TJR: Ranking The 10 Greatest Matches in WWE Survivor Series History (Not Including Elimination Tag Team Matches)

TJR: Ranking The 10 Greatest Matches in WWE Survivor Series History (Not Including Elimination Tag Team Matches)

There have been 33 WWE Survivor Series events heading into this year’s show on November 22. I can proudly say I’ve reviewed them all as you can see right here in our Survivor Series section on TJRWrestling. I’m not going to count how many total matches there are, but it’s a lot.

What I’m going to do in this column is a countdown of the ten greatest matches in WWE Survivor Series history…with a caveat. This list is only going to be matches that are not traditional elimination matches. The reason for that is because last year I posted the 10 Best WWE Survivor Series Elimination Matches Ever and I also posted the 10 Worst WWE Survivor Series Elimination Matches Ever. There’s no point in including them in rankings again, so I’m only going with the matches that are not the traditional elimination matches.

I’ll post the full write-up and analysis of those ten matches, but here’s a listing of five matches that came up short.

Ric Flair vs. Triple H in a Last Man Standing Match @ Survivor Series 2005 (**** out of five)

Adam Cole vs. Pete Dunne @ Survivor Series 2019 (****)

Batista vs. The Undertaker in a Hell in a Cell Match for the World Heavyweight Title @ Survivor Series 2007 (***3/4)

Los Guerreros (Eddie and Chavo Guerrero) vs. Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle vs. Edge and Rey Mysterio for the Smackdown Tag Team Titles @ Survivor Series 2002 (***3/4)

John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H for the WWE Title @ Survivor Series 2009 (***3/4)

The two matches above that were at four stars are tied four other four-star matches. That means they’re all pretty close, so I’m just going with what I liked a bit more. I’m going to post the full reviews below and also add some updated 2020 thoughts in blue font as well.

10. The Shield (Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose) vs. The New Day (Big E, Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) @ Survivor Series 2017

Rollins and Ambrose are wearing the half Raw/half Shield t-shirts while wrestling. Reigns was just going with a vest look. Ambrose slapped Kingston and they tagged out. Rollins clothesline on Woods. Big E and Roman Reigns got a chance to lock up with Big E hitting a shoulder tackle. Reigns came back with a back elbow. Big E ran the ropes and Reigns hit a Samoan Drop for two. Kingston and Ambrose tagged in with Ambrose hitting a clothesline on Kingston. The Shield did a three-man clothesline that sent Big E and Kingston out of the ring. Reigns was booed a bit when he was in there, but not that loud as Reigns hit a clothesline on Woods. Rollins tagged in with a punch off the top rope. Ambrose clothesline, Rollins knee drop and Ambrose elbow drop earned a two count on Woods. Kingston got the tag and was on fire with a dropkick as well as a running clothesline on Ambrose. Boom drop leg drop by Kingston on Ambrose. That led to Ambrose nearly hitting Dirty Deeds, but Kingston drove him into the corner and Big E pounded Ambrose in the corner. The New Day trio did their unicorn stampede stomp on Ambrose in the corner. Booker wanted the ref to do something about it, but the announcers correctly told him it’s legal since they were tagging out. Ambrose broke free by avoiding a Kingston attack and hit a clothesline on Big E. Woods tagged in to keep Ambrose in the corner. New Day did the unicorn stampede again and Booker said they were running out of material. Rollins and Reigns had enough, so they attacked the guys on the apron. Ambrose hit a suicide dive to take out Woods on the floor. Ambrose was on the apron, so Big E hit a Spear to take him out as they went crashing to the mat.

They went back into the ring with Big E taking off Ambrose’s t-shirt, so Ambrose was wearing a black tank top. Big E back elbow on Ambrose for a two count. Woods slapped on an armbar and you can see Ambrose talking to him to set up the next spot. Woods hit Ambrose with a headbutt to prevent a tag. Ambrose slammed Woods down as they battled on the top rope. Big E tagged in with a belly to belly tease off the top, but Ambrose fought it off and Ambrose hit a missile dropkick. Kingston tagged in, knocked Reigns off the apron and Ambrose tagged in Rollins. That led to Rollins on fire with a blockbuster followed by the Slingblade for a two count on Kingston. Woods was legal again, Reigns got the tag, Rollins sent Woods into the corner with a Buckle Bomb and Reigns hit a hard leaping clothesline on Woods for a two count. Woods avoided a Superman Punch from Reigns and Woods got a rollup for two. They had a nice exchange that ended with Reigns hitting a Superman Punch. The crowd was cheering. Reigns charged, Woods kick to the face, Ambrose tag in, Big E tag in and Big E hit a belly to belly suplex on Reigns. Big E and Ambrose went at it, but Rollins got in there with kicks for Big E and Kingston. Rollins hit his knee to the face and Ambrose hit Dirty Deeds on Kingston for a two count as Woods made the save. Rollins knocked Woods down with a superkick. Rollins told his teammates to end it now. Reigns and Ambrose sent Big E into the barricade. They sent Kingston into the other barricade on the other side of the ring. Shield went for the Powerbomb, but Big E got back up to send Reigns into the steel steps. Woods nailed a kick on Ambrose. Kingston nailed a running kick on Reigns on the floor. Big E sent Ambrose into the turnbuckle while Kingston and Woods kicked Ambrose in the head at the same time. Woods had Big E on his shoulders, Kingston jumped over them and hit a splash. Big E also hit a splash. That was unique! Big E managed to get Seth and Dean on each of his shoulders. That led to Kingston and Woods jumping off the ropes with a double Midnight Hour. Another really cool spot. Reigns hit a Spear on Big E to break up the pin. All six guys were down. The crowd loved all of this as did I.

All six guys got back to their feet on opposite sides and it became a slugfest. Rollins hit Woods with his knee to the face on one side of the floor. Ambrose hit Dirty Deeds on Big E on the other side of the floor. Kingston missed an attack on Reigns in the ring, so Reigns hit a Spear on Kingston. All three Shield guys were in the ring. Reigns sat on the turnbuckle. Rollins and Ambrose hoisted Kingston up and Reigns delivered the triple Powerbomb off the ropes. Ambrose covered Kingston for the pinfall win after 22 minutes.

Winners by pinfall: The Shield

Analysis: **** Excellent tag match that was four stars out of five. The outcome was obvious to anybody that watches WWE regularly because we all knew they weren’t going to have The Shield lose in their second match on TV (they won last Monday on Raw too). I liked how they did some cool spots like the double splash spot by The New Day that we haven’t seen before. There was also that cool moment where they reset the match as everybody went back into their corners and that set up the obvious finish with The Shield getting the win. It was an exciting match from start to finish. Nice job by everybody involved. I expected an awesome match and a long match, which it was. Glad they got time to do their thing like that.

(It’s cool that this match happened between two of the best three-man groups in WWE history. I watched it again for the sake of this column and it holds up really well. Fans probably don’t remember it that well, but I do recommend if you have forgotten about it.)

 

9. Randy Orton vs. Shawn Michaels for the WWE Championship @ Survivor Series 2007

Pre-match notes: If Michaels (the face challenger) uses the Superkick then he will be disqualified. If Orton (the heel champion) is disqualified then he will lose the WWE Championship. Orton was 27 at this point and Michaels was 42.

Michaels had a vice grip like headlock on Orton’s head for the first two minutes of the match. Orton was able to get him off his back and then Michaels applied the vice grip headlock again. The first five minutes of this match saw Michaels in control with that tight headlock. Orton escaped to the floor, Michaels with a dropkick and Michaels hit a springboard moonsault to take him out on the floor. Back in the ring, Orton rolled through a cross body block for a two count. Orton uppercut knocked down Michaels. Michaels came back with a Sharpshooter. He didn’t apply it properly, but it was good enough. Orton got to the ropes to break the hold. Michaels was on the apron, Orton caught him and hit the draping DDT that would become a regular part of his arsenal. Michaels came back with an atomic drop, but Orton stopped his momentum with a dropkick for a two count.

Michaels with two body slams. Michaels went up top and hit the flying elbow drop. Michaels teased a Superkick, Orton ducked his head and Michaels did an inside cradle for two with a big pop from the crowd for the nearfall. Orton sat on top to counter a sunset flip. Michaels applied the Crossface submission. He had the submission on for nearly one minute. Orton crawled over to the ropes and put his foot on the bottom rope to break the hold. Orton came back with a nasty clothesline that Michaels sold in a big way. Orton with a modified backbreaker. Orton teased the Punt kick of his. Michaels avoided it and applied the Ankle Lock submission. Michaels wrapped his legs around the leg of Orton for the grapevine version of the move that Kurt Angle did so many times. Orton was writhing in pain and even biting his own fingers to numb the pain. Orton kicked out of it using his other leg. When Michaels went for a Figure Four Leglock, Orton kicked him away and Michaels hit the ring post. Michaels was dazed, Orton had a bloody mouth and went for an RKO. Michaels teased a superkick, realized he couldn’t do it and that hesitation led to Orton hitting the RKO. Orton covered for the one…two…and three to retain the WWE Title at the 17:48 mark.

Winner by pinfall: Randy Orton

Analysis: **** Great match that was four stars out of five. The story was all about Michaels trying to get the victory in a number of different ways since he couldn’t use his finisher. They both went for pinfall attempts the whole match, which shows how much they wanted to win. It’s all about putting over the importance of winning the match. Michaels’ performance was incredible. Orton certainly kept up with him, but it was the veteran Michaels that really made that match special. I think Shawn is the best in-ring performer ever and while this isn’t a match that I would put in his top ten matches, it’s an example of how talented he was. I remember going into this match thinking that maybe they’ll put the title on Michaels for a few months, but it didn’t happen. Orton was booked as a strong champion thanks to this feud with Michaels, who put him over clean at a major show like Survivor Series.

After the match was over, Michaels stayed on the mat without moving for a couple of minutes. Orton left the ring, but then he slithered his way back in there. Orton dragged Michaels over to a turnbuckle and yelled at Michaels to tell Orton that he’s the best. Orton turned back around and Michaels crushed him with that patented Sweet Chin Music Superkick. Orton was out in the middle ring. Big pop from the crowd for that. Michaels left the ring first.

Analysis: Great moment. No Sweet Chin Music during the match, but Michaels gave the crowd what they wanted after it was over.

FULL MATCH - Randy Orton vs. Shawn Michaels – WWE Title Match: Survivor Series 2007

(I included the post match part because it was such a key part of this story with the fans popping huge when Michaels connected with the Sweet Chin Music. Michaels put over Orton in Randy’s career and this was definitely one of their best singles matches. The story of Shawn not being able to use the Superkick was intriguing and I loved how it played into the finish.)

 

8. Universal Champion Brock Lesnar vs. WWE Champion Daniel Bryan @ Survivor Series 2018 

Brock Lesnar was the Universal Champion on Raw and Daniel Bryan was the WWE Champion on Smackdown.

Bryan started the match by leaving the ring to go for a jog. Lesnar got sick of it, so he left the ring and Bryan went back in the ring. Bryan went for a kick, Lesnar caught the foot and Lesnar punched Bryan in the head. Lesnar picked up Bryan and hit a release German Suplex that sent Bryan across the ring. That looked brutal. Lesnar yelled “Suplex City” so the fans chanted it for him. Lesnar picked up Bryan again and hit another German Suplex across the ring. Heyman had his hand over his mouth as if he was shocked by it. Lesnar picked up Bryan and hit him with a belly to belly suplex across the ring. At least that was a safer bump for Bryan with Renee saying she was legitimately concerned for the health of Bryan. Lesnar told Bryan he can do this all night long. Lesnar with two more belly to belly suplexes across the ring and Lesnar kicked Bryan out of the ring. Lesnar whipped Bryan into the barricade. Lesnar sent Bryan into the ring, so Bryan rolled out of the ring again. Lesnar whipped Bryan into the barricade and then sent Bryan into the ring. Lesnar applied a bearhug to Bryan followed by a hard slam to the mat. Cole said this was one of the most uncomfortable matches he’s seen. Lesnar picked up Bryan and hit another German Suplex across the ring. The fans chanted “same old shit” at Lesnar with Lesnar laughing about it. Lesnar slapped on a bearhug. Lesnar with a belly to belly suplex across the ring with Lesnar saying he can do this “all night long.” Bryan had a dazed look in his eyes. Lesnar picked up Bryan, he said “goodnight everybody” and Lesnar hit a F5. Lesnar covered, the referee counted and Lesnar picked him back up.

Bryan finally got some offense going as he kicked Lesnar in the head two times. Lesnar picked up Bryan again, Lesnar with a F5 and Bryan went into the referee, so Bryan landed on his feet. Bryan with a running kick to the balls! Bryan with a running knee to the face for a two count with Lesnar kicking out right before the three count. That was so great. Lesnar stomped away on the face of Lesnar to keep him down while Lesnar had was down selling and gasping for air. Heyman was freaking out at ringside. Bryan charged in, Lesnar caught him and Bryan sent Lesnar over the top to the floor. Bryan over the top, Lesnar caught him and Bryan sent Lesnar into the ring post. Bryan with a running knee off the apron that took down Lesnar on the floor. Bryan ran the ropes and hit a suicide dive, but Lesnar caught him and Lesnar drove Bryan back first into the ring post. Lesnar sent Bryan back first into the post again. Lesnar attacked with the steel steps, but Bryan moved and Bryan hit a running knee off the apron to the floor. Lesnar sent Bryan back in the ring. Bryan hit a running knee to the face for a two count. That was a great nearfall. Bryan with a chop block to the back of the leg of Lesnar. Bryan rammed Lesnar’s left leg into the steel ring post. Back in the ring, Bryan went up top and connected with a missile dropkick. Bryan with two running dropkicks. Bryan charged again, Lesnar caught him, Lesnar collapsed and Bryan slapped on the Yes Lock submission move in the middle of the ring. Lesnar nearly tapped out a few times, but he managed to break the grip. Bryan hit Lesnar with forearms to the face, which looked nasty. Bryan slapped on the Yes Lock again. Lesnar powered out of the Yes Lock leading to Bryan slapping on a Triangle Choke. Lesnar picked up Bryan and hit an F5. Lesnar covered for the pinfall win at 18:50.

Winner by pinfall: Brock Lesnar

Analysis: **** That was an awesome match after the first nine minutes saw Lesnar dominate and then Bryan got back into it. There were several moments in the match where it looked like Bryan was going to win. People are hard on Lesnar with good reason, but he was great in terms of selling for Bryan’s offense. It would have been cool if Bryan kicked out of the F5 at the end because it would put Bryan over a bit more, but it’s not like a lot of guys kick out of that move other than Reigns or Strowman. I’m just saying it could have kept the match going a bit longer. The match was similar to last year’s Lesnar/Styles match where Styles came close to winning a few times and Lesnar managed to win that match just like this match. If Lesnar got to work with the best workers like Styles and Bryan all the time, most people wouldn’t complain about his matches. It’s a reminder of how good Lesnar is when he wants to be. I’m not saying he carried this match. Not at all. Bryan’s performance was the better of the two, but I thought Brock was great as well. Overall, it was an excellent story in terms of how the match went. I enjoyed it.

(I remember being excited about this going into it, but also a bit worried due to Bryan turning heel prior to the match, so it was a matchup of two heels, which can sometimes be a bad thing. However, they worked really well together and had an excellent match especially after Lesnar dominated the first half of it. I liked this match a lot.)

 

7. Shawn Michaels (w/Jose Lothario) vs. Sycho Sid for the WWE Championship @ Survivor Series 1996 

Pre-match notes: Sid was the bigger heel with Michaels as the babyface champion although the crowd reactions were different for this match.

It was even early on as Sid went for a press slam, but Michaels fought out of it. The crowd went wild when Sid teased a Powerbomb. Michaels did a chop block to knock Sid down. There was a “Sycho Sid” chant. Michaels applied a Figure Four Leglock, but Sid got to the ropes soon after. Sid kicked Michaels into the shoulder so that Michaels’ left shoulder hit the ring post. A camera guy was too close, so Sid shoved him. That’s important for later. Sid missed a running kick and Michaels came back with a dropkick to the knee. Sid hit a clothesline that sent Michaels over the top to the floor. Sid whipped Michaels back first into the ring apron and then dropped him throat first on the guard rail. Sid rolled a battered Michaels back into the ring for a two count. Sid with a running kick in the corner. Michaels stunned him on the top rope by ramming his throat into it. Michaels jumped off the top, Sid caught him, the crowd cheered and a backbreaker by Sid gets two. Sid whipped Michaels hard into the corner two times in a row as he continued to dominate. Comeback by Michaels with punches and then a body slam. Michaels jumped off the middle rope, Sid got his boot up and Michaels landed on his head…which gave us this meme…and then Michaels went down. Michaels’ bumping was pretty incredible even if it was over the top a bit.

Michaels nailed some punches, Sid wanted a Chokeslam and Michaels blocked it with an eye poke. Sid blocked Sweet Chin Music, spun him around and nailed a one-armed Chokeslam to a huge ovation. Wow, what a pop for that! Sid took a long time to set up a Powerbomb, so Michaels got a small package for a two count. Powerslam by Sid gets two. Michaels came back with a flying forearm followed by a kip-up and Sid knocked him back down with a clothesline for two. Sid grabbed a camera from a ringside cameraman. Jose Lothario was on the apron, so Sid hit him with it. The silliest thing about it was that referee Earl Hebner looked only at Michaels, so the idea was he never saw what Sid did. When Sid turned back around, Michaels nailed the Sweet Chin Music superkick to knock Sid down. Michaels looked down at Lothario on the floor and then left the ring to check on him. He yelled at somebody to come down to the ring to check on him. Sid went out of the ring, rolled Michaels back in and they did a spot where Michaels hit a cross body block on Hebner after Sid moved out of the way. Michaels checked on Lothario again, so Sid picked up the camera and hit Michaels in the back with it. There were a lot of cheers for that. JR was saying he hoped Jose wasn’t having a heart attack. Sid rolled Michaels back into the ring. Sid set up for a Powerbomb and he connected with it. A groggy Earl Hebner counted the pin…one…two…three! Sid wins the WWE World Title at the 20:02 mark. Vince: “I can’t believe it!”

Winner by pinfall and New WWE World Champion: Sycho Sid

Analysis: **** Four stars out of five. One of the best matches in Sid’s career as well as an example of why Michaels was one of the best wrestlers ever. Sid was not known for great matches, but Michaels had the ability to carry inferior workers and that’s what he did here. Michaels was really on his game in this match as he bumped all over the place to make Sid look strong. The crowd reactions were so interesting because normally Michaels would have been cheered heavily at the time, but New York was such a different crowd during this show. The bit with the camera was a unique finish as well as a way for Sid to beat him in controversial way. It’s a good ending because it set up the rematch well to make fans wonder what it will be like when they faced off again.

Post match, Sid celebrated with the WWE Title. Michaels checked on Lothario as EMTs showed up to wheel Lothario to the back. Michaels stumbled to the back to be with Lothario.

Analysis: It was just a story and Lothario was fine. They used Lothario as a way for Sid to win the title in a cheap manner.

(This is probably the best Sid singles match I’ve ever seen. Sid was not known for being a great in-ring performer, but he had a presence about him as an intimidating big man. You can call it a carry job by Shawn Michaels if you want, but Sid was working his ass off here as well and it was memorable because of how much the crowd was into it. They really wanted Sid to win even though he was the heel in the match. I thought the finish was very creative in terms of doing something that was hard to predict. It would set up Michaels getting the title back at Royal Rumble 1997 in a match that wasn’t as good as this. The original plan for this match was for Vader to win the WWF Title here, but Shawn didn’t like working with Vader, so Sid was put in this spot for what was his first WWF Title win.) 

 

6. Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels for the WWF Championship @ Survivor Series 1992 

Pre-match notes: Michaels is the heel that’s holding the IC Title while Hart is the face holding the WWE Title. As mentioned a few times, only Hart’s WWE Title was on the line.

Slow start to the match as both guys battled for control. The first five minutes featured a lot of basic stuff like wrist locks and headlocks. Hart leveraged Michaels out of the ring to counter a hammerlock. Hart with a running cross body block, Michaels kicked out and Hart came back with a sunset flip for two. Back to an armbar for Hart. Heenan mentioned how well conditioned they are, so Vince plugged ICOPRO. Hard clothesline by Hart gets two. Michaels finally got some offense in with a stun gun move where he draped the throat of Hart across the top rope. Hart went for a shoulder tackle in the corner, but Michaels moved and Hart hit the post. Michaels whipped Hart into the corner for Hart’s patented sternum first turnbuckle bump. Long headlock from Michaels. When Hart got back up, Michaels pulled him down by the hair. Dropkick by Michaels and then a backbreaker. Another chinlock by Michaels. Hart got back to his feet and hit a swinging neckbreaker. Michaels applied a front facelock to wear down Hart more. Hart fought out of it, hit double boot in the corner and a bulldog. Elbow off the middle rope missed for Hart as Michaels got a two count.

Michaels nailed a running back elbow for a two count. Heenan freaked out saying that Michaels had him. Another front facelock for Michaels. Hart got back to his feet and did an inside cradle for two. Belly to back suplex by Hart with Michaels taking a big bump off of it. Michaels ran the ropes, Hart caught him and did the slingshot into the ring post. Michaels took a huge bump off that move. Hart tossed Michaels across the ring and sent him into the turnbuckle. Back body drop by Hart gets a two count. Hart with a Russian legsweep for two and then a backbreaker. Elbow drop off the middle ropes by Hart gets two. Those are some of his signature moves. Hart nailed Michaels with a superplex while Hart was on the middle ropes, which was good for a two count. Sleeper by Hart, so Michaels drove him back to squash the ref in the corner. Michaels leveraged Hart out of the ring while the ref was back on his feet. Michaels sent Hart back first into the ring post. Michaels with a body slam on the floor. Back in the ring, Michaels whipped Hart into the turnbuckle for a two count. Back body drop by Michaels gets a two count. Hart rollup for two. Michaels came back with a Superkick. It was not known as Sweet Chin Music at this point, but that’s what he hit. Michaels hit his Teardrop Suplex (that was his finisher most of the time in those days) for a two count. Whip into the ropes, Hart nailed a forearm that tied up Michaels in the ropes. Hart missed an attack that sent him crashing into the ropes. Michaels jumped off the middle rope, Hart caught him and applied his Sharpshooter submission. Michaels gave up to give the submission win to Hart at the 26:40 mark.

Winner by submission: Bret Hart

Analysis: ****1/4 A clean win for Hart as expected. Michaels had a lot of chances to win near the end of the match, but Hart kept kicking out. I like how the first Sharpshooter attempt by Hart is what won him the match. He didn’t go for the move a lot. He went for it once and that was enough to win. This was Michaels’ first singles match in the main event of a PPV. He proved that he belonged with a very good performance. I liked his aggressiveness as a heel, his ability to bump was always a strength and he reminded us that he had a very bright future. Hart was known as the Excellence of Execution because he made everything look so easy. When he worked with somebody as quick as Michaels he could work a more aggressive style and I thought that he was at his best that way. They obviously had a more famous match at Survivor Series five years later, but this one still holds up well 24 years later.

Bret Hart vs Shawn Michaels from WWE Survivor Series 11/25/92

(This is not their most famous match obviously because five years later at Survivor Series 1997 they were part of the “Montreal Screwjob.” That match was on its way to being very good too, but this is the better match overall mainly because it’s longer and had a clean finish. I don’t think many people watching this match thought that Shawn was going to win the WWF Title because he just wasn’t at that level yet, but he was the right guy to have a great match with Bret because frankly there were few options at this point in 1992. I thought the final few minutes were excellent. A small complaint would be that I think it was too long and maybe if they shoved off six to eight minutes it would have been a better match. I still liked it a lot.) 

 

5. Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey vs. Charlotte Flair @ Survivor Series 2018

Ronda Rousey was the Raw Women’s Champion while Smackdown Women’s Champion Becky Lynch was injured with a broken nose, so Charlotte Flair was Becky’s chosen replacement.

The crowd chanted “Becky” at the start of the match although there is no sign of Lynch yet. Rousey wasn’t wearing a Raw shirt, but she had on some redon her gear. Flair shoved Rousey down. They did a cool spot with Rousey ducking a clothesline and getting an armbar. Flair came back with a sunset flip, but Rousey fought back with another armbar attempt and Flair backed away to create space. Flair grounded Rousey with the fans chanting for both women. Flair whipped Rousey face first into the bottom turnbuckle with Rousey taking a good bump. Flair with an overhead suplex across the ring. Flair worked on the left knee of Rousey by bending it back. Rousey had a busted lip from something that happened in the match. There was a replay of a Charlotte hitting Rousey with an elbow to the face leading to a bloody mouth for Rousey. The ref put on the dreaded white gloves. Rousey broke free with a knee lift and an armbar using the ropes. Rousey went up top, so Flair kicked her foot to knock her down. Flair set up for a superplex, Rousey blocked and tossed Flair off face first. Rousey grabbed Flair and rolled into an armbar submission, but Flair fought out of it. Flair managed to counter into a Boston Crab submission. That was cool. Rousey slipped out of that, so Flair wanted the Figure Four, but Rousey kicked out of that and Flair kicked Rousey down again. Flair wanted the Natural Selection, but Rousey avoided it and wrenched on the arm of Flair. Flair with a backbreaker followed by a kick to the head as Flair took a break against the turnbuckle. Flair went up top and she went for a moonsault, but Rousey got her feet up to block. Rousey got Flair on her shoulders leading to a rolling senton. Rousey tried to fire up the crowd and Flair hit a Spear that folded up Rousey for a two count. Great nearfall. Flair slapped on the Figure Four submission hold, but she didn’t turn it into the Figure Eight submission because Rousey reversed it, so they rolled all the way out of the ring. Rousey got back up first as she whipped Flair into the barricade. Back in the ring, Rousey took down Flair with three armbars. Rousey with punches to the head, but Flair came back with chops with the crowd chanting “woo” along with all of them and Flair kicked the leg of Rousey to weaken her some more. Rousey blocked a chop, but Flair managed to come back with a boot to the face for two.  The fans chanted “this is awesome” for them as both women were down.

Flair picked up Rousey for a slam, but Rousey managed to counter into an armbar. Flair rolled out of the ring to break free. Rousey picked up Flair and hit a spinning slam that Cole said it’s called Piper’s Pit to pay homage to Roddy Piper. Flair fought off an armbar attempt and left the ring again. Rousey’s bloody mouth wasn’t that bad at all. Flair went back in the ring to break the count and then left the ring again. Rousey was sick of that, so Rousey charged at Flair outside the ring and Flair hit Rousey in the ribs with a kendo stick leading to the DQ finish at 14:40. That drew a big reaction from the crowd with a mix of cheers and boos.

Winner by disqualification: Ronda Rousey

Analysis: ****1/4 That was an awesome match that was probably the best Rousey match to date, which is not a surprise because Flair is the best opponent she has been in the ring with. The intensity of the match was so great from the moment it started with each woman treating this like a big fight and they made it seem like a fight rather than a traditional wrestling match. The finish was interesting because the story became that Flair couldn’t win the match, so she went the cheap route with the kendo stick coming. I didn’t think it was going to end that way with Flair going the cheap route. I picked Rousey to win and yeah, she did win, but I didn’t think the DQ was coming. It’s still a great match and I feel like when they do it again, that’s going to be an even better match.

After the match was over, Flair grabbed a kendo stick and hit Rousey repeatedly in the back with it. The kendo stick broke as Flair hit her with it repeatedly. Flair grabbed another kendo stick and hit Rousey in the back repeatedly. The referee was telling Flair to stop, but she wouldn’t do it. Flair had a crazy look in her eyes telling the story that she has snapped. Flair grabbed a chair from ringside. The referee was finally able to stop her. Flair left the ring, but then she went back in with the fans cheering her. Flair hit a Natural Selection neckbreaker onto the chair. The fans chanted “yes” for Charlotte’s actions. There were other referees that ran out to the ring to stop Charlotte, but she didn’t stop because she attacked the referees with punches and a spear. Flair put the chair on Rousey’s neck, Rousey held the chair in place and Charlotte shoved the ref out of the ring. Flair stomped on the chair that was around Rousey’s neck. There were agents from the back like Adam Pearce and Jamie Noble as well as doctors that checked on Rousey. The fans chanted “Thank You Charlotte” as doctors checked on Rousey. Replays aired of the Flair attack.

Relive Charlotte Flair's ruthless attack on Ronda Rousey: SmackDown LIVE, Nov. 20, 2018

Analysis: Holy shit, that was amazing. What a performance by Charlotte Flair in losing her mind for what might be considered a heel turn, but I don’t know if women in this company can be booed for actions like that because the fans love it. The fans supported Charlotte during that entire attack and it’s easy to see why because she let out her frustrations due to not being able to win, plus the story of Flair failing to beat Becky Lynch a few weeks ago. The story is that Flair has been frustrated, so she took it out on Rousey. Give Rousey a lot of credit as well because she took that beating very well and sold for Flair’s attack perfectly. These women stole the show with that performance after the match. It was so great. Is Charlotte a heel now? I think this was a heel turn, but she might get cheered like Lynch was, so I have no idea if the heel act is going to make her a heel. It’s tough to know in today’s wrestling environment where fans cheer heels so much.

(This is the only women’s match that made the top ten. It’s so great. My original rating for it the night that it aired was ***3/4, but after a rewatch I boosted it up to ****1/4 because I really liked the story and intensity shown by both women. Then I think about the post match action as well and it’s so well done. The crowd was invested in it because Rousey was a dominant Raw Women’s Champion and fans respected her, but they also wanted to see her get her ass kicked. Flair was so awesome in the match and even better post-match with the attack. While they were a part of the WrestleMania 35 main event a few months after this, it’s a shame that we didn’t get another Rousey vs. Flair singles match. Maybe one day in the future we will get that.) 

 

4. Universal Champion Brock Lesnar vs. WWE Champion AJ Styles @ Survivor Series 2017

There was an “AJ Styles/Suplex City” chant to start the match. Lesnar drove Styles into the turnbuckle and tossed him across the ring. Lesnar tossed Styles across the ring again. Lesnar hit an overhead belly to belly suplex that sent Styles across the ring. Fans did the chant for both guys again. Lesnar picked up Styles around the waist and hit a release German Suplex. Lesnar tossed Styles over the top to the floor. That was a rough landing for Styles. Lesnar left the ring and he whipped Styles into the side of the announce table at ringside. Back in the ring, Lesnar hit another release German Suplex for Styles. Lesnar continued his offense with a running knee to the face. Lesnar told Styles to fight him. Styles tried to attack, but Lesnar avoided it and Lesnar punched him hard in the chest. Styles finally got going with some punches and chops, but Lesnar stopped him with a knee to the gut. Lesnar wanted a F5, Styles avoided it, Lesnar missed a knee attack in the corner, Styles kicked the knee and Styles hit a DDT. The fans chanted for Styles as Styles kicked the legs of Lesnar. Kick to the head by Styles. They did a spot where Styles tried a moonsault, Lesnar caught him and sent him into the corner. Styles went for a Tornado DDT, but Lesnar shoved him off. That may have been a slip, but it looked good. Both guys were down and Styles hit a Pele Kick to the back of the head that Lesnar sold well. Styles went to the apron, jumped off and Lesnar hit a German Suplex with Styles landing over on his stomach. Lesnar tried a punch, but Styles managed to dump over the top to the floor. Styles did a slingshot dive over the top into a forearm smash on Lesnar on the floor. Styles continued the attack on the floor by running, jumping off the ring steps and hitting a forearm to the face.

They went back into the ring, Lesnar hit a punch and Styles came back with an enziguri kick. Styles hit a moonsault off the middle ropes. Styles went to the apron and hit a Springboard 450 Splash for a two count. The announcers noted that it was the first cover attempt of the match 12 minutes into it. Styles teased the Styles Clash, Lesnar teased the F5 and Styles countered into the Calf Crusher submission. The crowd was going wild for this. Styles pulled on the leg of Lesnar while Lesnar was screaming in pain. Lesnar fought out of it by ramming Styles’ head into the mat several times. Nice spot. The crowd was really into this. Both guys got back to their feet, Styles hit a kick to the head and Styles hit the Phenomenal Forearm for a two count. Awesome nearfall. Crowd was going wild here. Styles went for the Phenomenal Forearm again, Lesnar caught him on his shoulders, Lesnar was selling his left knee injury by limping and Lesnar hit the F5 for the pinfall win at 15:25.

Winner by pinfall: Brock Lesnar

Analysis: ****1/2 Excellent match. Lived up to the hype as a fight between the best of the best. That’s the best singles Lesnar match since SummerSlam 2013 with CM Punk. Styles is such an amazing performer. He brings out the best in anybody and always puts on the best matches any time he’s in a big match on a PPV. They had a lot of cool moments throughout the match with the crowd getting louder the entire show. There were so many parts of the match that I loved. Lesnar was dominant for the first seven minutes or so. When Styles finally got control, it was when Lesnar hurt the knee and Styles worked on it relentlessly. When Styles did the Calf Crusher, the fans went wild for it because it looked like it might end it. Lesnar fought out of that. Lesnar also had some great kickouts. It would have been nice if Styles kicked out of the F5 at the end, but I don’t mind that it ended the match with one F5 because it puts it over as a deadly move. Lesnar selling that knee on the F5 is also awesome to see because it shows how the story of the match affected the finish with Lesnar looking like he was in pain. Fantastic match. Styles kills it on another PPV and Lesnar reminds us of how great he can be.

(I have said for many years that I think Lesnar is at his best against the smaller, athletic opponents like Styles and Daniel Bryan. Kurt Angle was also a great opponent for Lesnar, but he was bigger than Styles and Bryan. Still, Angle was a similar kind of elite all-around wrestler. The key thing is Lesnar’s selling. If Brock doesn’t want to sell for a guy and if he refuses to go away from the “suplex city” routine then it’s going to be a boring match. Thankfully in this case, it was Lesnar at his best and he sold so well for Styles throughout the match. Most people assumed Lesnar was going to win as they should have thought going into it, but there was a lot of believability in Styles working over Lesnar’s left knee throughout the match and there are a few moments where some fans might have thought that Styles had a shot. This match was also a smart move by WWE considering it was originally going to be Lesnar vs. Jinder Mahal until Styles beat Mahal for the WWE Title a few weeks before this.)

 

3. Diesel vs. Bret Hart for the WWF Championship in a No Disqualification Match @ Survivor Series 1995

Pre-match notes: Both guys are faces going into the match. There are no disqualifications and no countouts.

The match started with Diesel taking off one turnbuckle pad and Hart taking off another turnbuckle pad. Diesel pounded on him early on. Hart left the ring to take a break, so Diesel followed him with a double axe to the back. Diesel dropped Hart throat first across the guard rail. They went back in the ring with Diesel hitting Hart with forearms that knocked him out of the ring again. Diesel drove Hart back first into the ring post. Diesel grabbed a chair from ringside and hit Hart in the back with it as Vince noted that Hart did that to Diesel back at the 1995 Royal Rumble. Diesel with a hard whip into the corner followed by a hard clothesline. Hart avoided a Powerbomb attempt and bit the head of Diesel. Eye gouge by Hart. Hart kicked away at the left leg of Diesel to try to chop down the 7 footer. Hart stomped away on the leg some more. Hart applied the Figure Four Leglock in the center in the ring. Diesel was able to use his big frame to crawl over to the ropes. When Hart tried another leg submission, Diesel hit him in the eyes to stop it. Diesel kicked Hart away with Hart bumping back first into the exposed turnbuckle. Hart bounced back by tripping up Diesel and ramming the left leg of Diesel into the ring post multiple times.

Hart tied some cable to the ring post and then used the other end to tie up the foot of Diesel. A boot to the face by Diesel earned a “WHAT A MANEUVER~!” from Vince. The left foot of Diesel was still tied to the post, so Hart hit an elbow smash off the middle ropes. Hart brought the steel chair into the ring. Diesel kicked him away to block the chair shot. Hart grabbed the chair again, hit Diesel in the back with the chair as well as shots to the knee with the chair with Perfect saying he’s never seen Hart so vicious. Backbreaker by Hart. When Hart went for an attack with the chair, Diesel blocked it on the top rope and slammed him down. Diesel took the cord off and he was free. Sidewalk slam by Diesel gets a two count. Diesel with a hard whip into the exposed turnbuckle that Hart took sternum first, which was his famous bump. The announcers noted Hart had been in all nine Survivor Series events and it was his 41st PPV match. Diesel was limping and jumped on the back of Hart. Diesel with the snake eyes onto Hart on the top turnbuckle although it was not an exposed turnbuckle. Diesel picked him up, Hart slipped out of a slam attempt and sent Diesel face first into the exposed turnbuckle right on the steel. Running clothesline by Hart earned a two count. Hart was on the middle rope, Diesel was staggered and Hart nailed a bulldog for a two count. Russian legsweep by Hart gets a two count. Clothesline by Hart sent Diesel over the top to the floor. Hart went for a slingshot dive over the top, but Diesel moved and Hart had a hard landing on the floor. That was a nasty landing. Hart stumbled onto the ring apron. Diesel charged in, shoved him off and Hart bumped off the apron and went crashing through the announce table. It was the Spanish announce table. Hart was down in a heap.

Analysis: That was one of the biggest bumps in WWE history at the time. People did not go through tables that often, so when that happened it was a huge thing. I remember being shocked by it and thinking how cool it was at the same time.

Diesel rolled Hart back in the ring. Diesel was still limping as he sold the left leg injury. He slowly made his way back into the ring. Diesel set up Hart for the Jackknife Powerbomb, but Hart collapsed to the mat. JR suggested that Diesel just pin him. Diesel went to pick him up again, but when he did that, Hart locked him up with a small package for the one…two…and three! Hart wins at the 24:54 mark. JR: “He did it! He did it! He did it!”

Winner by pinfall and New WWE World Champion: Bret Hart

Analysis: ****1/2 Awesome match. That’s four and a half stars out of five. It’s one of the best WWE Title matches ever. The easiest story in wrestling is the big man vs. the little man. In this case, you had two guys that were both faces with the bigger man (Diesel) working a heelish style at times to get the crowd behind Hart more. I liked the creativity in the match with the use of the chair and Hart tying Diesel to the post at one point as well. They busted their asses for 25 minutes, wrestled a very physical style and had a number of different points in the match where it looked like it could end at any time for either guy. The finish was brilliant because it was an example of how smart was as a technician in the ring. He took a beating the entire match, but he was smart enough to play possum to pin him with an inside cradle. This match was the perfect playbook on how you tell the best wrestling story when it’s a big man versus a smaller guy. Great job by both of them. This match holds up very well over 20 years later.

After the match was over, Diesel sat up and was swearing. Diesel shoved down referee Earl Hebner. He picked up Hart and dropped him with a stiff Jackknife Powerbomb. The crowd booed. Three refs ran in the ring and Diesel punched all of them. Diesel hit Hart with another Jackknife Powerbomb. Vince pointed out that Diesel had the chance to do it earlier, but he didn’t do it. Hebner got back to his feet with the title, Diesel grabbed it and threw it on Hart. Diesel stood in the ring shouting: “I’m back! I’m back!” He’s referring to the heel turn.

Analysis: That was an excellent heel turn by Diesel. He was pissed off that he lost the WWE World Title that he held for nearly one year. He lost because he eased up when he had the match won. It made perfect sense. It also turned him heel after being a top face for one year.

Bret Hart vs. Diesel - WWE Championship Match: Survivor Series 1995

(This is one of my favorite Survivor Series matches ever mainly because it was in the mid-1990s during a bit of a rough period for the WWF, but it came at a time when I was really starting to appreciate the great workers like Bret Hart. I’ll always remember the table bump being a big deal along with Bret winning shortly after that by playing possum and getting an inside cradle to win. It was a shocking finish that was a brilliant ending to the match. Bret’s going to get more credit as the better worker, but Diesel/Nash was very motivated here and did an excellent job as well. I like this match a lot.) 

 

2. Elimination Chamber Match for the World Heavyweight Championship: Triple H (w/Ric Flair) vs. Chris Jericho vs. Booker T vs. Kane vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Rob Van Dam @ Survivor Series 2002

Pre-match notes: Triple H was the heel World Champion with Jericho as the other heel in the match. Michaels was the biggest face followed by RVD, Kane and Booker.

RVD started with Triple H with a spinning heel kick early on. Knee smash by Hunter. Van Dam with a back body drop over the ropes that sent Triple H onto the steel outside the ring. RVD whipped Hunter face first into the steel wall of the chamber. Hunter was bleeding already. It took him about two minutes to blade. Van Dam hit Rolling Thunder from the ring over the top onto Hunter on the steel grating outside the ring. Van Dam tried to climb the pod above Jericho, but Jericho grabbed his leg to stop him. Van Dam jumped off the top rope onto Hunter on the steel grate. Nasty fall for RVD doing that move. Hunter staggered back in the ring with RVD right on him. The five minute interval was up for the next man in the match.

The #3 entrant was Jericho, who walked right into a spin kick by RVD. Standing moonsault by RVD gets two on Jericho. RVD jumped off the top with a standing sidekick and a clothesline sent Jericho over the top. RVD jumped at Jericho, who moved and RVD hung onto the side of the chamber as if he was Spiderman. RVD jumped back onto Jericho to take him down. Hunter hit a clothesline on RVD to knock him down. Back suplex by Jericho on RVD. The heels worked together on RVD for a few minutes. They whipped RVD back first into the steel chamber several times. RVD tried a comeback, but Hunter dropped him with a DDT.

The #4 man was Booker T. He had punches and kicks for Hunter and Jericho as he knocked them out of the ring. Spinarooni time by Booker. Spin kick by Booker on RVD gets two. RVD game back with a step over heel kick for a two count on Booker. Jumping side kick by Booker on RVD gets two. Hunter got back and was dropped with an axe kick by Booker. RVD dropkick on Jericho. Van Dam went up top, but then he saw an empty pod. He jumped to the top of the pod. Van Dam jumped off the top and it was an awkward landing with his knee crushing the throat of Triple H.

Analysis: That was a nasty looking move. He wasn’t able to extend his legs out like he normally would on a Frog Splash or just a regular splash because of the chamber above his head. As a result of that, his knee hit the throat of Triple H, who suffered a crushed larynx, yet was able to work another 20 minutes in this match. The good thing is Triple H didn’t miss much in-ring time.

Rob Van Dam connects with a Five Star Frog Splash: Survivor Series 2002

Triple H was down in the ring grabbing his throat and kicking his feet into the mat. Referee Earl Hebner held up the “X” sign for an injury. Booker hit a missile dropkick on RVD and pinned him to eliminate him as JR wondered if RVD had a knee injury.

Rob Van Dam eliminated by Booker T

Jericho with a bulldog on Booker, he missed a Lionsault and Booker nailed a huge spinebuster on Jericho for a two count. Triple H was trying to get his wind back after his throat injury.

Kane was the #5 entrant in the match. He had clotheslines and punches for Jericho and Booker. Kane worked on Jericho on the grate outside the ring as he sent Jericho face first into the cage. Kane whipped Jericho through the plexiglass that was used as a cover in a chamber. That’s a huge bump. It sounded nasty.

Booker was in the ring working against Kane. He bounced off the ropes, Jericho hit a low blow and Kane hit a Chokeslam on Booker. Jericho hit a Lionsault on Booker to eliminate him.

Booker T eliminated by Chris Jericho

Kane tossed Jericho out of the ring. Jericho was bleeding from the forehead. He didn’t do too many blade jobs, but in order to put over the severity of this match it made sense for him to do it. They were outside the ring and then Kane slammed Jericho into the ring. A Kane punch knocked down Triple H. Suplex by Kane on Jericho gets two. Triple H climbed the top rope for some reason, so Kane slammed him off the top as if he was Ric Flair. Jericho with a missile dropkick on Kane as fans chanted for HBK.

Shawn Michaels entered as the #6 and last entrant in this match. Michaels was on fire as he nailed a flying forearm smash to knock Kane down. Kane whipped Michaels into the corner as HBK did an upside down bump. Kane double choke into a slam on Jericho. Kane with a Chokeslam on Michaels and a Chokeslam on Triple H. Kane hit a Chokeslam on Jericho as well, so that’s three in a row. Triple H avoided a Tombstone from Kane, shoved Kane and Michaels hit a superkick. Triple H hit a Pedigree and Jericho hit a Lionsault to eliminate Kane.

Kane eliminated by Chris Jericho

Analysis: Kane hit three Chokeslams in a row and it took three straight finishers to eliminate him.

Jericho sent Michaels over the top rope with a clothesline and whipped him into the cage a few times. The heels worked over Michaels a bit with Jericho hitting a running splash to the back of Michaels. The heels kept working over Michaels by sending him into the cage and punching him repeatedly. Michaels was busted open. Michaels came back with a clothesline on Triple H that sent him over the top back into the ring. Jericho with a back body drop that sent Michaels back first onto the steel. Back in the ring, Michaels hit a flying forearm smash on Hunter and did a kip up to a big pop. Jericho with a bulldog on Michaels followed by a Lionsault for a two count. Nice nearfall there. Michaels got his foot up to prevent a corner attack and he hit a moonsault off the top leading to a two count on Jericho. Michaels with a Boston Crab on Jericho, but Hunter showed up with a DDT on Michaels leading to a two count as Hunter pulled Jericho off. Jericho and Hunter started brawling with Hunter nailing a clothesline and a facebuster for two. Hunter set up Jericho for a Pedigree, but Jericho fought out of it and applied the Walls of Jericho submission. Michaels back to his feet and he nailed Jericho with the Sweet Chin Music superkick to eliminate Jericho.

Chris Jericho eliminated by Shawn Michaels

Analysis: The story of that elimination was Jericho and Hunter worked great as heels against Michaels, but ego got in the way and Michaels took advantage of it to get rid of Jericho.

It’s down to Michaels vs. Triple H as most people expected. Spinebuster for Triple H followed by a back body drop over the top rope that sent Michaels crashing onto the steel outside the ring. Triple H gave Michaels a slingshot into one of the plexiglass pods that shattered. On the replay of the spot, you could see Shawn used his hands to really crash into the pod. Both guys were a bloody mess. Back in the ring, Hunter got a two count. Hunter nailed a facebuster followed by a clothesline that sent Michaels over the top to the floor. Michaels hit a slingshot that sent Triple H into the cage and a clothesline sent Hunter back into the ring. Michaels climbed to the top rope, then went up more and stood on top of a pod. He jumped off the top with a Flying Elbow drop to the chest of Hunter. Michaels set up for Sweet Chin Music. Hebner kept walking over to him to give him some cue. Hunter caught the boot and he hit a Pedigree. The crowd was booing a lot. Hunter was too tired to cover. He slowly crawled over with a one arm cover for the one…two…and Michaels got his shoulder up. Michaels with a back body drop out of a Pedigree. Michaels back into the corner, Hunter up and Michaels hit the Sweet Chin Music superkick for the one…two…and three. Wow! What an ovation! MSG was going crazy. The match is over at the 39:20 mark.

Winner by pinfall and new World Heavyweight Champion: Shawn Michaels

Analysis: ****1/2 Great match. It was a violent, physical match with some huge spots and a legit injury that Triple H fought through. The story of Michaels coming back to win the World Title in his second match back in over four years is awesome. Plus, doing it in MSG in the first Elimination Chamber match made it seem that much more special. It was no surprise that the four other guys were eliminated in order to leave it to Shawn and Hunter at the end. Triple H showed a lot of toughness by working with a crushed larynx for over twenty minutes. There were several times in the match where you could tell he had trouble catching his breath, yet he kept on going. Three guys bled in the match, which is something we will never see again in a match in WWE today.

The arena was full of confetti as Michaels celebrated with the World Heavyweight Title. Replays aired of the finish. Michaels posed with the World Title more as JR freaked out about Michaels making the big comeback to win the World Heavyweight Championship. The show went off the air that way.

Analysis: I’m glad it was treated as a big celebration. Shawn deserved it. He lost the title one month later to Triple H, but it doesn’t tarnish how cool this moment was.

(This match is pretty legendary because it’s the first Elimination Chamber match in WWE history, it took place at Madison Square Garden and it was the second match that Shawn Michaels wrestled following his SummerSlam 2002 comeback. It’s also a match that is famous because of Triple H suffering a serious injury to his throat when RVD accidentally kneed him in the throat and Hunter had to go to the hospital after the match. That situation could have been a lot of worse than it was especially considering that Hunter had to keep on wrestling after the initial shot to the throat. I remember marking out huge when Michaels won. While I certainly thought it was possible going into the match, I kept thinking that it might not happen and I would have been angry about that, but that’s why I thought it was a possibility because it would get a lot of heat on Triple H if he got the win. In the end, a Michaels superkick got the job done as he celebrated in those awkward looking brown tights because he wasn’t able to get his ring gear in time. Strange story, but it’s true. Anyway, I’ll always have a lot of fun watching this match.)

 

1. Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin @ Survivor Series 1996

Pre-match notes: Austin was the heel and Hart was the face. The winner of this match gets a WWE Title shot at the December PPV.

Austin flashed the middle fingers at Hart right away. JR noted that neither man had submitted in their career and he thought a submission might end the match. Hart with a hammerlock as the crowd chanted for Bret. Austin came back with a drop toe hold, but Hart got out of it and applied the hammerlock again. Hart with a legdrop to the arm followed by another armbar. Austin grabbed Hart and hit the stun gun that he used to use as a finisher in WCW. Austin drove Hart throat first into the bottom rope. Chinlock by Austin to slow down Hart. They got back to their feet and had a slugfest with each guy throwing a lot of punches, which was won by Austin as he knocked Hart down in the corner. Hart came back with a clothesline, atomic drop and another clothesline. Rollup by Hart gets two. Side Russian legsweep by Hart gets two. Austin countered a bulldog by shoving him into the turnbuckle and Hart took the bump sternum first. That’s his great bump that he did in every match. Hart countered a superplex attempt by slamming Austin face first. Hart nailed a diving elbow smash off the top rope for a two count.

Austin raked the eyes to counter a backbreaker with Vince saying Austin was very clever. Austin dumped Hart out of the ring. Austin drove Hart back first into the ring post. Hart tackled Austin out of the ring and sent him over the guard rail. Hart rammed Austin face first into the guard rail with the guard cheering the aggressiveness. Austin was back in the ring, rolled out the other side and Hart attacked him out there. Austin tripped him up and hit a slingshot move onto the Spanish announce table. It didn’t break the table, but it was a unique spot. Austin went after Hart again with more punches. JR: “It seems like it always happens to the Spanish guys!” I wonder why haha. Austin slammed Hart onto the announce table. Austin with an elbow smash as Hart was on the table. None of those moves were designed to break the table, but the aggressiveness was really good. Austin hit a suplex that brought Hart back into the ring. Fans were chanting “Let’s Go Hitman” as Austin whipped him hard into the corner. Austin nailed a running attack to the back of Hart while Hart was up against the ropes. Abdominal stretch by Austin included him grabbing the ropes for leverage as the heel in the match, ref Tim White told him to break it up, Austin shoved him and gave him the middle fingers.

They exchanged punches as the crowd went wild for it. Hart won that slugfest by knocking Austin down. Hart with the stun gun just like Austin did earlier in the match. Rollup by Hart got two. Piledriver by Hart perfectly executed gets two. Of course, in less than a year after this it was a Tombstone piledriver by Bret’s brother Owen that nearly paralyzed Austin. Backbreaker by Hart. Austin came back as they battled on the top rope and Austin nailed a superplex. Bret hooked his legs for a two count with Vince busting out “WHAT A MANEUVER~!” two times. Both guys struggled to their feet and Austin hit the Stone Cold Stunner. He pulled Hart away from the ropes and Hart got his shoulder up. JR said he thought Austin made a mistake pulling Hart from the ropes because it gave him time. Austin went for repeated pinfalls. Austin applied the Texas Cloverleaf submission. Hart got to the ropes. Austin whipped Hart across to the ring with Hart taking the bump by rolling rib first into the ring post. What a great bump as JR explained it that Hart’s knee gave way. Austin with a bow and arrow submission to work on the back. Hart went for the Sharpshooter, the crowd went wild and Austin got to the ropes before Hart could apply the move. Hart with a sleeper, but Austin broke out of it with a jawbreaker. Austin applied the Million Dollar Dream sleeper. Hart walked him towards the turnbuckle, kicked the top turnbuckle and landed back onto Austin. The ref counted one…two…three. Hart wins because Austin held onto the Million Dollar Dream and that led to his shoulders being pinned to the mat. As soon as the ref’s hand hit the mat the third time, Austin kicked out, but it was too late. Hart won the match at the 28:36 mark.

Winner by pinfall: Bret Hart

The crowd was happy about the win from Hart. JR did a great job in pointing out that Austin lost because he wouldn’t let go of the hold. Both guys were selling fatigue after the match. Austin walked out of the ring looking frustrated with his hands on his head. Hart celebrated the win. The announcers talked about how there was no way this was the end of the rivalry. There were replays of the finish showing Hart’s technique in countering the Million Dollar Dream to win. Bret shook hands with people at ringside including Vince, who said congratulations to him.

Analysis: ***** Wow! What an awesome match! Five stars out of five. It’s not a rating I give very often, but this was a special match that was so entertaining from start to finish. I like how each guy kept going for pinfalls throughout the match and coming close so many times. This was the biggest match of Austin’s life at the time with a lot of pressure on him to perform at a high level. He delivered the best match of his career at the time. What made the match worked so well was the aggressiveness shown by both men. It felt like a real fight, which is when pro wrestling is at its best. One of the big spots was when Austin hit the Stunner and Hart kicked out. Guys weren’t kicking out of finishers that much in this era, so that was significant. The finish was really well done because Austin went for multiple submission moves in the match. It was the story of Austin trying to end the match in different ways, but he was unable to do so. Then he lost because he held onto the Million Dollar Dream for too long. If he let go of the hold then he would have been able to kick out. It’s a finish that Hart did with Roddy Piper to beat him at WrestleMania 8 in 1992 as well. I think their WrestleMania 13 match was even better than this and also a match I rated at five stars. There aren’t many feuds in wrestling history that have multiple five star matches, but these guys did it. This is one of the best feuds in wrestling history although they never finished it with Austin winning the rivalry in the end. That’s because of what happened at Survivor Series one year after this.

(This isn’t the best match or the most famous match in the epic rivalry between Bret “Hitman” Hart and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, but believe me when I tell you that this is truly one of the best matches in WWE history and in my opinion, THE BEST match in Survivor Series history. There are times when a long match drags on too long and I might critique it saying they should have shaved off ten minutes, but I think in this case they were smart to go right around 30 minutes because it showed that Austin could hang in there with Bret. It told the audience that this Austin guy that was coming up as a huge star was on the level of the former WWF Champion Bret Hart and that’s key because that’s how you create a new star like Austin. If Bret won this match in 12 minutes and Austin didn’t put up much of a fight, who knows what would have happened to Austin’s career. However, since Bret gave Austin a lot of offense and they had the epic match that they did, it meant so much for Austin’s career. Yes, the WrestleMania 13 match is better and to me that’s arguably the best match in WWE history. This is a five star match too, though. They both are. I would rank the WM13 on the high end of five star matches, but that doesn’t mean this match is significantly worse. They are both outstanding. Part of the reason why I would say Hart vs. Austin might be the best rivalry in WWE history is because they had two five star matches five months apart. That’s pretty special.) 

Bret Hart vs Stone Cold Survivor '96 PT1

Bret Hart vs Stone Cold Survivor '96 PT2

 

Final Thoughts

I hope you enjoyed this look back at the ten best Survivor Series matches in WWE history. Who is Mr. Survivor Series? That’s tough to say because Bret Hart has three matches in the top ten while Shawn Michaels has four, but you can make the case for Bret because he’s got best match along with third place. You could say Shawn Michaels in the best since he’s got the most matches in the top ten. I think if you look at their Survivor Series resume in total including elimination matches, Shawn probably has more great matches, but his career also lasted longer, so that’s part of it too. Anyway, it’s an interesting thing to ponder at least.

Once again, if you want to check out my thoughts on any WWE Survivor Series event, check out the listing of Survivor Series reviews that I posted here.

Thanks for reading.