Through it all — the 26 Survivor Series events and dozens of Traditional Elimination Tag Team Matches — some groups have simply stood out above the rest. Whether it was due to their unique, never-before-seen lineups or their superbly impressive performances, here are 15 Survivor Series squads worth celebrating.
15.) Team SmackDown~ Rey Mysterio, Randy Orton, JBL, Batista and Bobby Lashley
Blue-brand loyalty coursed through the veins of Team SmackDown in 2005. Led by World Heavyweight Champion Batista, the five-man ensemble put aside their disparate individual objectives long enough to overcome an imposing Team Raw of Shawn Michaels, Kane, Big Show, Carlito and Chris Masters. Underscoring SmackDown’s shocking cohesiveness were several key eliminations that stemmed from tandem efforts. Rey Mysterio stunningly pinned Big Show after a deluge of high-impact finishing moves executed in succession: The World’s Largest Athlete only went down after absorbing a Clothesline from Hell by JBL, a 619 by Mysterio, an RKO by Randy Orton, a second Clothesline from Hell and, finally, a springboard senton splash by The Ultimate Underdog.
Orton secured victory for the team, outlasting HBK to become the match’s sole survivor (the third time in as many years that Orton was the last man standing in a Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Tag Team Match). Despite what may appear to have been a singular accomplishment, there’s no denying that Team SmackDown only earned the “W” thanks to their teamwork. (Case in point: Orton RKO’d Michaels but only after JBL, who had been eliminated, distracted The Showstopper.) For whatever they lacked in friendship, the members of Team SmackDown undeniably made up for it with focus and determination
14.) The Rude Brood~ Rick Rude, Mr. Perfect and The Fabulous Rougeaus
Rick Rude had a clear aesthetic in mind when he assembled his Rude Brood squad in 1989. Unlike the Brood’s happily unkempt opponents, the Roddy Piper–led Roddy’s Rowdies — featuring the scalp-licking Bushwhackers and barefooted Jimmy Snuka — Rude’s clan fancied themselves pretty boys who caused women to swoon. The stark contrast in styles held true from an in-ring grappling perspective, too. Whereas Piper’s team was full of brawlers who specialized in crude strikes, Rude surrounded himself with second-generation Superstars known for their technical proficiency. Strengthening the Brood further were the strategy-minded managers at ringside, “Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart and The Genius, another second-generation grappler. (Conspicuous by his absence, however, was Rude’s own manager, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan.)
Elitist, country-club cocky and prone to get lost in their own mirrored reflections, the members of The Rude Brood fit better than an Italian suit. At least some of that familiarity might be chalked up to the longstanding friendship between The Ravishing One and Mr. Perfect, who were members of the same 1976 graduating class of Robbinsdale High School in Minnesota. Though Jacques & Raymond Rougeau were the first two Superstars eliminated in the match, giving way to a four-on-two advantage for the Rowdies, Rude and Perfect battled back to even the score. Ultimately, Perfect — who was undefeated in WWE heading into Survivor Series 1989 — wound up as the bout’s lone survivor, ensuring his record remained unblemished … not unlike the meticulous appearance of he and his teammates.
13.) Razor Ramon, Randy Savage, 1-2-3 Kid, Marty Jannetty
Razor Ramon’s first rodeo as a Survivor Series team captain came in 1993, and The Bad Guy cut no corners in assembling a versatile, era-spanning four-man unit that wound up victorious. He also apparently had little interest in letting old gripes influence his choice of teammates, as he enlisted two former foes to join his cause.
This team is where Ramon and The Kid’s well-documented kinship began to blossom and the development was all the more inspirational for the fact that Kid had scored a major upset win over Ramon earlier in the year. (Kid’s win over the larger, toothpick-slinging veteran was a career-defining moment that Ramon did not originally accept with grace.) Similarly, it was only a year earlier at Survivor Series 1992 that Ramon teamed with Ric Flair in one of the event’s marquee matches to take on Mr. Perfect and, you guessed it, 1993 teammate “Macho Man” Randy Savage.
Even though both Ramon and Savage lost falls and were eliminated, The Bad Guy was rewarded for his “let bygones be bygones” mentality when Kid and Jannetty persevered the attrition and outlasted opponents Diesel, Rick Martel, Adam Bomb & Irwin R. Schyster
12.) Aja Kong, Bertha Faye, Lioness Asuka, Tomoko Watanabe
At first glance, Bertha Faye’s team of Japanese women wrestlers Aja Kong, Lioness Asuka & Tomoko Watanabe looked as at-home in a WWE ring as Art Donovan at a commentary table. Though the pigtailed, kaleidoscopic-attired Faye — a heavyweight bruiser and former Women’s Champion — picked a team that held little to no name recognition with the 1995 WWE Universe, the performance of the team was stellar, and Kong’s effort that night, in particular, became the stuff of Survivor Series lore.
Battling a four-lady crew captained by then-Women’s Champion Alundra Blayze, Faye’s team endured an early elimination (Asuka) before the 230-pound bleach blond Kong entered the bout and cleaned house. Then the national spokesperson for orange juice in Japan, Kong quickly squashed opponents Sakie Hasegawa, Chiparrita Asari and Kyoko Inoue like ripe Valencia oranges, eliminating all three in just more than a minute’s time.
Blayze staged a fierce comeback, but in the end, she was overwhelmed by the backfist of the sole survivor of Team Faye — Aja Kong. “It’s about competition, it’s not really about looks,” color commentator Mr. McMahon said, moments before Kong’s closed fist rearranged Blayze’s face.
11.) Team Kingston~ Kofi Kingston, Mark Henry, R-Truth, MVP and Christian
When The Miz recently berated Kofi Kingston for never achieving a big moment in his WWE career, The Awesome One must have forgotten about The Boom Squad Leader’s performance at 2009’s Survivor Series in the U.S. capital. To say The Dreadlocked Dynamo was impressive would be the understatement of the year.
Kingston assembled a team of WWE’s toughest do-gooders on the roster — Montel Vontavious Porter, Mark Henry, R-Truth and Christian — to face off with a cadre of devious competitors. Randy Orton gathered his Legacy of Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase, and added former World Heavyweight Champion CM Punk and the veteran William Regal. The teams took turns dispatching each other’s members until Orton stormed the ring and nailed Christian with an RKO, leaving Kofi to fend for himself against Punk and The Viper.
Kofi and The Second City Savior battled back and forth with The Apex Predator gazing on from ringside. Kingston had his former tag team partner well scouted and reversed a roll-up attempt to eliminate Punk. Orton slithered onto the canvas but was nailed in the skull with a Trouble in Paradise instantaneously. Within six seconds, Kofi had eliminated two of the most skilled World Champions in WWE history. Now that’s a big moment
10.) Randy Savage, Ricky Steamboat, Jake Roberts, Jim Duggan and Brutus Beefcake
The first match of Survivor Series 1987 was also the debut Survivor Series Elimination Tag Team Match, and all eyes were on the 10 participants competing in this inaugural contest. Taking on the quintet of The Honky Tonk Man, Hercules, Harley Race, Danny Davis & Outlaw Ron Bass, “Macho Man” Randy Savage captained his squad of Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan & Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake.
What made Savage’s team great that night was the smart, skillful and savvy way they conducted themselves, as evidenced by how the bout progressed. It ultimately boiled down to an uncomfortable scenario for The Honky Tonk Man, as he wound up going solo against Savage, Steamboat and Roberts. And after being shaken and rattled, Honky rolled out of the ring and into the night, making “Macho Man,” “The Dragon” and “The Snake” the winning survivors.
9.) Shawn Michaels, Ahmed Johnson, Sycho Sid and British Bulldog
This intriguing hodgepodge of talent — fan favorites Shawn Michaels & Ahmed Johnson teaming with baddies Sycho Sid & British Bulldog — is the result of a one-off concept WWE tried out in 1995: a Wild-Card Match in which the members of two opposing teams were selected at random. Besides being a confounding lineup, the HBK/Johnson/Sid/Bulldog mashup was also a well-balanced representation of latter-day New Generation WWE.
In November 1995, The Showstopper was racing his way toward his first WWE Championship, and he was doing so with the backing of a passionate Kliq (as in the mid-90s HBK fan base, not the curtain-calling Superstars). Shortly before Survivor Series, Bulldog ditched his trademark braids and turned his back on the WWE Universe as he steadily built a resume worthy of a WWE Title No. 1 contender. (Davey Boy Smith would, in fact, vie for the title on the following month’s pay-per-view.) Though still a year away from his first WWE Title, Sid was a dominating force — a onetime bodyguard of Michaels who had a bone to pick with his former boss. Lastly there was Johnson, who was a hulking rookie in possession of the Pearl River Plunge, an exhilarating powerbomb variant that was unlike any other finishing move in WWE at the time.
In short, the team was an incredible package of talent, even if all the members did not see eye-to-eye. The only Superstar on the quartet not to “survive” against Yokozuna, Owen Hart, Razor Ramon and Dean Douglas was Sid, who ate a Superkick from Michaels en route to being pinned.
8.) Andre The Giant, Rick Rude, One Man Gang, King Kong Bundy and Butch Reed
At the inaugural Survivor Series in 1987, the legendary Andre the Giant captained a squad of super heavyweights capable of destroying anything put in front of them — whether it was Bam Bam Bigelow, Hulk Hogan or a six-foot sub.
Intent on crushing The Hulkster six months removed from their iconic WrestleMania III collision, Andre and his manager, Bobby Heenan, grouped the combined 900 pounds of King Kong Bundy and One Man Gang with the buffed pairing of Rick Rude and Butch Reed to form the most titanic five-man faction of all time.
Startlingly, Andre’s partners appeared somewhat small in the shadow of “The Eighth Wonder of the World,” but the group’s combined mass of nearly a ton was simply too much for The Immortal One and his imposing team of Ken Patera, Don Muraco, Paul Orndorff and Bam Bam Bigelow to handle. Following the ousting of Reed, Patera, Orndorff, Rude and Muraco, Hogan was counted out while scuffling with Bundy at ringside. The Beast from the East held his own from there, eliminating both One Man Gang and Bundy on his own before Andre put the Asbury Park, N.J., native down.
The giant’s team proved dominant, but it’s hard to tell what would be worse — having to face the mammoth squad in the ring or getting seated in-between them on an international flight.
7.) Team Guerrero~ Eddie Guerrero, John Cena, Big Show and Rob Van Dam
With the benefit of hindsight, historians can point to this Survivor Series 2004 collective put together by WWE Hall of Famer Eddie Guerrero and observe, for example, that the foursome boasts more than 20 World Titles among them. Less quantifiable is the immense charisma and star power that radiated from Latino Heat, the Cenation leader, The World’s Largest Athlete and The Whole Dam Show.
The true appeal of Team Guerrero, however, was the stylistic dichotomy at play. Taking the thunder-and-lightning dynamic of many legendary tag teams and doubling it, Team Guerrero paired two of WWE’s all-time greatest highfliers, Latino Heat and RVD (masters of the Frog Splash, both), with two of the most physically imposing Superstars ever, in Cena and Big Show. With that combination of hiccup-quick aerial strikes and unrelenting power, it’s no wonder Team Guerrero plowed through Kurt Angle, Carlito, Luther Reigns and Mark Jindrak with most of its team intact. Among the four Superstars, only Van Dam lost a fall against Team Angle. The manner in which Team Guerrero finished off its last foe, Angle himself, was exhilarating: Cena dropped the Olympic gold medalist with an Attitude Adjustment, which was followed by an awe-inspiring Guerrero Frog Splash and a Big Show pin
6.) The Visionaries~ Rick Martel, The Warlord and Power & Glory
If any team proved that the whole is, indeed, greater than the sum of its parts, it was Rick “The Model” Martel’s Visionaries in 1990. Over the course of Survivor Series’ proud history, only six teams have achieved perfection — that is, beaten their competition without losing a single fall, a single member — and the very first unit to clear this hurdle was The Visionaries.
Make no mistake: Neither Martel nor The Warlord, nor Hercules & Paul Roma, would ever be described individually as a “slouch.” Yet if you review their title records in WWE, it’s a relatively thin file: Martel held the World Tag Team Titles with perennial ringsider Tony Garea and, later, Tito Santana, but beyond those reigns, The Visionaries’ cumulative championship gold adds up to zilch. In some respects, The Visionaries’ sound four-to-zip trouncing of Jake Roberts’ Vipers (Jimmy Snuka & The Rockers) may have been the pinnacle of the four Superstars’ astonishingly title-light careers in WWE.
The Visionaries worked effectively as a unit: The Warlord pinned Marty Jannetty, Martel rolled up Snuka and Power & Glory downed Shawn Michaels before Martel baited “The Snake” out of the ring to cause a count-out. Moreover, Martel’s crew looked like a true team: One glimpse at the official Survivor Series 1990 group photo showing Power & Glory with matching red-flame sunglasses, Hercules with his steel chain, The Warlord with a Phantom of the Opera–inspired metallic half-mask and a suited Martel holding a hookah-looking device containing his patented Arrogance fragrance is enough to know that The Visionaries placed a premium on looking cool … or at least, like an indulgent team that had a large prop budget.
5.) The All-Americans~ The Undertaker, Lex Luger and The Steiner Brothers
Fresh off his cross-country “Lex Express” bus tour that summer, American hero Lex Luger saw fit to surround himself with his compatriots to do battle — on Thanksgiving Eve and in Boston, no less — against The Foreign Fanatics squad of then–WWE Champion Yokozuna, Ludvig Borga, Quebecer Jacques & American expat Crush at Survivor Series 1993.
Whatever lingering doubt there may have been that The Total Package’s allies — namely, the cold individualist Undertaker — would not share his passion for the red, white and blue was quashed as soon as The Phenom formally accepted a spot on the team and opened his black trench coat to reveal a lining of Stars and Stripes.
Outpouring of patriotism aside, The All-Americans was a dream team for the fact it paired a quintessential WWE original, The Undertaker, with three Superstars whose greatest success came while competing in WCW. The fearsome foursome of Luger, The Undertaker and Rick & Scott Steiner would have excelled in any era, but the opportunities for all four Superstars to team together were few and far between. Survivor Series 1993 just happened to be one of those rare lucky nights when the stars aligned just right.
4.) Team WWE~ The Rock, The Undertaker, Kane, Big Show and Chris Jericho
The 2001 edition of WWE’s fall classic was no middle-of-the-road Survivor Series. This time, it was winner-take-all. Literally.
Following WWE’s acquisition of WCW in March of that year, the Atlanta-based organization banded together with the recently defunct ECW to form The Alliance in July. Over the following five months, the invading forces crippled Mr. McMahon’s soldiers, won titles and even managed to create turncoats out of WWE’s crowned jewels, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle. After nearly half a year of intense battles, the two factions agreed to face off in one final clash at Survivor Series with Traditional Elimination Tag Team Match rules.
To ensure the future of his organization, Mr. McMahon assembled a dream team comprised of five of the greatest Superstars of all time: The Rock, Kane, The Undertaker, Big Show and Chris Jericho. The defenders of WWE proved their might and claimed victory over the likes of ECW’s Rob Van Dam, WCW’s Booker T, WCW owner Shane McMahon, Angle and Austin. Perhaps appropriately, the match came down to The People’s Champion and The Texas Rattlesnake. The Great One stood tall as the sole survivor, effectively ending The Alliance and solidifying WWE’s dominance in sports-entertainment.
3.) The Hulkamaniacs~ Hulk Hogan, Jake Roberts & Demolition
When The Million Dollar Man put together a team with monsters like The Powers of Pain and The Human Wrecking Machine, Zeus, then–WWE Champion Hulk Hogan needed to assemble an all-star squad to try and fell their gigantic foes.
The Hulkster didn’t have to search far for willing partners. To counter the massive Barbarian and Warlord, Hogan enlisted their most bitter rivals, World Tag Team Champions Demolition. And to get the ultimate mental advantage over The Million Dollar Team, he brought in Jake “The Snake” Roberts.
Roberts’ penchant for mind games paid off before the bell even rang at Survivor Series 1989. To get DiBiase and his cronies out of the ring, “The Snake” unleashed his pet python, Damien, on the canvas.
But while The Million Dollar Team’s nefarious tactics took out all of their opponents besides Hogan, it eventually came back to bite them. Zeus was disqualified for refusing to release a chokehold on the WWE Champion, and The Powers of Pain were tossed for a vicious double-team attack. DiBiase thought he had an easy victory over Hogan, but The Hulkster overpowered him to claim the win.
Despite Hogan being the sole survivor, The Hulkamaniacs remain one of the most star-studded and well-loved Survivor Series teams of all time.
2.) Team DX~ Triple H, Shawn Michaels, CM Punk, Jeff Hardy, and Matt Hardy
No team has represented the past, present and future of WWE better than the squad put together by D-Generation X at Survivor Series 2006. Shawn Michaels and Triple H, two of the most decorated Superstars in WWE history, looked to counter Edge and Randy Orton’s partnership with Mike Knox, Gregory Helms and Johnny Nitro.
First, they brought Matt and Jeff Hardy into the fold. The Hardys offered a wealth of high-flying, daredevil attributes to the team. And while DX was disbanded, the brothers from North Carolina became quite possibly the most popular tag team of their day.
But what surprised many, including the rest of Team DX, was the reaction their partner CM Punk got in Philadelphia. DX couldn’t even get through their trademark pre-match spiel without being drowned out by the WWE Universe’s chants for The Straight Edge Superstar, who was just five months into his WWE career. Triple H relented, letting Punk have his line, asking the crowd “Are you ready?”
Team DX certainly was ready. Shawn Michaels eliminated Mike Knox just seconds after the bell rang, kicking off a clean sweep of Team Rated-RKO. The pairing of DX, The Hardys and CM Punk was one of the few Survivor Series teams to remain fully intact when the final bell rang.
1.) The Warriors~ Ultimate Warrior, The Texas Tornado, and The Legion of Doom
At the peak of his powers after having defeated Hulk Hogan for the WWE Title at WrestleMania VI, Ultimate Warrior brought together the single greatest squad in the history of the fall classic to battle Mr. Perfect and the Demolition triumvirate of Ax, Smash and Crush in the opening bout of the 1990 Survivor Series.
Looking less like a group of WWE Superstars and more like a collection of comic book heroes who had busted out of the ink panel and into the real world, The Warrior’s Warriors combined the WWE Champion’s frenetic energy with the barroom ruggedness of the most dominant tag team in wrestling history, The Legion of Doom, and the athletic brilliance of “The Texas Tornado” Kerry Von Erich.
The four most popular Superstars in WWE outside of The Hulkster at the time, the pumped up squad whipped the Hartford Civic Center into a lather as they brought the fight to the so-called Perfect Team. The heated enmity between Hawk & Animal and Demolition caused both teams to be disqualified for reckless brawling early, while Texas Tornado fell victim to the dreaded Perfect-Plex. Warrior was not to be denied, though, as he put Perfect away with a resounding splash.
In the end, Mr. Perfect & Demolition proved they were far from pushovers, but it would’ve taken an attack from Dr. Doom to halt The Warriors.