This is a review of a Youtube video that WWE posted counting down 20 shocking Survivor Series Moments featuring major stars like The Rock, Steve Austin, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker and many more.
The WWE Survivor Series pay-per-view has been a US Thanksgiving tradition going back to the first event in 1987. Some of the events of the events took place on Thanksgiving day on a Thursday, then it was moved to a Wednesday on Thanksgiving Eve, then it was on Sundays and now it’s a Saturday event with this year’s show taking place two days after Thanksgiving.
To celebrate the history of Survivor Series, WWE posted this video of 20 Shocking Survivor Series Moments on Youtube and social media. The video runs 12:01 and I will post it at the bottom of this review.
Just a reminder that I have reviewed every Survivor Series PPV and you can find them on my listing of every WWE PPV in company history.
As usual, I’ll provide context for those moments and share my thoughts as we go through the countdown. Remember, this is WWE’s list, not my list.
20. The Rock Drops John Cena
This was in 2011 after The Rock hit John Cena with a Rock Bottom after they beat The Miz & R-Truth in the main event. It was a way to build the WrestleMania 28 main event between them. Cena rolled out of the ring right after so they can do some long distance staring to end the show.
19. Edge Sneaks Into Hell In A Cell
The main event of Survivor Series 2007 was a Hell in a Cell match between The Undertaker and Batista. Those two had a long rivalry that year and this time it was Batista defending the World Heavyweight Title against Undertaker. Edge was dressed as a camera guy, he revealed himself after pulling the referee out of the ring and Edge hit Taker with a camera. They didn’t show it, but Edge also hit Undertaker with a Conchairto leading to Edge putting Batista’s hand on Taker to give Batista the cheap win.
18. Big Show Betrays John Cena
This was from Survivor Series 2014. It was Team Cena against Team Authority with Big Show as a babyface on Cena’s team. The match was down to 3 on 3 at this point. After Cena was beaten up by the heels, he was down selling and as he got back up, Big Show gave Cena the KO Punch. Rollins covered Cena and eliminated him. Big Show also walked to the back to be eliminated by countout, so that left Dolph Ziggler all alone for his team.
17. Helen Hart Throws In The Towel
At Survivor Series 1994, Bret Hart was defending the WWE Title against Bob Backlund. While Backlund had Bret grounded in the Crossface Chickenwing submission, Owen Hart (who was against Bret at this point) tried to convince his mother Helen and father Stu to throw in the towel. Stu didn’t want to do it, but Helen grabbed the towel that Stu was holding and threw it in. Owen ran away with his arm in the air while Backlund became the WWE Champion.
16. Beth Phoenix Returns To Save Natalya
It was Survivor Series 2010 after Natalya beat Michelle McCool and Layla to win the Divas Title. As the former champions were attacking Natalya, Beth Phoenix made her return after a few months away. Phoenix helped Natalya clean house and hit a Glam Slam on Layla. Natalya and Beth celebrated Natalya’s win after that.
15. “Stone Cold” Drops Triple H In A Car
The main event of Survivor Series 2000 had a bizarre ending. Steve Austin’s match with Triple H saw them go into the parking lot where Triple H was in car while Austin was in a forklift. Austin picked up the car about 15 feet in the air and dropped it to the cement with the idea that Triple H was in the car at the time. Austin left the forklift at that point and the show ended like that.
14. The Undertaker Returns In A Flaming Casket
One of the big rivalries in 2005 was between The Undertaker and Randy Orton. After Orton was celebrating a big win with some of his heel buddies, a casket was set up vertically in the entrance way and The Undertaker emerged to kick some ass. It would set up a final Undertaker-Orton match inside Hell in a Cell at Armageddon 2005, which was won by Undertaker to win the feud.
13. Scott Steiner Returns
At Survivor Series 2002 in MSG, there was a heel promo from Matt Hardy and Chris Nowinski. That led to Scott Steiner making his WWE return after nearly a decade away. This was about a year and a half after WCW died. They didn’t show it, but Steiner beat up Hardy & Nowinski easily while the crowd popped huge for all of it, especially his “holla if ya hear me” promo. This was probably the best part of Steiner’s run over the next couple of years.
12. Dominik And Rey Mysterio’s Double 619
Brock Lesnar defended the WWE Title against Rey Mysterio at Survivor Series 2019. Brock dominated much of the match, but since it was No Holds Barred, Rey’s son Dominik got involved and hit Brock in the back with a steel chair. That led to the Mysterios hitting a double 619 on Lesnar. That’s all they showed. Lesnar would go on to win the match.
11. The Dudley Boyz Reunite
It’s back to the 2002 Survivor Series at a time when The Dudley Boyz were separated due to the first-ever WWE Draft earlier that year. Since neither Dudley was really thriving on their own, they used this moment to have D-Von save Bubba from a triple-team attack by Three Minute Warning and Rico. The MSG crowd popped huge for it as The Dudleys hit 3D on Rico through a table to give Bubba the win.
10. The Shield Debut
Let’s go back ten years to Survivor Series 2012. It was CM Punk as a heel defending the WWE Title against two faces, John Cena and Ryback in a triple threat match. Ryback hit Cena with his Shellshock finisher in the ring, but that’s when The Shield showed up. It was Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose & Roman Reigns making their main roster debut. The Shield gave Ryback a triple Powerbomb through the table. They didn’t show it, but Punk would go on to cover Cena to win. Cena basically laid there motionless for about two minutes after taking Shellshock. That’s a long sell for a guy that kicked out of a lot of big moves.
9. Paul Heyman Betrays Brock Lesnar
For the third time on this countdown, let’s go back to 2002 with Brock Lesnar defending the WWE Title against Big Show. Lesnar had a legit rib injury at the time so his ribs were taped. After Lesnar hit the F5, a new referee went down to the ring, Lesnar’s advocate Paul Heyman pulled the referee out and punched him in the head to stop the count. Big Show would end up winning the WWE Title thanks to Heyman’s help.
8. The Rock’s Controversial First WWE Title Win
The Deadly Games tournament at Survivor Series 1998 was all about crowning a new WWE Champion. The Rock and Mankind made the finals thanks in part to Shane McMahon turning heel by screwing Steve Austin out of a win against Mankind. Anyway, Rock put the Sharpshooter on Mankind and Vince McMahon called for the bell to end the match. The Rock was announced as the new WWE Champion even though Mankind didn’t give up. They didn’t show it (I have written that a lot), but Rock celebrated with Vince & Shane. Austin reappeared and attacked Rock as a tease for the WrestleMania 15 main event.
I would put this in the top three for sure. I think it was a huge moment that elevated Rock to the main event level. Plus, Rock was really popular with the crowd at this point, so it was a shock when he aligned with Vince and Shane. Plus, it was an awesome event.
7. “Stone Cold” Gets Run Over
Survivor Series 1999 was a show that I attended live in Detroit. The Triple H-Rock-Austin main event for the WWE Title was a big deal. It didn’t happen because a mystery driver ran over Austin in the parking lot. That was a way to write out Austin for nearly one year due to the major neck surgery he had. We would eventually find out it was Rikishi that did it, which wasn’t that great of a payoff so then they transitioned to saying Triple H made him do it and Austin sought revenge on both of them. The stuntman that took the bump on the car did a great job.
Anyway, Big Show replaced Austin in the WWE Title match, Show won the title and I was so disappointed by it. Card subject to change, of course.
6. Edge Returns To Win The World Title
Edge was back at Survivor Series 2008 after taking a few months off after The Undertaker destroyed him at SummerSlam 2008. The WWE Title match saw Triple H defending the gold against Vladimir Kozlov, but the heel Smackdown GM Vickie Guerrero added Edge to the match. A lot of chaos ensued after that and Edge ended up pinning Triple H after a Jeff Hardy chair shot. Edge was the new WWE Champion. It was not a long title reign, but it was a shocking ending to the match.
5. Kane Buries The Undertaker Alive
They showed this in black and white because there was a lot of blood in the match. I think that’s lame, but that’s WWE. It was Survivor Series 2003 with The Undertaker dominating Vince McMahon in a Buried Alive Match. Just when it looked like The Undertaker hat it won, Kane (in his maskless evil phase) showed up to attack his “big brother” Undertaker and put him in the grave site that was by the entrance area. Vince dumped the dirt onto Taker to win the match.
All of this was just a way to give Undertaker some time off to end his “American Badass” character and return as the traditional Undertaker five months later when he beat Kane at WrestleMania 20 in 2004.
4. Kurt Angle Saves Team WWE
Survivor Series 2001 was all about Team WWE vs. Team Alliance. The end of the match came down to Austin (of The Alliance) against WWE’s The Rock. The referee was bumped, which led to Kurt Angle running down to the ring. Angle was in the match on Austin’s team and he had already lost. People probably thought he’d help Austin win, but instead Angle hit Austin with the WWE Title and Rock hit a Rock Bottom to win. The WWE team got the win, which meant the end of The Alliance.
3. Sheamus Cashes In
The end of Survivor Series 2015 saw Sheamus cash in the Money in the Bank briefcase on Roman Reigns. The reason Reigns was down on the mat is because he hit Triple H with a Spear and right after that, Sheamus hit him with Brogue Kick. That’s when Sheamus cashed in Money in the Bank. Sheamus got a nearfall for two. When Reigns got back up, Sheamus hit a Brogue Kick on Reigns and Sheamus left as the WWE Champion.
2. Goldberg Dominates Brock Lesnar
This was another Survivor Series I was at in 2016. This was in Toronto. The main event was Brock Lesnar facing Goldberg, who was in his first WWE match in 12 years. Lesnar was booked in such a dominant way for the two years prior that I think most people picked him to win. Instead, Goldberg won in under two minutes. We didn’t know it at the time, but Goldberg agreed to stick around longer and the feud stretched until WrestleMania 33 with Lesnar getting his win back there.
1. Controversial Ending To 1997 Main Event
A no-brainer choice for number one. People will always associate Survivor Series with the Shawn Michaels-Bret Hart match known as the Montreal Screwjob with Vince McMahon and referee Earl Hebner calling for the bell while Michaels had Bret in a Sharpshooter. Bret thought he was going to counter it and they would do a “schmoz” finish, but instead, Vince and a few others in the know screwed Bret to get the WWE Title off him before left for WCW.
I wrote a lot about that Montreal Screwjob finish in the Survivor Series 1997 review, so check that out if you want my thoughts on it.
The full video counting is available on WWE’s Youtube channel.
I think they did a pretty good job. Number one was definitely right. Some of the others are a bit questionable, but I understand why they put everything they put. I don’t think there were many bad choices. As I wrote in the review, I would put The Rock at 1998 into the top three for sure.
What really stood out is that this list was dominated by male performers. They only included one women’s moment. Maybe there aren’t a lot of big moments featuring women at Survivor Series, but they probably could have found something else.
They also didn’t feature much from some of the earlier Survivor Series shows. The earliest they went is 1994. I don’t know anything off the top of my head from the ones before that, but it tells me that they wanted to focus on more recent content instead of going old school.
The common theme for a lot of them is that something big happened leading to a finish of a match. That’s what most of them are. Clearly, Survivor Series has had a lot of shocking moments over the last 35 years.
That’s all for me.
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