20 – The First of 434
Gone were the days of the length championship runs. Bruno Sammartino held the title for over 7 ½ years, then again for almost 3 ½ years, Bob Backlund was champion for nearly 6 years and of course the 80’s were running wild with Hulkamania. This day and age, a reign like that is unimaginable. If a guy held the title for six consectutive months it would be considered an achievement. Shorter title reigns just became norm.
CM Punk never really went for that whole “norm” thing.
Always a scholar and appreciator of the wrestling history, Punk wanted to make the WWE Championship mean something more than it did. The 2011 Survivor Series would see Punk defeat Alberto Del Rio to win the WWE Championship that he would hold for the next 434 days.
The cherry on top – the nod to the past took place at Madison Square Garden.
19 – ISIS Threat
I am sure that those of you who aren’t regular watchers probably saw this one and thought “ugh, how could WWE use something like ISIS in their show?”
Nope! Not a story! Real Life!
In November of 2015, the infamous hacker group “Anonymous” reported that they hacked into the ISIS system and uncovered plans of an attack on a large American gathering in Atlanta. Take a guess where Survivor Series was last year!
The FBI was heavily on the scene to ensure the safety of everyone in the Phillips Arena. Obviously nothing happened. Apparently not even ISIS wanted to see Roman Reigns win the WWE Championship Tournament that night – oops…uh…spoiler alert!
18 – Salvation 11 Years Later
I had mentioned before that Bob Backlund held the WWF Championship for almost 6 years. That reign came to an end when The Iron Sheik put Backlund in the Camel Clutch and Backlund’s manager, Arnold Skaaland, threw in the towel. Backlund never gave up.
This was something that stuck with Backlund for 11 years when he finally got his chance at a WWF Championship rematch. He challenged champion Bret Hart to a submission match where a representative would need to throw in the towel to end the match.
Hart Family drama aside, the biggest takeaway from the match was that Hart’s towel was thrown in and Backlund celebrated with the belt that he claimed to never have lost in the first place.
17 – Rated R Return
The Undertaker vs Batista may have been the best rivalry of 2007. The two would spend nearly the entire year going at it over the World Heavyweight Championship. The rivalry would come to a head at the 2007 Survivor Series inside Hell in a Cell.
At the end of another physical match between the two, a cameraman who was inside the cell would nail The Deadman with his camera giving Batista the win. The cameraman…was Edge, who had been out with an injury since the summer. Edge and The Undertaker would end up main eventing WrestleMania the following year in yet another amazing program for the legendary Phenom.
16 – Genesis of a Sibling Rivalry
The 1993 Survivor Series was, well, forgetful at best. I have no follow up to that, just forgetful.
During the forgetfulness though was what was pegged as the “Family Feud” match. In it, the Hart brothers united as Bret, Owen, Bruce and Keith took on the team of Shawn Michaels and…his three knights. Again, forgetful.
What wasn’t forgetful though was the fact that Bret was accidently knocked into the guard rail when Owen was whipped into the ropes. While the entire family was tending to Bret, Owen was rolled up, pinned and would be the only Hart eliminated.
In the post-match celebration, Owen would come back into the ring and shove Bret starting what would be one of the best told stories of the mid-90s, Bret vs Owen, brother vs brother.
15 – Rock Plays A Deadly Game
The WWF Championship was vacant in November of 1998 which led to a one-night tournament to decide the new champion. 14 men were entered and when all was said and done it came down to a Final match between the lovable corporate lackey Mankind and the new fan favorite The Rock.
After a back and forth match, Rock gave Vince McMahon the People’s Eyebrow and then put Mankind in the sharpshooter. Once the leg hold was in, McMahon immediately and the timekeeper ring the bell and end the match. Sounds a little familiar…well we’ll probably get into that later.
Anyway, The People’s Champ quickly became The Corporate Champ as The Rock won his first WWF Championship.
14 – Hulkamania Is Not Immortal
After just a year in the WWF, The Undertaker garnered enough credibility to challenge The Immortal Hulk Hogan for the WWF Championship at the 1991 Survivor Series.
History was already made as this was the first match in the history of the Survivor Series event that was not a tag team elimination match. That was just the start though. The rookie Phenom would do the seemingly unthinkable and defeat the unbeatable Hogan and become the WWF Champion. Things went pretty well for The Deadman from there.
13 – Vehicular Retribution
We’ll get into it in more detail later on, but at the 1999 Survivor Series, Stone Cold Steve Austin was hit by a car and would be out of action for almost a year. Between then and the fall of 2000, the question was “Who ran over Stone Cold?”
We found out that it was Rikishi behind the wheel, and would later find out that he did it for the mastermind of the plot, Triple H. This gave us the 2000 main event match of Triple H vs Stone Cold Steve Austin.
The match itself was just a glorified street fight. The fight would spill into the parking lot where Triple H tried to lure Austin out to run him over again. The Game got in a car and waited, but was hit himself by a Rattlesnake driven forklift. Austin would lift the car up probably a good 25-30 feet and then drop the car with Triple H in it upside down.
…The Game would be out a couple weeks.
12 – Meeting The Chamber
It was billed as a combination of Survivor Series, the Royal Rumble and War Games.
In 2002 Survivor Series made its way back to Madison Square Garden. A major show in what is considered to be WWE’s home arena needed something big. It doesn’t get much bigger than tons of steel and chain forged together to create the Elimination Chamber.
Two men start the match and four more are held in pods outside of each corner of the ring released in timed intervals. The World Heavyweight Championship was the carrot at the end of the stick held out to Shawn Michaels, Chris Jerihco, Booker T, Rob Van Dam, Kane and current champion Triple H.
Not only was the match concept itself a memorable moment, but the fact that in only his second match after being out of action for over four years, Shawn Michaels became the World Heavyweight Champion!
Even more incredible, and somewhat forgotten a bit, is yet another example of the resolve of Triple H. Everyone knows about how The Game tore his quad and still finished the match … … … twice. In the first chamber match, RVD hit the 5-Star Frog Splash on Triple H from the top of one of the pods. Coming down, Van Dam’s leg came across The Game’s throat crushing his trachea. This happened pretty early in the match and he still finished the match. To say that it’s commendable is an understatement.
11 – It’s Not Who You Think It Is
SmackDown’s main event for the 2008 Survivor Series was a triple threat match between WWE Champion Triple H and his two challengers, Vladimir Kozlov and Jeff Hardy. New broke earlier in the day that Hardy was found laid out in the hotel stairway (a story played out so well that several legit news outlets were picking up the story) so Hardy would not be able to compete in the match.
Triple H and Kozlov went at it one on one and were having pretty good match whenSmackDown General Manager Vickie Guerrero hit the stage and exclaimed that the triple threat match was still on “HE’S HERE!!! HE’S HERE!!!”
Only the “HE” that Guerrero was referring to was NOT Hardy, it was the returning Edge who we had not seen since August. Hardy would make his way to the arena to attack Edge but it wasn’t enough as the Ultimate Opportunist would steal the WWE Championship.
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