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WWE Survivor Series – Why we are better off without the elimination match format

It’s November again, time for WWE to march headlong into the annual installment of their second longest running pay per view, Survivor Series. It’s also time for old school fans across the land to take to the web in their droves, pining for days gone by and uttering those familiar cries that Survivor Series should return to its roots and feature nothing but four-on-four (or five-on-five) elimination matches.

[adinserter block=”1″]Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a little nostalgia. We all have a tendency to believe that things were much better in the early days of our wrestling fandom -just ask anyone who caught the bug at the height of the attitude era- and in many cases we’re right.

Not so with the Survivor Series. Trust me on this one, anybody who thinks Survivor Series would be much better returning to an all-elimination-match format is wrong. Dead wrong.

Why? Because most of those matches sucked.

Sure, we all have fond memories of say the ten team, twenty-man tag classic from the 1988 Survivor Series or the admittedly enjoyable Teamsters vs. Bad Guys outing six years later, but for every match with something good on offer, early Survivor Series PPV featured their fair share of stinkers.

The good, the bad, and the terrible
The likes of Slaughter, Duggan, Von Erich and Santana vs. Col. Mustafa, Berserker, Skinner and Hercules from 1991 and 1997’s snoozer between The Truth Commissioner and The Disciples of the Apocalypse have are far more reflective of the quality of Survivor Series matches than any of the good stuff coming out of the format.

Heck, if it wasn’t for the only non-elimination match on the card (Hogan vs. Undertaker for the WWF championship), the 1991 Survivor Series would probably rival Wrestlemania IX for the title of Worst 90s Pay Per View Ever.

It’s likely Vince McMahon and his team recognised this early on. Even just a few years into the event’s history, WWE were experimenting with mixing up elimination bouts with other featured contests, whilst 1993’s event was the last one to feature only traditional Survivor Series matches.

Since then, the annual November show has played host to countless singles matches, title bouts and other non-elimination matches, and has been all the better for it.

Diesel vs. Bret. Bret vs. Austin and the first ever Elimination Chamber match have all main event the PPV, whilst we’ve also seen many a pair of midcarders have more opportunity to shine than they would if we still got the full four-on-four thing going on.

Which brings me to another argument fans give in favour of a return to the event’s original format.

Less is more
Surely if we’ve got more multi-man matches going on, that provides greater opportunities to stuff more Superstars on the card? Yes it does. That’s not to say that all of those superstars are going to have ample opportunity to show what they’re capable of.

What with time constraints and WWE’s occasional bad habit to give greater precedent to meaningless backstage skits than in-ring action, there’s a great risk that many wrestlers will get little more than a brief in-ring cameo.

Plus. let’s be honest here, more isn’t always better.

[adinserter block=”2″]Early Survivor Series shows crammed as many grapplers as they could on there, and the results were more often well below pay per view quality.

Does that mean we should do away with elimination matches altogether? Not at all. As we’ve already see, WWE are more than capable of producing a good match of this type, but they work best when kept as special attraction rather than the sole attraction.

That’s just one man’s opinion though. What do you think, readers?

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Chris Skoyles
Chris Skoyles is a writer and wrestling fan from Wigan, England. Currently on a mission to watch and review every WWE ppv from Wrestlemania 1-30, you can read those reviews on the Retro Pro Wrestling blog, tweet him @Retropwrestling, or visit his personal site at


  1. Wait, did you actually reference Hogan vs. Taker as the one GOOD match on the SS’91 card? That’s one of the worst PPV main events of all time. SS’91 was a terrible show but Hogan vs. Taker is one of the main reasons why.

    Also, if you’re going to say there have been more bad elimination matches than good over the years, the same is absolutely true of non-elimination matches. Bam Bam vs. Goldust? Angle vs. Stasiak? Nearly EVERY match in the Deadly Game tournament? The Series has been fraught with poor bouts of all kinds over the decades. Don’t blame the elimination matches – they’re the one thing keeping the show memorable most years. Case in point SS 2013 – the opening traditional match was the only good thing about that show.

    • Certainly did Justin, that’s just how bad 91 was. There’s been some good stuff at Survivor Series over the years, but I agree the majority of it has been pretty poor.

      I’m not saying get rid of elimination matches altogether, but I’m not on the side of those who agree we should return to formats featuring only those kind of matches.

      Some of those early Survivor Series were painful to watch in full.

      • But some of them were awesome too. The ’87 and ’88 cards are still the two best IMO. I think they blew it during the Attitude era when almost everyone on the roster was over and had a meaningful program. That’s the environment you’d need to build a whole card of elimination matches again, and sadly WWE Creative seems incapable of this.

        I’d settle for something along the lines of 1995 where you’d have a WWE Title match and maybe one other singles match, with four elimination bouts.


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