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10 Things I Learned About Hulk Hogan on the Chris Jericho Podcast

January 20, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Hulk Hogan has never sat down for a so-called shoot interview outside of a WWE production. Yet Chris Jericho pulled off the scoop and delivered the closest thing we will probably ever get with the biggest star in pro wrestling history.

It isn’t often that Hulk Hogan sits down for a no holds barred interview about his pro wrestling career. But when he does you know it’s going to be newsworthy. Hogan was a recent guest on a two-part Chris Jericho podcast, offering one of the most fascinating interviews he has ever done. Hogan opened up on his legendary pro wrestling career telling many stories, some you have heard and some you may not have, yet all were interesting.

Now the caveat with a Hogan interview is that he is often a whipping boy for giving worked answers. I tend to take a different opinion than some of those critics. I think that Hogan is giving what he thinks is the real answer. However, I think after 30 years of bumps that he makes honest mistakes with names and time periods and has probably worked himself so much over the years with these stories that he himself truly believes everything that he is saying.

I have read all of Hogan’s books and probably heard every interview he has ever done. Yet there were stories told on this podcast that I had never heard before. Granted after 42 years I may have heard or read these and simply forgotten them, but to me they were all new. I learned a lot about the career of Hulk Hogan and here are just ten takeaways from the podcast.

Hulk Hogan was worried about being double-crossed by Tatsumi Fujinami in Japan – Now Hogan has told this story before, but he elaborated a lot more on this interview. Hogan told Jericho that he had given notice to New Japan because they couldn’t work out a new deal with Vince McMahon Jr. Knowing that it was his last match with the company, Hogan said he feared that Fujinami would hook him and steal the WWF title. Hogan claims that he recruited Danny Hodge to be the referee and asked Hodge to watch his back. He also says he got a lot of respect from Andre the Giant from how he handled this.

Now many have claimed that this story is a completely untrue. I went back and looked at old Hogan results to see if there even was such a match and guess what, there was. Hogan wrestled Fujinami on June 11, 1985 as WWF champion. One resource actually does list Danny Hodge as the guest referee for this match. Unfortunately the match was on YouTube at one point but was pulled. I know many, including Dave Meltzer called this a fabrication but I am inclined to give Hulk a little bit of the benefit of the doubt here. I wasn’t a believer either until I went back and found that a) indeed this was one of his final matches before leaving NJPW indefinitely and b) a resource stating that Hodge was indeed the referee here.

Hulk Hogan wanted to turn heel in the WWF – Hulk told Jericho that he wanted to turn heel the next Monday on RAW after he lost the title to Ultimate Warrior in 1986.

Now this one I call shenanigans on. For starters, there was no Monday Night RAW in 1986. Two, the plans were in place for Hogan to wrestle another babyface vs. babyface match against Warrior at next year’s WrestleMania. I just don’t buy into this one at all.

Hulk Hogan had other reasons for not wanting to turn heel and join the n.W.o. – Hogan told Jericho that Eric Bischoff had to do a long sell job on him to turn heel and join the n.W.o. Hogan said the reason for this is that he had been wanting to do the Hollywood gimmick for a while and turn heel, but he wanted to be by himself and not with a group.

It isn’t news that Hogan had to be convinced to join the n.W.o. That is an old story. But the story has always been that Hulk didn’t want to turn heel and Bischoff had to convince him that the time was right. Nobody has ever reported that the reason he didn’t want to do the angle was because he wanted to do a solo heel run.

Diamond Dallas Page complained about Hulk Hogan grabbing the ropes on a Diamond Cutter – Hogan said that he wanted to do dastardly things as a heel and one of them was grab the ropes when DDP went for the Diamond Cutter. He said that DDP got so upset that he went to Bischoff and complained about the spot.

I can honestly say that I 100% believe that one.

Hulk Hogan wanted to drop the belt to Roddy Piper numerous times in 1984/5 but didn’t trust him – Hogan said that he wanted to drop the belt to Piper many times “like he did with Savage” but Piper worked himself into believing he was a real tough guy and wouldn’t do jobs. Hogan said that if Piper wasn’t going to do a job, he couldn’t trust that Piper would drop it back to him. He thinks that he and Piper would have made millions if they did several WWF title switches in the 80s and ribs Roddy about it almost every day over text.

All I can say is this. Piper was red hot and I believe like Hogan that a win over Hogan with Hogan going for revenge would have been absolutely huge. It is no secret that Piper wouldn’t put over Hogan so maybe he is right. That said, Hogan never dropped the WWF title to Randy Savage even once so saying that he dropped it to Randy several times was wrong.

Hulk Hogan fought Verne Gagne in the locker room – To me, his stories about Verne and working for him in the AWA were the most fascinating of the entire interview. For starters, he said that Verne started making Hogan t-shirts but wouldn’t cut Hogan in on the money. They had words and Verne said he wanted to see what they taught him down in Florida and Hogan said, “Enough to kick your ass.” Verne charged him and Hogan grabbed him in a front face lock “Belzer-style”. Verne left the room and said it wasn’t over and Greg started to take his stuff off like he was going to fight him but David Schultz backed Hulk up.

I have no reason not to believe this one. Everything I have heard about Verne is that he was pretty crazy and always challenging guys to fights.

Hulk Hogan was booked to win the AWA title but it came with a price – Hogan was booked to wrestle Nick Bockwinkel in their legendary Super Sunday match. Hogan was sitting at a table when Verne casually said that he was getting the belt that night. Hogan said “Cool” but Verne told him that as AWA champion he’d get 50% of his Japan bookings. Hogan told him no. Verne was so irate that he had Bockwinkel shoot on him in the match. Hogan fought back and knocked Nick so silly that he forgot how to put on the sleeper hold at the end of the match.

It sounds fairly true because I remember the match and feud at the time and everything was set up for Hogan to win the title. Not only that, the match is widely available on YouTube. I went back and skimmed through the match and indeed Nick does have a hard time putting the sleeper hold on Hulk.

Hulk Hogan paid some heavy dues on his way to the top – Hogan tells the story we all know by now of Hiro Matsuda breaking his leg, but he elaborates. He said when his leg healed he came back for more training. Matsuda and others stretched Hogan for almost a year after that. Hogan finally was called to go to the shows and worked out with Eddie Graham. Graham taught Hogan how to actually work and it clicked that Hogan had been worked for almost a year by Matsuda and the other guys. Hogan said he started to cry when he realized this. Hogan said he’d also drive with the veterans would abuse his car and told stories about the Samoans trying to kick out his windows. He said he quit the business a few times before he finally got a call to go to New York.

Times were much different back then and I believe they had “fun” with Hogan in Florida. The story certainly humanizes the Hulkster and probably explains a lot of his paranoia over the years and insistence on creative control.

Hulk Hogan got major heat from Vince McMahon Sr. for showing up on his first night with a tie-dyed shirt – Hulk says that with his long hair and the shirt that all of the fans thought it was Superstar Graham returning to the territory. Hogan says the fans freaked out because they thought it was Superstar and Vince told him never to wear tie-dye again.

Hulk Hogan signed with Vince McMahon after he caught Greg and Verne meeting with Vince – Hulk told Jericho that he had gotten word that Vince McMahon Jr. wanted to talk to him. Hulk was surprised because Vince Sr. told Hulk he would never be allowed back in the company. Hulk sat on the message until he was in a booking meeting at Verne Gagne’s house with Verne, Greg, and Bockwinkel. He said that Verne and Greg suddenly said they were leaving and Hulk followed them to the airport. Hulk said when he got to the airport he snuck around and saw them meeting with Vince. After that Hulk got in touch with Vince, Vince flew out to Hogan’s house, and they made a deal.

I don’t know if I completely buy the story. Here is the thing. Hogan was a huge star in the AWA at the time. At his size I can’t imagine him being able to sneak around an airport in Minnesota to spy on the Gagnes. Someone would have recognized him and his cover would have been easily blown. Who knows?

BONUS: Kurt Angle worked stiff with Hulk Hogan during his 2002 WWE run – Hogan told Jericho that Kurt worked really tight with him and gave him a few shots during their matches. He said when he confronted Kurt on it in TNA he said that Kurt told him Vince McMahon told him to do it.

I certainly wouldn’t put it past Vince.

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Top 10 WWE Greatest Feuds In History

January 07, 2015 By: Category: lists, Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

There is nothing more memorable in professional wrestling than a great rivalry. The WWE has produced some of the all-time best over the last several decades and I thought it would be fun to look back and countdown the ten best WWE feuds of all-time.

Wrestling fans will probably go through their lives watching a lot of wrestling. Yet it will be the memorable angle and great feud that resonates with them for generations. Those dramatic moments and intense matches will live on and be passed down through legend to future generations. Over the course of my lifetime, the WWE has produced some of the all-time best.

Keep in mind that I am not ranking this as a greatest feuds blog, I am specifically looking at feuds that happened within a WWE ring. While I grew up with classic feuds from territories all over the United States, only those within the WWE were readily available to be reviewed for this blog. Fortunately you can catch most of these great matches and/or moments on the Network or YouTube so even if you weren’t watching them live, you can still appreciate the chaos.

In no particular order here is the breakdown of what are in my opinion, the 10 greatest feuds in WWE history.

Steve Austin vs. Vince McMahon - Let’s start with an easy one. Austin vs. McMahon is arguably the greatest feud in WWE history. If the criteria for this list was simply revenue, Austin vs. McMahon would probably top the list. Unfortunately the WWE has gone to the well so many times in recent years with heel authority figures that I don’t think we will ever see anything like this again. The timing was just right in 1997 with Vince coming off of the Montreal Screw Job, competition from WCW, the popularity of the n.W.o. bringing pro wrestling back into the mainstream, and the emergence of this biggest anti-authority hero you will ever see in a wrestling ring.

Hulk Hogan vs. Roddy Piper - Next to Austin vs. McMahon I may call this the greatest feud in WWE history. It was certainly the biggest of my lifetime as a fan up until Austin vs. McMahon. The legacy of this feud cannot be understated. These two guys were pivotal in taking pro wrestling and breaking it out into the mainstream in 1984 and 1985. Sure Hogan was a great babyface but there was no other villain in the company that could transcend popular culture like Piper. The timing was absolutely perfect for these two to take the country by storm and they did. The same can’t be said for their rivalry years later in WCW and again in the WWE unfortunately.

Bruno Sammartino vs. Larry Zbysko - This one was a bit ahead of my time but the legend of this rivalry has sustained several generations of pro wrestling fans. I can’t begin to explain why this one became so much bigger than others for Bruno because Bruno had plenty of allies turn on him throughout his WWE career. Yet for whatever reason, Zbysko’s defiance hit home with the fans. Zbysko breaking the chair over Bruno’s head has become iconic in its own right. The heat for their matches was ridiculous and while Hogan may take credit for it in his book, it was this match that drew a monster house to Shea Stadium in an era before pay-per-view.

CM Punk vs. John Cena - It’s funny because the best angle this feud had is arguably the least memorable, which was the night Punk got up from the commentary booth and turned on Cena. Their 2011 summer series remains the biggest feud/angle of modern day era of WWE. Punk’s pipe-bomb promo was believable and fans ate up the idea of Punk leaving the WWE as world champion. Their Money in the Bank match was rated five stars by Dave Meltzer which is incredibly high praise. Whether it has the sustainability of the others on this list remains to be seen, but on this date it was one of the all-time best.

Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Savage - The WrestleMania V rivalry remains an iconic feud from the 1980s era of pro wrestling. Fans today still talk about the great match and classic angle which saw Savage turn on Hogan on prime time television. The year-long build is patience that could pay off today if the WWE had a different mindset as opposed to the hot-shot angle and match. Hogan gets a lot of criticism for his work rate but all you need to do is check out their WrestleMania V match and others in the 80s to see Hogan and Savage for that matter at his best.

Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels - This is a feud that probably doesn’t get as much due as it should. The angles and series of matches throughout this lengthy rivalry remain some of the best from the last decade of WWE wrestling. Their Ladder Match in particular still sticks out as an all-time favorite. Between Jericho punching Michaels’ wife and almost blinding the Heartbreak Kid you won’t find many better heels in the last decade than Jericho was during this historic period.

Steve Austin vs. Bret Hart - Austin vs. Hart remains one of the greatest rivalries which produced arguably the greatest WrestleMania match in history (my favorite anyway). What made this one so good? I think it goes back to the Survivor Series 1996 hype and Austin telling the world that no matter what happens in New York City, the feud will never end…and it didn’t. The feud was intense, believable, dramatic, and the two just had such great chemistry that it wouldn’t have worked with anyone else. Both guys had chips on their shoulders with Bret obsessing over Shawn Michaels and Austin obsessed with proving WCW wrong after he was released. The hunger and desire out of both guys is evident in everything they did which is why it was all so great.

The Rock vs. Steve Austin - How can you go wrong with three WrestleMania main-events? While you would riot today if you saw Randy Orton vs. John Cena three times at Mania, every match was bigger and better. The timing and worlds aligned for these two to make beautiful wrestling music together. Unfortunately I don’t think this one paid off nearly as much as it should have with Austin leaving after their final match at WrestleMania 19 and never following through on his revenge. Yet there are plenty of great angles leading up to 15 and 17 readily accessible on the Network that will make you a believer if you have any doubts about how fun and memorable this feud was in its heyday.

Mankind vs. The Undertaker - One of quite possibly the most underrated feuds in WWE history would be The Undertaker vs. Mankind. Sure, this one will always be remembered for Hell in a Cell but there was so much more. For over two years these two guys waged one of the most brutal and bloody wars ever seen in a WWE ring. Mankind debuted and immediately jumped into a feud with Taker. Mankind wasted no time targeting the Dead Man as he picked a fight with Taker on his first night in the company. The next two years saw dozens of vignettes and matches showcasing the brutality of this deadly rivalry. Pick any match on the Network between these two and I can guarantee you that it will be just as exciting now as it was almost 20 years ago.

Triple H vs. Batista - It still amazes me that someone who was involved in a legendary rivalry like Batista was crapped on by the new generation of fans so badly when he returned last year. I think the WWE could have helped him out quite a bit if they went back and showed old footage of his rivalry with Hunter. What made this so good is that it had been brewing for months. Batista would shoot these subtle looks at Hunter for months prior to their match that let the fans know that it was coming. This allowed the rivalry to simmer for months before it finally boiled over into one of the greatest segments in RAW history (right up there with their contract signing). Batista won three straight matches and yet the fans couldn’t get enough of this rivalry. Again, this is another case in patience paying off at the box office for the WWE.

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The Day The WWE Lost Its Way

January 02, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

On the April 11, 2011, the WWE changed forever. Edge announced his retirement from the ring, which was a sudden jolt of discourse within the company and could very well be the beginning of the demise of the company from which attitudes were created and kamikaze style wrestling with tables, ladders and chairs were perfected.

I am not blaming the ills of the WWE and the faltering of storylines and potential superstars on the retirement of one WWE superstar, but his sudden departure did not help matters when it came to the progression of the company.

Edge and Christian, billed as brothers and later childhood friends in WWF/WWE storylines, went on to win the WWF Tag Team Championship on seven different occasions. During this time, they gained notoriety in the tag team division, partly due to their participation in Tables, Ladders, and Chairs matches.

Edge won 31 championships in WWE overall, including 11 world championships (the WWE Championship four times and the World Heavyweight Championship a record seven times), five Intercontinental Championships, one United States Championship, and 14 Tag Team Championships (a record 12 World Tag Team Championships and two WWE Tag Team Championships).

He also had an unofficial co-champion reign with Mick Foley as WWE Hardcore Champion. He won the 2001 King of the Ring tournament, was the first Money in the Bank ladder match winner in 2005 and again in 2007 (also being the winner of a match to reclaim and cash in the contract, thus becoming the first to cash in and win both world titles), and won the Royal Rumble match in 2010, making him the only wrestler in history to achieve all three of those accomplishments.

He headlined many major pay-per-view events for WWE, including WrestleMania XXIV. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by his long-time friend and tag team partner Christian on March 31, 2012. Critics and fans alike have regarded Edge as one of the most decorated and greatest professional wrestlers in history. And in my mind, one of the most underrated champions of all time.

Edge’s style, his ability and his approval with the fans as both a face and a heel made him genuinely great for both the WWE and the business of wrestling. The fact he helped usher in more hardcore tag team wrestling to the company was only part of his pure genius. In an era of tables and chairs being used more and more as ever-match weaponry speaks to the greatness of the man who made the “spear” popular again.

He, along with Christian and Chris Jericho helped continue the success of Canadian wrestlers that the likes of Bret Hart created before these greats. It also proves that should he still be in the ring and not on SyFi each week, his penchant for tables, ladders and chairs may be more popular than it is today. For those reasons, he was ahead of his time and with Christian formed one of the best and most underrated tag teams of his tenure in the company.

What the WWE plans to do with Edge in the future remains to be seen. The neck injury that put him out of action is still a concern, but he would be great as a commentator or manager in some capacity (Tyson Kidd) where his mic skills and interviews would be a welcomed addition to programming.

The current crop of WWE superstars like Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler and Seth Rollins would benefit from his tutelage in and out of the ring as well and it would not be shocking if at some time Rollins becomes THAT wrestlers who is the innovator of offense this company is currently lacking.

While he is not able to wrestle, his contributions from the past could certainly build the future of the WWE, and for that his retirement, however abrupt, could be a true benefit.

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Dean Ambrose and Chris Jericho Share Vince McMahon Stories

December 24, 2014 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Vince McMahon is something of an enigma in that you can’t get the true Vince experience without working with the man. Chris Jericho and Dean Ambrose are two guys have worked closely with Vince and they’ve got some interesting stories to tell about the Genetic Jackhammer.

Dean Ambrose was a guest on Chris Jericho’s podcast Talk is Jericho recently. The two-part interview was one of the best Jericho has done in his 101 shows. I found one segment in particular incredibly fascinating and that was when they both shared some off the cuff stories about working with Vince McMahon.

Ambrose’s story was interesting on a couple of levels. One, it reflects how close to the Mr. McMahon character Vince really can be off-camera. Two and most interesting, it discussed that awful mannequin segment Ambrose did on RAW a few months back. In my opinion, this was one of the worst segments of the year and almost killed the Ambrose-Rollins feud immediately. Yet according to Ambrose, Vince loved it and if he had it his way, would have gotten in the ring and massacred the mannequin himself.

“I think sometimes Vince (McMahon” with me, he is living vicariously or acting out certain impulses. (Imitating Vince) I want you to say “You’re going to rip his face off! You take this mannequin and chop his hand off! Yeah, yeah. What else can you do to this mannequin? Rip his hair out!” He’s really into it. I find that there’s some stuff that I am asked to do that Vince is really into.

Jericho responded, “You’re talking about when you brought the mannequin to the ring that was supposed to be Seth Rollins and then you’re tearing it apart and this is Vince’s instructions to you?”

“Yeah, he loved it. He was into it,” responded Ambrose. I was in Vince’s office with this mannequin with this bag of tools laid out on the floor. Vince is just looking at the tools and then looking at the mannequin and describing what he might do to the mannequin. It was like nobody else was in the room. It was like he was in there alone with the mannequin. He was in his own little world. (Imitating Vince again) “This mannequin, what could you do to it? You take this, chop his hand off! You like that mannequin?” I asked Vince in this same conversation, “If I was going to say that I was going to cut his balls off what is the word I’d use for balls?” He said, “Testicles!” with no hesitation. Well testicles is the word we use in wrestling when someone kicks you in the nuts.

Jericho had his own stories about working with Vince. None of which paint him as a man sympathetic to women nor is anything off limits when it comes to his own family.

“I had Stephanie (McMahon) one time with Hunter and something was said along the lines, “Stephanie is my precious little flower” and I said, “Stephanie lost her flower a long time ago”. I said (asking Vince), “Can I say that?” Vince goes, “Yes but just make sure you pause after to let the crowd cheer and react.” So it’s like, yeah you can call my daughter a slut, just make sure you let the crowd pop before you continue. That’s him.

“I did a thing once where I was doing something with Chyna and he wanted me to smash her thumb with a hammer because she wore gloves all of the time. (Imitating Vince) We’ll take the glove out, we’ll put a sausage in there and you’ll smash it with a hammer.” I asked, “Is that legal? Am I going to get arrested?” He’s like, “Creative license!”

I’ll tell you what. The WWE Network needs subscribers, stick a camera in Vince’s office during creative meetings, call it the Vince Cam, put it on the network and I think you’ll have one of the greatest reality television shows possible. A guy can dream right?

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Ryback Responds to CM Punk

December 22, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

It’s been a tough few weeks for Ryback. CM Punk singled the WWE star out, publicly ripping Ryback for being dangerous in the ring among other things. Ryback has finally responded and according to the Big Guy, none of what Punk said was true.

These CM Punk interviews are the gifts that keep on giving to bloggers. Punk has dropped several pipe bombs as of late but no single individual absorbed as much shrapnel as Ryback. Punk went out of his way to rip Ryback apart during his now legendary interview on the Art of Wrestling where he accused Ryback of being so careless in the ring, that wrestling Ryback took 20 years off of his career.

“That took 20 years off my [expletive] life,” Punk says of having to work with Ryback, whom he basically calls unqualified to wrestle in the WWE ring. “There was one time he kicked me in the stomach as hard as he could and he broke my ribs, right at the tail end. I never got an apology for that. A real piece of work, that guy.”

Punk also went on to recount a confrontation he had with Ryback after Ryback dropped him on a table and according to Punk, carelessly injured him in the process.

“First night out, he’s supposed to gorilla press me through a table…f*cking misses the table. Dumps me on the fucking concrete ground. Tilts my f*cking pelvis. F*cks me up for weeks. I walk up to him and go, ‘You can’t tell me you didn’t do that on purpose because you’ve done it so many times now. You’re either dumb as f*ck and you suck or you did it on purpose.’ And he was like, ‘I’m dumb as fuck. I’m sorry.’”

I called bullsh*t on that story the second I heard it. I have no doubt that Punk got hurt because if you watch the spot, it isn’t pretty. What I have highly doubted is that the dialogue between Punk and Ryback went down as Punk described. Guess what? According to Ryback, it didn’t.

Ryback was a guest on Chris Jericho’s Talk is Jericho podcast recently and was asked about Punk’s comments. Ryback took the high road yet clearly the big man is upset about Punk’s recollection of their matches and confrontations. While Ryback takes full responsibility for the spot, he claims that the meeting between he and Punk after the match went much differently.

Ryback said that he felt horrible about the spot. He said that he came up to Punk after the match in the locker room to apologize. Punk told him, “I’m fine”. That was it according to Ryback. The confrontation that Punk claims went down is fiction according to Ryback. Ryback went on to sum the whole experience up.

“I went and heard part of it (the interview). Punk was always good to me when he was here and I felt I was good to him. He was never like that to my face and I felt we always had good matches for the most part on the live events. To leave and say the things he said, I try not to take anything personal anymore. So whatever he’s going through, if he feels the need to say that, I can tell you it’s not true. It’s one of those things, it’s like, come on man. I don’t understand if it’s a personal thing with me. I don’t know but I have no ill feeling towards the guy, I wish him the best.”

Ryback also went on to tell Jericho that if he was as careless as Punk claims he is, that he wouldn’t have a job. Jericho has worked with Ryback a number of times and defended the big man. Jericho agreed and said that if Ryback was that dangerous in the ring, he’d be gone. They both have valid points…see Ken Kennedy for more.

All of this has to make you wonder why Punk went out of his way to say what he said about Ryback and yet criticized nobody else. The dig about “steroid guy” also seems a bit tasteless as well. The only explanation I can think of is that Punk had so many concussions that he doesn’t remember half of what he thinks he remembers. The other explanation is that he is trying to come off as some kind of tough guy before jumping into the UFC.

I do know this. Ryback sounded very sincere and a lot more professional in his response than Punk. I’d highly recommend checking out the entire interview with Jericho, which paints a much different picture of Ryback than I had prior to listening. Check it out for free over at Talk is Jericho.

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Dean Amrbose Talks WWE Formula and Hell in a Cell Match

December 12, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

In between his stints as a rock star and WWE superstar, Chris Jericho has quickly become a great interviewer. Jericho’s recent podcast with Dean Ambrose is no better example as he got the current star to share some candid feelings on the current WWE style.

The Talk is Jericho two-part podcast with Ambrose may be Jericho’s best since he entered the venture. Jericho and Ambrose sat down for a no-holds barred discussion about Ambrose’s career and the WWE. One particular theme popped up throughout the interview and that was Ambrose’s personal taste and distaste for the current WWE product.

Now don’t misread this blog. I am not trying to start any trouble for Ambrose here. I don’t think he said anything that should land him in the proverbial dog house. I just found it refreshing to hear one of the bigger stars in the WWE come out and say what most of us have been thinking for a long time.

Ambrose was asked about his Hell in a Cell match with rival Seth Rollins. Ambrose touches on the subject here when he talks about how he and Rollins wanted to have something different than what most of us are used to seeing on WWE events.

I wanted it to not feel like a WWE match. If you watch John [Cena] vs. Randy [Orton] on that show, it felt like a good WWE main-event. Finisher, counter, kick out, the same stuff. They’ve kind of created and popularized what the WWE main-event style is, I guess. But I wanted it to feel different, I wanted it to feel a little bit dirtier, and grungier, especially because it’s Hell in a Cell, it’s supposed to be an ugly thing. I want it to be ugly at certain points, like, a little bit uncomfortable. Like people are getting hurt right now. People aren’t smiling, or doing trademark things. Two dudes are just trying to kill each other right now, this is just a little bit uncomfortable. I just wanted to have a stripped-down feel. That was my vision for it.

Another theme that popped up a couple of times throughout the podcast was the micromanagement of the product. In part 1, Ambrose reveals that he does not think any of his promos in the WWE have been that good. He says that he cringes sometimes when he is handed the material and wishes that he could just go out there with bullet points like he did on the indys. Ambrose expands more when he talks about the WWE “formula” with Jericho.

“I don’t think you should have a formula. That’s the thing, there’s a TV formula and a WWE formula, and there’s such a formula. I think the fans get conditioned to that formula, which probably makes it harder to shock them after a while, because they get the formula. I don’t know if any of my matches are any good, but I like people to think at any time that anything might happen, whether it makes any sense or not. I like to just throw something in that doesn’t make any sense on purpose, just because nobody sees it coming.

“If you watch enough wrestling and you’re watching a match, you can kind of tell what’s going to happen next almost all the time. You know the match isn’t going to end until Kofi [Kingston] has done his hand slap gimmick, or until John [Cena] does the Five Knuckle Shuffle. But in real fights, like in boxing or UFC, anything can happen at any time, a match could just end, a dude could grab his leg and break it.

Both parts are highly entertaining, especially one particular exchange in part one which I’ll cover in a future blog regarding the origins behind that hideous mannequin doll segment several months back on RAW. Check out both parts on Talk is Jericho.

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Top 25 WWE Ladder/TLC/Money in the Bank Matches In History

December 10, 2014 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

These Top-25 lists are picking up steam, so I’ll take the WWE approach of beating a good thing into the ground. With Money in the Bank coming up, it’s a good idea to look back at two decades-plus of WWE’s greatest ladder matches, and figure out what the best of the bunch truly are. There’s no bad matches to be found here; every entry is rewatchable time and time again. With TLC and Money in the Bank upping the ante of the classic ladder match, this list will cover a lot of ground, and no doubt provide a little argument fodder. Enjoy!

(Note: this list only includes matches which ended with the retrieval of a belt, briefcase, etc. As such, the TLC 2012 match with The Shield vs. Ryback and Team Hell No is excluded. Otherwise, it’d have likely been top ten).

25. Kane vs. Big Show vs. Matt Hardy vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Christian vs. Dolph Ziggler – Money in the Bank Ladder Match (Money in the Bank, July 18, 2010)

Firmly in the ‘let’s shoehorn gimmick matches into the secondary PPVs so that gimmick matches have less meaning’ era, Money in the Bank’s come away unscathed, thanks to the car-wreck spectacles that never get old. In this case, the maiden match of Money in the Bank’s spin-off event hit its mark, with a dose of big man psychology. Show and Kane were natural targets by the smaller competitors, while Show used a custom mecha-ladder for climbing.

24. Dolph Ziggler vs. John Cena – Money in the Bank Ladder Match (TLC, December 16, 2012)

Ziggler put his previously-earned briefcase on the line (stay tuned for that), and, as is modern custom, lost to Cena in several matches on Raw prior to the PPV contest. Just as naturally, Ziggler took his usual laundry list of wild bumps through the course of the match, before winning as a result of AJ Lee shoving Cena off the ladder. That’d be Ziggler’s lone win of relevance over Cena, but Dolph memorably cashed in four months later on Alberto Del Rio.

23. John Morrison vs. Sheamus – Ladder Match (TLC, December 19, 2010)

Forgotten in the dogpile beneath main event-and-celebrity over-focus, Morrison and Sheamus had themselves a nifty little feud late that year, and a title shot at The Miz was at stake. Akin to the Razor/Michaels matches of yore with the larger adversary throwing around the nimble stud, Morrison gradually overcame the odds and won in dramatic fashion after Sheamus attempted to tip the ladder. Sadly, the Morrison/Miz bout is just as forgotten as this great match.

22. Mr. Kennedy vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Matt Hardy vs. Edge vs. Randy Orton vs. CM Punk vs. King Booker vs. Finlay – Money in the Bank Ladder Match (WrestleMania XXIII, April 1, 2007)

Before Damien Sandow came along to look unceremoniously weak in failing in his cash-in against John Cena, there was Mr. Kennedy to lose his briefcase to Edge in a Raw quickie, following a Kennedy injury. The WrestleMania opener had plenty of intrigue, with a host of realistic winners. Jeff’s seated dive through Edge and a bridged ladder is cringeworthy, yet hilarious for the sight of brother Matt encouraging him to do it, then reacting as horror as Jeff lay hurt.

21. Dolph Ziggler vs. Damien Sandow vs. Tyson Kidd vs. Christian vs. Tensai vs. Santino Marella vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Sin Cara – Money in the Bank Ladder Match (Money in the Bank, July 15, 2012)

Another case of a heel being so much fun to watch that the crowd can’t help but cheer for them, the fans in attendance went berserk over Ziggler bumping Christian off a ladder in the end so that “The Show Off” could claim the briefcase. The match also seemed to be a coming-out party for Kidd, whose acrobatics finally had the forum for which to shine. Unfortunately, a torn meniscus sustained early in 2013 would sideline Kidd for almost a year, halting any push.

20. The Dudley Boyz vs. The Hardy Boyz vs. Edge and Christian – WWE World Tag Team Titles, Triple Ladder Match (WrestleMania 2000, April 2, 2000)

The ‘unofficial’ TLC match (the official moniker for such matches wasn’t coined until SummerSlam that year) was the brightest bulb of a shockingly-dim WrestleMania. A quiet crowd most of the night, the fans memorably buzzed for the Dudleyz setting up the table bridge across two ladders inside the ring. Some of the slower spots haven’t aged well, thanks to innovation and improvement, but there’s still plenty of sick spots to marvel at.

19. Edge vs. John Cena – WWE Heavyweight Title, TLC Match (Unforgiven, September 17, 2006)

A bit of a shocker when Edge went over Cena in Cena’s Boston backyard at SummerSlam, but that only meant Edge would return the favor in his native Toronto. The visual of Edge being AA’d off of a ladder through a double stack of tables would remain a fixture in WWE’s “don’t try this at home” PSAs for quite some time afterward. Seems as though out of all of Cena’s frequent opponents, only Edge matches CM Punk in creating consistent greatness with Cena.

18. Jeff Hardy vs. CM Punk – World Heavyweight Title, TLC Match (SummerSlam, August 23, 2009)

Given what a merchandise vessel Hardy had become for a company that loves its multiple revenue streams, it’s hard to believe Hardy would be gone by week’s end, with no return five years later. Punk’s victory transitioned into his tepid feud with The Undertaker, beginning immediately after the match as “The Dead Man” performed a supernatural body switch with a downed Hardy. In 2009, it was astonishing that Punk could win any PPV main event.

17. Christian vs. Alberto Del Rio – Vacant World Heavyweight Title, Ladder Match (Extreme Rules, May 1, 2011)

What a weird time period for WWE. Edge vacates the championship three weeks earlier upon his hasty, very real retirement, and a top contender’s match is made for the PPV. The crowd heavily bought into Christian, and a dramatic finish saw Edge providing timely interference to offset that of Ricardo Rodriguez and Brodus Clay. Christian winning the gold was possibly the biggest pop of his career, so naturally he lost the title to Randy Orton two nights later.

16. Paul London/Brian Kendrick vs. The Hardy Boyz vs. MNM vs. William Regal/Dave Taylor – WWE Tag Team Titles, Ladder Match (Armageddon, December 17, 2006)

Teddy Long punched up this one by adding the Hardyz and MNM, as well as the ladder modifier, seconds before the bell rang, I suppose in an effort to get non-buyers to purchase the show at about 8:23 EST. The match is most notable for Joey Mercury damn near getting his face grafted off in a see-saw spot gone awry, forcing him to wear facial contraptions for a time afterward. London and Kendrick retained in the midst of an 11-month reign the company barely promoted.

15. Daniel Bryan vs. Kane vs. Sheamus vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Justin Gabriel vs. Heath Slater vs. Sin Cara vs. Wade Barrett – Money in the Bank Ladder Match (Money in the Bank, July 17, 2011)

Takes a back-seat to CM Punk and John Cena’s all-timer to close the show, but it holds weight as the match that boosted Bryan into the main event tier where he’d more or less reside ever since. A wellness policy exodus played out as Sheamus powerbombed Sin Cara through a ladder, leading to a stretcher job into thirty days of oblivion for the luchador. Bryan’s victory was fairly unexpected, and the Chicago fans gave him a pop nearly comparable to Punk’s.

14. Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels – WWE Intercontinental Title, Ladder Match (WWE Challenge Taping, July 21, 1992)

The WWE’s first ever ladder match seems very tame compared to the anarchic stunt shows of later years, but two masterful workers in their relative youth put together a dramatic series of ‘near-falls’, with the match more about the drama of the climb instead of insanity. Hart purportedly suggested the match to Vince McMahon, who asked for a demonstration at this TV taping. The match made it onto several video releases, and became a tape-trader’s bounty.

13. Randy Orton vs. CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Christian – Money in the Bank Ladder Match (Money in the Bank, July 14, 2013)

In a roundabout way, this match made it possible for Daniel Bryan to stand tall at the end of WrestleMania XXX, holding two World Titles aloft (although the Rumble was definitely the fuse). The best ladder match in the spinoff PPV’s history began with a hero’s welcome for the returning RVD, and culminated with Paul Heyman turning on Punk, just prior to Orton’s victory, which was confusing at the time, but became much clearer following SummerSlam.

12. The Rock vs. Triple H – WWE Intercontinental Title, Ladder Match (SummerSlam, August 30, 1998)

A year later, Rock was a mega-babyface that transcended the business, while Triple H would be the slimy villain he was born to play. Here, however, was the match that virtually shot both men into the main event for good. In front of a nuclear Madison Square Garden crowd, Rock about blew the domed roof off with a People’s Elbow while Helmsley lay prone on the oddly-yellow ladder. HHH’s win only freed up Rock for the World Title run we all saw coming.

11. Chris Jericho/Chris Benoit vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. The Hardy Boyz vs. Edge/Christian – WWE World Tag Team Titles, TLC Match (SmackDown, May 22, 2001)

A worthy sequel to Benoit and Jericho’s heart-stopping title win over Steve Austin and Triple H one night earlier, an irate Vince McMahon booked the new champs against the TLC Six on free television. WWE Network, assuming it survives the long haul, will eventually have this episode up, as the match is otherwise lost to history thanks to Benoit’s involvement. A shade below the original TLC battles in terms of overall quality, it’s still one of the best ladder matches ever.

10. Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Jack Swagger vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Rob Van Dam (Money in the Bank, June 29, 2014)

The best of both worlds for WWE: a spotfest with some truly innovative moments (Rollins getting back-dropped onto a ladder bridge/puzzle structure) and a great storyline threaded through (Ambrose attempting to kill Rollins for breaking up the Shield). Kingston and company took turns keeping the pulse going while Ambrose, selling a dislocated shoulder, refused to let Rollins win. Kane tombstoned Ambrose to end the Ahab-like endless chase, and Rollins won to build on a genius heel turn.

9. The Hardy Boyz vs. Edge and Christian – Ladder Match (No Mercy, October 17, 1999)

Hanging above the ring was a bank robber’s sack of cash, and the winner would win Terri Runnels’ managerial rights. If it was believed that the winners would be elevated by association with Terri, the four just elevated themselves with a performance for the ages, becoming made men to varying degrees. Interesting note: Edge came dangerously close to missing the match, as he was almost unable to fly to the show due to a hurricane (he lived in the Bahamas at the time).

8. Eddie Guerrero vs. Rob Van Dam – WWE Intercontinental Title, Ladder Match (Monday Night Raw, May 27, 2002)

Easily the best ladder match in Raw’s history, even if Undertaker and Jeff Hardy’s clash a month later received more company hype, despite it being a dramatic finish to an average match. This match was so good, even a moronic fan running interference couldn’t ruin it. RVD regained the gold, leading into the post-match involvement of Steve Austin, who went after Guerrero, only to be thwarted by a returning, suddenly-heel Chris Benoit; an angle that ended up fizzling.

7. Edge vs. Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit vs. Kane vs. Christian vs. Shelton Benjamin – Money in the Bank Ladder Match (WrestleMania XXI, April 3, 2005)

The first of its kind remains the best of its kind. From Benjamin’s hands-free ladder ascension to Benoit German-suplexing Jericho, who was holding a ladder, it’s possibly the most uncluttered Money in the Bank match ever, and one that didn’t overstay its welcome. It’s also arguable that Edge’s eventual cash-in on John Cena was the most relevant of its kind, since nobody had ever seen a cash-in until he did it nine months later. Anything since dilutes the fun to a degree.

6. Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho – WWE Intercontinental Title, Ladder Match (Royal Rumble, January 21, 2001)

There’s a moment of retroactive horror in the body of the match, wherein Benoit goes for his patented headfirst dive to the floor, only for Jericho to wallop him upside the head with a jarring chair shot. If seeing that moment overrides any possible enjoyment you can derive from the art of the match, it’s understood. For the more unmoved, it was a viable candidate for 2001’s match of the year, rivaled by a litany of classics, one of which is to come.

5. Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon – WWE Intercontinental Title, Ladder Match (SummerSlam, August 27, 1995)

Gorilla Monsoon’s first act as figurehead President was to remove Psycho Sid from SummerSlam, and give Razor the shot at Michaels’ gold, in the match they put on the map. Wise choice; it boosted the show into pretty good territory, rare air in 1995. Ramon played de facto villain, smashing Michaels’ knee to pieces with the ladder, before Michaels superkicked him off a second ladder. The botched ending, and Michaels’ tantrum, somehow adds to the charm.

4. The Dudley Boyz vs. The Hardy Boyz vs. Edge and Christian – WWE World Tag Team Titles, TLC Match (WrestleMania X7, April 1, 2001)

From the greatest WrestleMania ever comes the ideal spotfest: accelerated, minimal set-up for the convoluted spots, and the type of chaos that comes from involving a few intruders. Nominee for the best bump visual in ladder match history: Bubba Ray Dudley and Matt Hardy smashing four tables into dust after an interfering Rhyno tipped a painter’s ladder over. Edge and Christian’s win was a bit anti-climactic, but you can’t discount the efforts before then.

3. Edge and Christian vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. The Hardy Boyz – WWE World Tag Team Titles, TLC Match (SummerSlam, August 27, 2000)

Gets the slight nod over its WrestleMania kid-brother for the sole reason of a less rushed ending. Conventional wisdom had the Hardyz going over here in their home state of North Carolina. In defeat, Jeff busted out a frightening Swanton Bomb off a ladder on the floor through Bubba Ray Dudley. The match is also known for an unfortunate double-entendre that Jim Ross made about Edge and Lita that gained new perspective about five years later.

2. Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels – World Heavyweight Title, Ladder Match (No Mercy, October 5, 2008)

Doesn’t stand out, but it should. In fact, a lukewarm crowd is possibly all that kept this from the number one spot. Jericho and Michaels’ hate-filled feud in 2008 came to a head with this match, which was less about cutesy spots, and more heavy on the “I’m gonna kill you” brutality. Indeed, most of the ‘spots’ were Jericho and Michaels trying to make the other suffer, without the need for Rube Goldberg-esque contraptions. An inexplicably undervalued masterpiece.

1. Razor Ramon vs. Shawn Michaels – WWE Intercontinental Title, Ladder Match (WrestleMania X, March 20, 1994)

Like Savage and Steamboat, a newer fan may wonder what’s so special about this match, after seeing many a stuntshow since. For 1994, Ramon and Michaels put together a match just unheard of for the time, and wouldn’t become standard for a few years yet. Michaels took at least five or six crazy bumps off of Ramon’s power-based offense, and the dramatic near-finishes had the MSG crowd buying into every second. It’s still the gold standard.

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Seth Rollins Says Shield Nixed Original Breakup Plans

December 05, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The breakup of the Shield in 2014 has had a massive residual effect on the WWE. Rollins, Ambrose, and Reigns are all poised for big things. Rollins talked about the angle in a recent interview and if it was up to the WWE, it would have happened sooner.

Rollins was a guest on the Talk is Jericho podcast with Chris Jericho and delivered one of the most interesting interviews with a current WWE superstar you will hear in 2014. Unfortunately for Rollins and Jericho, all of the buzz has been lost with CM Punk’s recent podcasts but this was an interview that told you a lot about what could have happened if Vince McMahon had his way.

If you remember, the breakup of the Shield actually started months earlier and the breakup soon turned into a babyface turn for the trio. Rollins told Jericho that the team saw more time in a run together and recalled how he and his teammates delayed the angle and bought time for a big babyface run.

“We said no, we stopped it,” Rollins said. “One major time for sure. They wanted us to be prepared for that, but we’re not cowardly heels. People like us. We put a huge kibosh on it.”

Rollins went on to tell Jericho that the reason they stopped it was because they felt they had a babyface run in them. Rollins felt that the team was appealing to both men and women and that they were leaving money on the table by breaking up without a turn.

“In this company no one had really cornered the market on six-man tags,” Rollins said. “As an attraction, the six-man match had never been an attraction here. We had that six man thing down. We had a pace that catered to our fans. They went with it (the babyface run) for a little while. We talked to them (Vince) and got it settled.”

It is interesting if you think back on it and you have to wonder where things would be today if the trio had broken up when the angle initially started. We wouldn’t have seen the feud vs. Evolution which means Rollins trajectory would have been much different. I think Rollins was the biggest benefactor here as he was looking as the odd man out when the angle started with Ambrose cemented as a U.S. champion and Reigns poised for big things.

Another fascinating note about the interview was a story Rollins told about the original idea for the Shield. Rollins told Jericho that they were booked to come out with big shields that had the word “Shield” on it and laughed about how corny it would have been. He said it was Vince that stopped the three and questioned why all three couldn’t take Ryback without weapons. Rollins said they ditched the weapons at that point and couldn’t be happier.

Listen to the rest of the interview over at Talk is Jericho.

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Top 25 WWE Survivor Series Elimination Matches

November 19, 2014 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Survivor Series just ain’t what it used to be.

First, it was Thanksgiving night. Then it was Thanksgiving eve. Then it moved indiscriminately to just any old Sunday in November. When it started, it was all about the elimination matches. Now it’s about the typically-rushed storylines that are often back-burnered in favor of whatever Cena or Orton are doing, with maybe an elimination match or two shoehorned in there somewhere.

Well, forget about senile Vince McMahon and lack-of-fun Kevin Dunn for a minute. Let’s journey back to when the event MEANT SOMETHING, and let’s share some fond memories of some of the greatest elimination matches that have ever taken place at the Thanksgiving night/eve/located in proximity to the holiday tradition!

After all, it sure beats “John Cena and The Rock vs. what’re-their-names.”

Enjoy!

25. The Holly Cousins and Too Cool def. Edge, Christian, and The Hardy Boyz (11/14/99, Detroit, MI)
Survivor: Hardcore Holly
Gotta admit; that face team would be pretty cool in any era, despite the real life problems of the brothers Hardy. For what it is, it’s a fast paced match between WWE’s “X Division” of 1999; a match in which the second oldest person (Crash) was only 28 years old. When does that EVER happen? Edge being the first one gone was a surprise, as was the heels going over. Then again, since Edge and company were made men after their spectacular ladder match the previous month, why not give some rub to the then-relevant “Big Shot”? Christian’s near-comeback from a three-on-one was fun to watch.

24. Bertha Faye, Aja Kong, Tomoko Watanabe & Lioness Asuka def. Alundra Blayze, Sakie Hasegawa, Kyoko Inoue & Chapparita Asari (11/19/95, Landover, MD)
Survivor: Kong
This was probably the first time since 1988 that WWE had more than three women involved in the same match, and boy, what a comeback for women’s wrestling. Of course, the entire division was scrapped a month later, when Blayze rechristened herself as Madusa and threw the WWE Women’s Title in the trash on WCW Nitro. Alas. The match was a ten minute infomercial for Aja Kong to show how scary-dominant she could be, dropping her fellow Joshi performers on their heads and necks before waylaying Blayze with a spinning back fist to become the sole survivor. Now we get Kelly Kelly rubbing her bony ass in Natalya’s face. Alas.

23. Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit, John Cena, Bradshaw, and Hardcore Holly def. Brock Lesnar, Big Show, A-Train, Matt Morgan, and Nathan Jones (11/16/03, Dallas, TX)
Survivors: Benoit, Cena
Lesnar built a team of brawny monsters to take on GM Paul Heyman’s “most wanted” list. It was notable because, unlike today with Cena and Randy Orton, the two men getting the biggest rub (Angle and Lesnar) were eliminated before the finish, thus making whoever survived look pretty damn special. Indeed, the soon-to-be-megapushed Benoit and the being-molded Cena upended Big Show in the end, after Benoit had made Lesnar tap out. Of course, this is essentially the match that kicked off Cena’s interminable face run, so maybe some of you will want to curse this outing.

22. Shawn Michaels, Triple H, CM Punk, and The Hardy Boyz def. Edge, Randy Orton, Johnny Nitro, Gregory Helms, and Mike Knox (11/26/06, Philadelphia, PA)
Survivors: the entire team
One sided as it was, this match provided some decent crowd-pleasing action, as well as a number of comedy spots. Mike Knox being eliminated by Shawn Michaels in under a minute, and then Shawn asking his team, “Who was he?” is never not funny. “I think he’s on ECW.” “Oh, so we’re doing GOOD then?” Too hilarious. Also of note was Punk outpopping the entire team during the pre-match DX intro, despite having only been in WWE for three months. It’s stuff like that that drives Vince McMahon even more insane.

21. Wade Barrett, Cody Rhodes, Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger, and Hunico def. Randy Orton, Sheamus, Kofi Kingston, Sin Cara, and Mason Ryan (11/20/11, New York, NY)
Survivors: Barrett, Rhodes
It was a pretty good way of putting over Intercontinental Champion Rhodes and soon-to-be pushed heel Barrett (before his arm injury in February). Orton dispatched a drained Ziggler early before Barrett’s team rattled off 4 straight eliminations, leaving Orton alone against 4 men. Swagger went quietly, then Hunico was RKOed out before the Viper was outsmarted, losing to Barrett’s Wasteland.

20. The Miz, Sheamus, Jack Swagger, Dolph Ziggler, and Drew McIntyre def. John Morrison, Matt Hardy, Evan Bourne, Shelton Benjamin, and Finlay (11/22/09, Washington, DC)
Survivors: Miz, Sheamus, McIntyre
Other than McIntyre’s push stalling in 2010, that heel side is like “Team Groom for Greatness”, as the other four men would all go on to hold a World Title. Whereas the face team features three men no longer in WWE, one suspended for ingesting synthetic ganja, and a captain who is a kitty-whipped laughingstock. Regardless, the match was a tremendous showcase of midcarders soon-to-be big deals, which gives Survivor Series (as well as the Royal Rumble) its ochre of flavor. The highlights were McIntyre nearly breaking Bourne in half at the neck with his Future Shock DDT, and Sheamus definitively crushing Finlay in the “Battle of the Brogue.”

19. Davey Boy Smith, Jim Neidhart, Doug Furnas, and Phil Lafon (Team Canada) def. Vader, Steve Blackman, Marc Mero, and Goldust (Team USA) (11/9/97, Montreal, PQ)
Survivor: Smith
Team Canada, it should be noted, featured only one actual Canadian in Lafon. On the night where Bret Hart would be excommunicated from WWE canon, it seemed appropriate that a hastily-assembled team of America haters would be on display. The match was merely a backdrop to begin a feud with Vader and the increasingly-erratic Goldust, who walked out without ever tagging in, but the match was an exciting wrestling exhibition when Vader, Mero, Smith, Furnas and Lafon were involved. Having a pro-Canuck team in an enthusiastic Canadian setting provided a hot crowd as well, even if the match was overshadowed at night’s end by…..well, you know.

18. Ted Dibiase, Rhythm & Blues, and a Mystery Partner (The Million Dollar Team) def. Dusty Rhodes, Koko B Ware, and The Hart Foundation (The Dream Team) (11/22/90, Hartford, CT)
Survivor: Dibiase
Assuming that Honky and Neidhart are future Hall of Famers, as well as the mystery partner, you have eight Hall of Famers in one match. Impressive, no? Anyway, you probably know by now that said mystery partner is The Undertaker, making his WWE debut in grand fashion by obliterating Ware and Rhodes before taking a countout loss to save his mystique. Hart lost his brother Dean the day before to kidney failure, and Roddy Piper (on commentary) declared “The Hitman” had dedicated the match to him. Foreshadowing his eventual singles push, Hart came back from three on one to tussle with Dibiase at the end, losing when the Million Dollar Man rolled through his cross body.

17. Randy Savage, Jake Roberts, Brutus Beefcake, Ricky Steamboat, and Hacksaw Jim Duggan def. Honky Tonk Man, Ron Bass, Harley Race, Hercules, and Danny Davis (11/26/87, Richfield, OH)
Survivors: Savage, Roberts, Steamboat
The first Survivor Series match ever had one of the more intriguing stories ever seen at the event. Honky, Intercontinental Champion for six months running and an unlikely champion at that, was versed by five challengers, all of whom capable of beating him for the gold, if not for Honky’s perpetual luck and knack for cheating. Honky’s teammates weren’t able to go the distance, as Honky found himself stuck with the three men he had feuded with through 1987, and they all still held a grudge. After trying his best to hang with Savage and his cohorts, Honky took a walk for the countout loss. By the way, wouldn’t YOU have loved to see Savage and Steamboat as a semi-regular team? Me too.

16. Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan, Koko B Ware, Hercules, and Hillbilly Jim def. Big Bossman, Akeem, Ted Dibiase, Haku, and The Red Rooster (11/24/88, Richfield, OH)
Survivors: Savage, Hogan
Koko and Rooster main evented a WWE PPV not called “Royal Rumble” or “Irony-Mania”. The Towers were positioned as holdover threats to Savage and Hogan before the “Mega Powers Exploding” months later. Hogan being handcuffed late in the match while Savage had to try and fend off Bossman and Akeem provided some tension to a well-worked, albeit predictable, affair. The sad part was Dibiase, the hottest heel when the year started, reduced to working a nothing angle with former “slave” Hercules, and then floating around with nothing to do for months until he was handed the Jake Roberts feud. Other than such quibbles, it was a fine main event to the Series’ second incarnation.

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15. The Ultimate Warrior, Jim Neidhart, and The Rockers (The Ultimate Warriors) def. Andre the Giant, Haku, Arn Anderson, and Bobby Heenan (The Heenan Family) (11/23/89, Chicago, IL)
Survivor: Warrior
I love when you look back at old matches like this and realize that WWE and Vince McMahon were giving experimental runs to those deemed to have “future prospects.” This particular match was the closer for the 1989 Survivor Series, and Warrior was given a chance to shine as the final act, foreshadowing his World Title run the following year. In addition, Shawn Michaels lasted quite a while in the match for a 24-year-old tag team wrestler, getting to pin Haku before succumbing to Anderson’s spinebuster. Surely with Marty Jannetty eliminated, the match became something of a singles audition for the future Heartbreak Kid. For those wondering why Heenan was in the match, check Tully Blanchard’s drug test results for an explanation.

14. Kofi Kingston, Christian, Mark Henry, MVP, and R-Truth def. Randy Orton, CM Punk, Cody Rhodes, Ted Dibiase, and William Regal (11/22/09, Washington, DC)
Survivor: Kingston
Quite the anachronism in 2011, Orton pinned Henry within the first minute, Orton and Punk worked in tandem, eventual main eventer R-Truth bit the dust early, and Orton Punk were both reviled villains to Christian’s virtuous good guy routine. But rather than expose the fallacies of WWE’s breakneck booking change, let’s look at the upside: Kingston was made with this one, withstanding seven minutes of Punk and Orton breaking him down, to score what should have been a career-boosting victory. Instead, he blew the finish weeks later in a triple threat involving Orton, and Orton had an on-camera freakout that got Kofi punished, but not Randino. Weird.

13. Razor Ramon, 123 Kid, Davey Boy Smith, and The Headshrinkers (The Bad Guys) def. Shawn Michaels, Diesel, Owen Hart, Jim Neidhart, and Jeff Jarrett (The Teamsters) (11/23/94, San Antonio, TX)
Survivor: Ramon
You can be made in a loss, and Diesel was a made man after this performance. After lots of early action in which everyone but Michaels got involved, Diesel said “enough of this” and went on a rampage. Fatu bit the dust with a Jackknife, followed by Kid, then Sionne, and then the Bulldog took a count out loss. With Razor remaining, against 5 on 1 odds, a loss seemed inevitable when Michaels FINALLY tagged in and accidentally superkicked Diesel. In a silly finish, all five heels were counted out when Diesel angrily stalked Michaels. Razor became the only sole survivor in history to never eliminate anyone and, three days later, Diesel beat Bob Backlund to become WWE Champion.

12. Andre the Giant, King Kong Bundy, Rick Rude, One Man Gang, and Butch Reed def. Hulk Hogan, Bam Bam Bigelow, Paul Orndorff, Don Muraco, and Ken Patera (11/26/87, Richfield, OH)
Survivor: Andre
Sorry, Jim Crockett Promotions. When cable providers had to choose between airing Starrcade ’87 and the inaugural Survivor Series, with the lure of Hulk and Andre in the main event, facing off eight months after WrestleMania III, WWE won out in spades. After the sides whittled down to a three on two, Hogan and Andre finally locked horns, but the Hulkster was counted out after Bundy and Gang kept him from re-entering the ring. Bigelow managed to eliminate Bundy and Gang and would have defied the odds Cena-style but, well, it was Andre. The Frenchman flattened Bammer for the final fall, giving himself a just cause to petition a rematch against Hogan for the WWE title. And that’s a fascinating story in itself.

11. Doug Furnas, Phil Lafon, and The Godwinns def. Owen Hart, Davey Boy Smith, and The New Rockers (11/17/96, New York, NY)
Survivors: Furnas, Lafon
After a cup of coffee in ECW in the fall of 1996, Furnas and Lafon debuted in the opening match of Survivor Series 1996, and what a debut it was. Once Marty Jannetty busted his ankle prior to being eliminated, and then both Godwinns went, WWE was in store for action that they’d never seen before. Leif Cassidy (known better as Al Snow) took a header with modified reverse superplex from Lafon, and the well-traveled veterans were made to hold off Hart and Smith, then WWE Tag Team Champions. Bulldog was cradled for elimination, and Furnas planted Owen with an absolutely vicious release German suplex to give Furnas and Lafon the win with a crazy standing ovation from the Garden crowd.

10. The Rock, The Undertaker, Kane, Chris Jericho, and Big Show vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Rob Van Dam, Booker T, and Shane McMahon (11/19/01, Greensboro, NC)
Survivor: Rock
It was an abrupt end to what should have been a money-maker for WWE. The WCW/ECW Invasion had sputtered to a poorly-booked finish, but at least we got a great finale out of it. With the future of the company at stake, and the losing side being forced to disband for good, drama built over the forty-five minute coda. Once down to just Rock and Austin, after Jericho attempted to selfishly maim his own partner, the two icons of the Attitude era put on a dramatic finish, ending with Angle proving to be a mole, as he clocked Austin with a title belt. One Rock Bottom later, and the Alliance was dead, leaving Stephanie to scream like a banshee in tears backstage.

9. The Powers of Pain, Hart Foundation, The Rockers, The British Bulldogs, and The Young Stallions def. Demolition, The Brainbusters, Los Conquistadors, The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers, and The Bolsheviks (11/24/88, Richfield, OH)
Survivors: Powers of Pain
When was the last time WWE had ten teams, REAL teams, under lock and key like this? This would be the second time a match with ten teams would take place (I do believe this spoils a later entry), and it was full of great action and well-told stories. The climax was an inexplicable story turn in which Mr. Fuji intentionally caused Demolition, the World Tag Team Champions, mind you, to be counted out, just so he could manage the Powers of Pain for some reason. In other fascinating notes, the Conquistadors, perennial jobbers, lasted over forty minutes, and the Rougeaus were eliminated early due to a very tense real-life feud with Dynamite Kid.

8. Randy Orton, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, and Maven def. Triple H, Batista, Edge, and Gene Snitsky (11/14/04, Cleveland, OH)
Survivor: Orton
Kicking off one of the greatest five-month story arcs ever seen in WWE history (I’m serious), Orton led his team to victory in a match where the winning side got to run Raw for one month while Eric Bischoff took a long vacation. In the end, it would lead to Batista realizing he could beat Triple H and thus slowly turned on him before brutalizing him for the World Heavyweight Title at WrestleMania 21. Sadly, though, this match didn’t make Orton the top babyface star that Vince McMahon was hoping for, but lord knows they’d try again year after year. Highlight of the match is Maven busting Snitsky open with a stiff right hand, and Gene getting his revenge with a chair shot that just about killed the Shop-At-Home star.

7. Ric Flair, Ted Dibiase, The Warlord, and The Mountie def. Rowdy Roddy Piper, Bret Hart, Davey Boy Smith, and Virgil (11/27/91, Detroit, MI)
Survivor: Flair
What a great beginning, what a lousy finish. Talk about your impressive lists of talent for one match, with the exception of Warlord, who at least provided a musclehead to throw people around and create “ooooh” moments with. Even Virgil in 1991 had hit a nice stride. Smith and Warlord are both eliminated after a Flair cheapshot causes Bulldog to go, and then Hart duplicates the act on Warlord, allowing Piper to pin the big man. The match then ends in a bizarre multi-man count out, with Flair being the only man to beat the count back inside, thus cheaply becoming the sole survivor. It was a shame, because the match was turning into something AWESOME, aided by a white-hot crowd. What a pity.

6. The Shield and The Real Americans def. Rey Mysterio, Cody Rhodes, Goldust, and The Usos (11/24/13, Boston, MA)
Survivor: Roman Reigns

Easily the best elimination match in nearly a decade, WWE gave a Booking 101 demonstration on how to portray a wrestler as a killer. After Dean Ambrose, Cesaro, and Jack Swagger bit the dust, Reigns went ballistic, thinning the field of Rhodes and Jimmy Uso. Seth Rollins bounced Jey Uso out before getting downed by Rey. Down two-on-one, an undaunted Reigns plowed through Goldust and Mysterio in a 30-second span to stand tall. The action along the way was the fast-paced fare you’d expect, given the entrants, but letting one man, one not named Cena or Orton, obliterate so many opponents gave hope that Reigns would become a power player.

5. Skip, Rad Radford, Tom Pritchard, and 123 Kid (The Bodydonnas) def. Marty Jannetty, Barry Horowitz, Hakushi, and Bob Holly (The Underdogs) (11/19/95, Landover, MD)
Survivor: Kid
Imagine in 2011 if they put the likes of Daniel Bryan and other barely-seen, improperly-used talents in one twenty minute match and told them “go nuts.” In this opening match to the 1995 show, fast-paced athletes like Hakushi, Jannetty, and Kid wowed the crowd in spectacular fashion with action that Vince McMahon wasn’t exactly used to putting on. Let’s just say Vince bellowed “WHATAMANEUVER” a lot. After Jannetty finished Skip off with a top rope powerbomb (unheard of in WWE at the time), Kid used help from new stablemate Psycho Sid to finish Jannetty, continuing his remolding into one of Ted Dibiase’s corporate players.

4. Batista, Rey Mysterio, Randy Orton, Bobby Lashley, and JBL (Team Smackdown) def. Shawn Michaels, Kane, Big Show, Carlito, and Chris Masters (Team Raw) (11/27/05, Detroit, MI)
Survivor: Orton
The in-ring action for this one was superb, as you had wrestlers who didn’t even LIKE each other railing off creative double teams for the greater good of brand supremacy (you know, when the brand extension WASN’T a bastardized concept meant to make people care about a draft from year to year….). But as fun and different as the in-ring action was, the action at the commentary desks was even better, as Michael Cole and Tazz sniped with Joey Styles (remember him?), Jerry Lawler, and Jonathan Coachman for the entire match in between calling moves. For once, it seemed like Vince McMahon stepped away from the headset and just let their barbs come naturally, and it was FUN. In the end, Michaels took out Mysterio and JBL, but the RKO got him moments later. Then The Undertaker returned. Great stuff.

3. Razor Ramon, Macho Man Randy Savage, Marty Jannetty, and 123 Kid def. IRS, Diesel, Rick Martel, and Adam Bomb (11/24/93, Boston, MA)
Survivors: Jannetty, Kid
A major substitution took place before the card, as Savage was called in to pinch hit for Mr. Perfect, who either bowed out due to recurring back problems or alcoholic issues, depending on which source you believe. Regardless, the action was raucous for the first fifteen to twenty minutes, with Diesel, Savage, IRS, and Razor, the four bigger players involved, being eliminated. Once down to the monstrous Bomb and wily Martel against two smaller competitors, it seemed that Kid and Jannetty had little chance. This was especially true after Bomb gave Kid a sickening slam on the concrete after a plancha gone bad. However, after a half hour of action, Kid and Jannetty ended the contest with matching sunset flips on both men to become unlikely survivors.

2. Strike Force, Young Stallions, Killer Bees, British Bulldogs, and the Fabulous Rougeau Brothers def. Hart Foundation, Demolition, The Islanders, The New Dream Team, and The Bolsheviks (11/26/87, Richfield, OH)
Survivors: Stallions, Bees
The original twenty-man elimination contest features WWE talents at their most innovative. In a match with Bret Hart, Dynamite Kid, Davey Boy Smith, Tito Santana, and others, this should not be a surprise. Hard to say what was better: Haku nearly decapitating Dynamite with the savate kick, or Paul Roma saving Jim Powers with a top rope sunset flip on Valentine to eliminate him. This match has literally everything: crisp finishing sequences, top-notch wrestling, good swerves (Strike Force, the champs, were eliminated not fifteen minutes into the forty minute match), and a nice underdog finish, as Jim Brunzell pinned Bret Hart, allowing the Bees and Stallions to outsmart the brawnier Islanders en route to victory. If you love tag team wrestling, hunt down a copy of this event, because this match will be your Graceland.

1. Chris Jericho, Christian, Randy Orton, Mark Henry, and Scott Steiner (Team Bischoff) def. Shawn Michaels, Booker T, Rob Van Dam, and The Dudley Boyz (Team Austin) (11/16/03, Dallas, TX)
Survivor: Orton
If Austin’s team were to be victorious, he, as co-GM of Raw, would be allowed to use martial law to keep order on the show (i.e. beat people up). However, if Bischoff’s team won, Austin was out as co-GM. The match began innocuously enough, with Henry, Booker, Steiner, and RVD going, and then Michaels hit a gusher outside the ring, with blood spilling everywhere. Seriously, it looked like he was going to die any second. Jericho and Christian finished off the future Team 3D, and Austin’s hopes were now pinned on a crimson-soaked zombie. Oh, the drama! A fluke Sweet Chin Music took Christian out, and a cradled reversal of the Walls doomed Jericho. Michaels heroically hung in there against a fresh Orton, and the ref was soon knocked out. Austin and Bischoff interjected themselves, and Austin chased Bischoff to the entrance set and thrashed him good, but Batista then jumped the rail, pancaked Michaels with the Batista Bomb, and the ref came around to count Orton’s pinfall, leaving a stunned Austin in the aisleway. Had Austin been gone for more than four months after this, and not returned as the “Sheriff”, it’d have meant a lot more. Instead, it was just a great match, one in which the drama and story meant more than any chain-wrestling sequence could ever mean.

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Top 20 WWE Greatest Survivor Series Teams Ever

November 13, 2014 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

After a quarter century-plus of WWE Survivor Series matches, wherein teams of 4, 5, or even 10, try to outdo one another in the name of survival bragging rights, certain teams have stood out above the fray as being the most powerful and memorable. Here’s 20 of the all-time greats, with no real criteria in place, except the gut feeling of “how awesome were they?”

20. Owen Hart’s Team (1996)
Members: Owen Hart, British Bulldog, The New Rockers
Result: Lost (Opposing Survivors: Doug Furnas and Phil Lafon)
Why They Were Great: For the most part, this was just a hastily thrown together team that had but one purpose: make Furnas and Lafon look like the world-beaters they could be.

But as far as “workrate” battles go, Hart, Bulldog, and Leif Cassidy (Marty Jannetty was gone early) made proficient tackling dummies for Furnas’ suplexes and Lafon’s strikes. Cassidy was floored by an insane inverted superplex from the Frenchman, and Furnas nearly decapitated Owen with a throwing German suplex, giving two new faces the best WWE debut you could ask for.

19. The Royals (1995)
Members: King Mabel, Jerry Lawler, Hunter Hearst Helmsley, and Isaac Yankem DDS
Result: Lost (Opposing Survivors: The Undertaker, Fatu, Savio Vega, Henry Godwinn)
Why They Were Great: Another “patsy” team whose only objective was to get killed by The Undertaker one by one until Mabel, who crushed The Dead Man’s eye socket weeks earlier, ran away in terror after becoming his team’s last hope.

What was most impressive of this team was its lasting power. In the Attitude Era, Helmsley and Yankem would be rechristened Triple H and Kane, and become among the era’s biggest stars. Lawler and Mabel (then Viscera) would stick around as well. Amazingly, all four men would be in WWE in 2008, the year of Big Vis’ final release. Perhaps no other team has had the longevity of the Royals.

18. Team Miz (2009)
Members: The Miz, Sheamus, Drew McIntyre, Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger
Result: Won (Survivors: Miz, Sheamus, McIntyre)
Why They Were Great: I admit to being a fan of teams that feature a host of breakout stars before they broke out; the ‘before they were stars’ squads. Miz’s team was comprised of himself (then-United States Champion), and four men who, outside of some developmental false starts, had really all debuted in the past year.

Miz, Sheamus, Swagger, and Ziggler would all be World Champions within the next year and a half (Sheamus the following month), while McIntyre would go on to become Intercontinental Champion for over five months. The team they beat was, appropriately, built from stars that had seen good runs already (John Morrison, Matt Hardy, Finlay, Shelton Benjamin, and Evan Bourne), so “putting over” the new class made sense.

17. The Heenan Family (1989)
Members: Andre the Giant, Bobby Heenan, Haku, Arn Anderson
Result: Lost (Opposing Survivor: The Ultimate Warrior)
Why They Were Great: Perhaps no other team would be as deserving as the moniker of Dos Equis’ Most Interesting Team in the World. There isn’t a single boring personality on display here; no wasted space.

If the four men were to collectively write a book about their life’s experiences, what would be the best section: Andre’s drinking stories and Hollywood run-ins, Arn’s days of partying with the Horsemen and other wild characters in Atlanta, Haku’s tales of maiming idiots who dare test his toughness, or Heenan’s take on the sport, laced with his one-of-a-kind spit-take-inducing humor?

16. Hardy Boyz/Dudley Boyz (2000)
Members: Jeff Hardy, Matt Hardy, Bubba Ray Dudley, D-Von Dudley
Result: Won (Sole Survivor: Jeff Hardy)
Why They Were Great: WWE had two undeniably-great tag team runs: the latter half of the 1980s, and the early 2000s. In the second example, the Hardyz and the Dudleyz represented two-thirds of the division’s most renowned pairings, thanks to their participation in several breakthrough ladder, table, and ladder/table/chair matches.

At this respective ‘peak’ of their tag team careers, the quartet faced off with the other representative of their pantheon, Edge and Christian, as well as Right to Censor members Bull Buchanan and The Goodfather. The current TNA World Champion found himself remaining with Christian and Goodfather, overcoming interference from Val Venis to eliminate the former pimp, and survived.

15. The Shield/Real Americans
Members: Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Antonio Cesaro, Jack Swagger
Result: Won (Sole Survivor: Reigns)
Why They Were Great: Never before had one Survivor Series team been so rooted in the cyber-savvy indy scene, with Ring of Honor and Combat Zone Wrestling well-represented. The rec-center crowd could beam proudly, seeing Tyler Black, Jon Moxley, and Claudio Castagnoli plugged into classic WWE fare, while CM Punk and The American Dragon tagged elsewhere on the card. Makes Kevin Steen’s signing this year less surprising.
The match was more about putting over the killer edge of Reigns, and did a finer job of making the Shield’s muscle into a superhero as a heel than anything they’ve done since the group’s June 2014 split. Still, all three Shield members are treated like a big deal, all rightfully so, no matter how you feel about Reigns’ rocking chair-wooden dialogue. It’s essentially a dream team for the cool-heel lover.

14. Team Austin (2003)
Members: Shawn Michaels, Rob Van Dam, Booker T, The Dudley Boyz
Result: Lost (Opposing Survivor: Randy Orton)
Why They Were Great: Had this team existed in 1998, its cultural impact would have been even greater than it is here. Between Attitude pioneer Michaels, crowd-favorite Booker, and ECW cornerstones RVD and the Dudleyz, Stone Cold Steve Austin had five fine representatives for an elimination match with high stakes.

In what would end up being, in this author’s opinion, the greatest elimination match in Survivor Series history, Austin’s group waged war with a fivesome selected by Eric Bischoff. In the end, a hopelessly-bloody Michaels eliminated Christian and Chris Jericho, and then nearly ousted Orton before Batista (not in the match) illegally attacked him. Orton scored the pin, and Austin, as a result, was fired (albeit temporarily).

13. Team SmackDown (2005)
Members: Batista, Rey Mysterio, JBL, Randy Orton, Bobby Lashley
Result: Won (Sole Survivor: Orton)
Why They Were Great: It was the only elimination match at the underrated 2005 event, but it was one of the most fun ones of its kind. Smackdown’s group faced a team of five representing Raw; one which had a little less star power (Shawn Michaels, Big Show, Kane….then Carlito and Chris Masters). The end result was a wildly fun match, where even the sniping commentary between the two tables helped steal the show.

As for SmackDown’s team, talk about some impressive star power. Raw had the disadvantage of some of its stars taking part in other matches (John Cena vs. Kurt Angle, Triple H vs. Ric Flair), so Smackdown had the quality advantage. Batista was World Champion at the time, JBL and Orton were part of the main event scene, and Mysterio, after Eddie Guerrero’s passing, was on the verge of being a main eventer himself.

12. The Radicalz (2000)
Members: Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero, Perry Saturn
Result: Won (Survivors: Benoit, Saturn)
Why They Were Great: The foursome represented one particularly rusty nail pounded into the coffin of WCW. Their collective release from the company 10 months earlier not only cost WCW its backbone of hard work and crisp wrestling, but added that backbone of hard work and crisp wrestling to WWE, fortifying perhaps their most impressive roster ever.

Although the fate of the group as a whole has changed the opinions of certain members (only Malenko has made it largely unscathed), in their collective prime, The Radicalz represented wrestling’s in-ring elite. WWE made them even better by shading them in with personality, whether it was Benoit as a ruthless competitor, Guerrero as a comical womanizer, or Malenko as a stoic ladies man. As for Saturn, well…what do you know about Moppy?

11. Team Piper (1991)
Members: Rowdy Roddy Piper, Bret Hart, Davey Boy Smith, Virgil
Result: Lost (Opposing Survivor: Ric Flair)
Why They Were Great: Admittedly, the quality of Survivor Series had dipped from previous years, as evidenced by a putrid contest between teams captained by Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Colonel Mustafa, as well as a drag-asstic four-team match notable only for planting the seed of Shawn Michaels’ heel turn. This match, however, saved the show, along with Undertaker’s first World Title win.

The team, Virgil included, largely represented WWE’s babyface upper midcard of the time period, as Bret was Intercontinental Champion, Bulldog was a capable competitor, Virgil had his best run, and Piper always had that star quality. Even their opponents were a damn fine team, making them entry 11b on this list: Ric Flair, Ted Dibiase, The Mountie, and The Warlord. Shame the match ended with a cheap disqualification.

10. The Teamsters (1994)
Members: Shawn Michaels, Diesel, Owen Hart, Jim Neidhart, Jeff Jarrett
Result: Lost (Opposing Survivor: Razor Ramon)
Why They Were Great: Speaking of cheap endings, after Ramon’s four partners were eliminated by Diesel, “The Bad Guy” became the first wrestler to be his team’s sole survivor without eliminating a single opponent. That’s because a miscue between Michaels and Diesel led to all five villains being counted out in the most unique Survivor finish to date.

But what a roster The Teamsters boasted. Michaels and Diesel were then-Tag Team Champions, and just months away from co-headlining WrestleMania against each other. Owen was wrapping up a feud with brother Bret, and Jarrett was on his way to becoming Intercontinental Champion. One has to wonder where the “Teamsters” name came from. It wasn’t as if they were a union threatening to shirk their duties or anything.

9. The Alliance (2001)
Members: Stone Cold Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Booker T, Rob Van Dam, Shane McMahon
Result: Lost (Opposing Survivor: The Rock)
Why They Were Great: Despite representing a storyline that would infuriate smarks and marks alike with its dullness and lack of drama, given its magnitude, the WCW/ECW hybrid group was reduced to basically Booker and Van Dam in starring roles, with the infusion of established WWE icons that “jumped ship”, thus killing the specialness of the invasion.

But still, on paper, The Alliance was very well represented. Austin was WWE Champion, Angle was his fiercest rival at the time (revealed to be a mole at the match’s conclusion), Booker and RVD saw significant time on Raw and Smackdown as the standouts of the 2001 acquisitions, and even Shane had credibility as a bump machine that freely got his ass whipped against the likes of Angle and Rock that year.

8. Team Powers of Pain (1988)
Members: Powers of Pain, Hart Foundation, Rockers, British Bulldogs, Young Stallions
Result: Won (Survivors: Powers of Pain)
Why They Were Great: Here’s a good argument for the proliferation of tag teams and a solid division: in 1988, there were ten tag teams that competed in this one match, and none of them had names like “(Blank) and (Blank)”. They were all legit duos, many of them over with the crowd, but most importantly, they ended up creating stars.

On this one team, you had Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, and Davey Boy Smith, who would all help carry the company during its darkest times in the mid-90s. Out of these tandems came the stars of the future, and working tags only made them better rounded performers. Factor in Dynamite Kid and Marty Jannetty, and that’s some pretty impressive technicians on one team.

7. Edge and Christian/The Hardy Boyz (1999)
Members: Edge, Christian, Jeff Hardy, Matt Hardy
Result: Lost (Opposing Survivor: Hardcore Holly)
Why They Were Great: As I said in the previous example, tag teams round out performers and create better wrestlers out of them. You’ll find no better example of this in the Attitude Era and beyond than the men who made the tag team ladder match famous. All four men would go on to hold some form of a World Title, or top brand title, in their careers.

Coming together out of respect, this foursome absolutely made themselves with both their daredevil antics, and their youthful vibrance. Edge and Christian would turn heel shortly thereafter, and complete their personas with their self-deluded “gnarly dude” act, while the Hardyz would ride their life-on-the-edge bend to equal stardom.

6. Team DX (2006)
Members: Shawn Michaels, Triple H, CM Punk, The Hardy Boyz
Result: Won (Entire Team Survived)
Why They Were Great: If I could have the collective sum of all five men’s merchandise sales throughout their five WWE careers, I’d never have to work again. Also, I could buy TNA and make Repo Man champion, just to amuse myself. Talk about your collection of diverse, while altogether similar talent that each won over scores of fans.

Even WWE must’ve known the lure of Punk and the Hardyz; usually Shawn and Hunter would’ve remained standing on their own against Edge and Randy Orton’s team. Yet there’s the Straight Edge Superstar and Cameron, NC’s most famous brothers, helping rid Gregory Helms and Johnny Nitro. Shawn Michaels’ elimination of Mike Knox ranks as the funniest moment in the history of the event.

5: The All-Americans (1993)
Members: Lex Luger, The Undertaker, Steiner Brothers
Result: Won (Sole Survivor: Luger)
Why They Were Great: The team reads like the upper midcard of a WCW show in early 1990, but things changed with the former (and future) Turner talents under WWE’s banner. To battle a cliched team of evil foreigners (from horrid places like Japan, Canada, Finland, and Hawaii), Luger amassed a team of two collegiate athletes and a zombie mortician.

But jokes aside, given the limitations of WWE’s roster at the time, this was a pretty impressive team. Undertaker replaced Tatanka, who was injured by Yokozuna and Ludvig Borga, but it was done for the better, in my eyes. Luger/Taker/Steiners was kind of a poor man’s equivalent of Hogan/Andre/US Express 1985, but at least this team was aided by Taker’s super-sweet Colonies jacket. LET FREEDOM RING.

4. Team WWF (2001)
Members: The Rock, Chris Jericho, The Undertaker, Kane, Big Show
Result: Won (Sole Survivor: Rock)
Why They Were Great: It made sense for Vince McMahon to program the best possible group against The Alliance with the futures of both warring sides on the line. After all, when the opposing team featues Austin, Angle, Van Dam, and Booker for a killer blowoff, you need all the star power you can get as a counter punch.

On this team are five men who will all, most assuredly, be in WWE’s Hall of Fame, provided they don’t do anything irreversible to their loved ones. The match also had the benefit of furthering the budding rivalry between Rock and Jericho, which provided us with a number of awesome matches between two of the era’s most charismatic stars. The benefit of less Survivor matches is more star-studded teams.

3. The Hulkamaniacs (1989)
Members: Hulk Hogan, Jake Roberts, Demolition
Result: Won (Sole Survivor: Hogan)
Why They Were Great: For the most part, each team in 1989 had some weak links that would prevent them from making this list. Yeah, Roddy’s Rowdies had Piper and Jimmy Snuka, but the Bushwackers are grounds for disqualifcation. The 4X4’s boasted Jim Duggan and Bret Hart, but Ronnie Garvin and his upside-down toilet brush hairdo (credit: Bobby Heenan) were a dealbreaker.

Not the case with Hogan’s team. Jake Roberts was at his peak as a babyface, feuding with Ted Dibiase after the Million Dollar Man injured his neck. Demolition were the WWE Tag Team Champions on their last great run, and Hogan was the company’s lead dog. He would finish off Zeus here, and in a cage match shortly thereafter, before putting on one of his finest performances ever against the Ultimate Warrior months later.

2. Team Savage (1987)
Members: Macho Man Randy Savage, Ricky Steamboat, Jake Roberts, Brutus Beefcake, Hacksaw Jim Duggan
Result: Won (Survivors: Savage, Steamboat, Roberts)
Why They Were Great: If WWE had a midcard this sustained and deep today, you’d hear far less complaints from know-it-all fans. Savage and Steamboat on the same team is always a win, but factor in Roberts, Beefcake, and Duggan in their physical primes (as well as arguable peak of fanhood), and you can understand the high ranking.

Amazingly, Savage would feud with each of his teammates in high-profile fashion at some point. His legendary issue with Steamboat is a given, but he also feuded with Roberts in 1991 in one of WWE’s raciest stories ever. Macho Man would also battle Duggan in 1989 over the “crown”, and Beefcake was was Hogan’s ally in the post-Mega Powers explosion.

1. The Warriors (1990)
Members: The Ultimate Warrior, Kerry Von Erich, Legion of Doom
Result: Won (Sole Survivor: Warrior)
Why They Were Great: Here’s a case where the team name befit all of the members: Ultimate Warrior, Modern Day Warrior, and Road Warriors. Had Von Erich not been a worn-down shell of his once Greek God self, this team would have been flawless from head to toe. As it is, it’s still the greatest Survivor Series team of all time.

Just the combination of Warrior, at his peak as WWE Champion, and the LOD, the most popular tag team ever, is enough to warrant a top spot. Fans of all ages appreciated the three face-painted gladiators that ripped opponents to shreds with ease. Factor in Von Erich as Intercontinental Champion, and you get a team that has no lack of prestige.

The Randy Savage Story DVD

Randy Macho Man Savage Collector’s Edition Box Set

WWE The Paul Heyman Story

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