match at the event. Well, sort of. He was booked as an outside enforcer for The Undertaker/Yokozuna Casket Match at the 1994 extravaganza.
19. Of the aforementioned 70 elimination tag matches, only one ended with no survivors. At the 1996 Survivor Series, Farooq, Vader, Razor Ramon & Diesel fought Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, Flash Funk, Savio Vega & Yokozuna to a no-contest. After the eliminations of Vega & Ramon, all the remaining participants were disqualified when they refused to stop brawling inside the ring.
20. Randy Orton, Hulk Hogan & The Ultimate Warrior have each survived four elimination tag matches, more than all other superstars in the history of the Survivor Series. Additionally, Hogan & Warrior are the only ones to survive two of these matches in the same night. As mentioned previously, that happened in 1990, the only time that was ever possible.
21. The Big Show is the only performer to win an elimination tag match in at least three different decades: 1999 (he survived a 4-1 handicap bout), 2004 & 2010. He’s also the only performer to win an elimination match and a world championship in a second encounter in the same night. After winning his handicap Survivor Series match in 1999, he went on to win the WWF Championship in a Triple Threat match against The Rock and defending titleholder, Triple H.
22. Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, Kane & John Layfield all share the dubious distinction of having been eliminated from all six traditional tag matches they appeared in, more than all other wrestlers in the history of the Survivor Series. If someone from Team Cena eliminates The Devil’s Favourite Demon in the main event of the 2014 Survivor Series, Kane will set a new record with seven. (November 24 UPDATE: He was pinned by Dolph Ziggler so Kane is now indeed the least successful wrestler in traditional Survivor Series matches with seven straight losses and no wins.)
23. Speaking of Layfield, he is the only performer to be eliminated under four different stage names: Justin Hawk Bradshaw (1996), Blackjack Bradshaw (1997), Bradshaw (1999, 2003) & John Bradshaw Layfield (2005, 2008). Jacques Rougeau was eliminated under three different names: his own (1987-9), The Mountie (1991) and Quebecer Jacques (1993).
24. Matt Bloom is the only man to lose three elimination tag matches under three different names in three different decades. He lost as Albert (1999), A-Train (2003) and Tensai (2012). Like JBL & Rougeau, he is winless in traditional Survivor Series tag matches.
25. What do Demolition, Haku, The Honky Tonk Man, Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, Chris Jericho, Edge, Christian, Big Boss Man, Ron Simmons, Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, R-Truth & Rob Van Dam all have in common? Despite multiple attempts (five for Boss Man, three each for Edge, Truth, Snuka & Jericho, and four apiece for everybody else), they’ve also never survived an elimination tag team match.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Thursday, November 19, 2014
UPDATE: Regarding number two, I added some details about The Barbarian returning as a babyface after being a heel during his initial WWF run, just to clarify that part.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, November 23, 2014
CORRECTIONS: For number six, I said that both the 1989 & 1990 Survivor Series had five matches apiece. The latter actually had six. This has been corrected in the text. I originally stated in number 12 that the longest match in Survivor Series history was the 10-on-10 match between Demolition’s team & The Powers Of Pain’s team in 1988 which lasted over 42 minutes. Wrong. Team WWF vs. Team Alliance in 2001 was longer, clocking in at roughly 45 minutes. Also, I said that The Big Show’s 1-on-4 handicap elimination match was the shortest match in the history of the event. It lasted less than 90 seconds. While it is indeed the shortest all-time traditional elimination match, The Rock vs. The Big Boss Man in 1998 is the shortest Survivor Series match, period. It was all over in just 4 seconds. These corrections have completely replaced the original text. My apologies for not getting all this right the first time as I should have.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, November 24, 2014
CORRECTION 2: Under number 9, I originally wrote, “The Heavenly Bodies ultimately joined the WWF and even appeared at the 1994 Survivor Series.” In reality, the team were already working for Vince McMahon the year they won the SMW tag titles from the Rock N Roll Express. My apologies for the mistake. That section has now been corrected and bracketed.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, December 7, 2014