As one of the “Big Four,” the Survivor Series predates both the Royal Rumble and SummerSlam. It’s also the only one of the Big Four that has been tweaked with several times over. Sometimes it’s traditional Survivor Series teams, sometimes it’s a tournament, sometimes a series of grudge matches. More often than not, the Survivor Series is a hodgepodge of matches with traditional five on five or four on four matches interspersed.
While this isn’t the first year that three brands are involved, it’s the first year where all three brands are represented and are being treated as a distinctive threat. Let’s look back now at the 10 Best Survivor Series Events Ever, Ranked.
10 The Dead Rises - 1990
For posterity’s sake, you can’t have a list like this and not include the 1990 edition of the Survivor Series. It’s the only time ever that all of the winners went on to a grand match of survival. It’s also the only time on WWE PPV that Demolition met the Road Warriors (alongside their respective four-man teams).
Two major debuts also happened at the event, a giant egg hatched to reveal the Gobbledy Gooker, but of course most importantly, The Undertaker made his grand debut and annihilated several members of the Dream Team before getting himself counted out.
9 Sheamus Cashes In - 2015
2015 was supposed to be Seth Rollins’ year, then a bad landing put him out of commission and the 2015 Survivor Series turned into a tournament for Rollins’ vacated title. A tournament that Roman Reigns won before Sheamus cashed in his Money In The Bank to win his last chance at singles relevancy (for now).
The event also was about celebrating 25 years of destruction as the Brothers Of Destruction did battle with the Wyatt Family.
8 Deadly Game - 1998
One year after Montreal and the WWE landscape was incredibly different. Bret was in WCW, Shawn was on sabbatical and new blood was rising like Stone Cold, the Rock, and Mick Foley.
After a wild title match between Kane and Undertaker with Austin as guest referee, the title was declared vacant and the Deadly Game tournament took center stage at the 1998 event. For all the flack Vince Russo gets, this big is actually masterful storytelling.
7 Stone Cold Hearts Clash - 1996
The stirrings of Attitude were pushing against the New Generation Era at the 1996 show from Madison Square Garden. Besides the less than auspicious debut of Rocky Mavia, this show also saw the return of Bret Hart and the beginning of his epic feud with Stone Cold.
In the main event, super babyface champion Shawn Michaels got booed out of the building. He defended the title against Sid, who the New York crowd hailed as their hero, and cheered him even after he attacked Jose Lothario and smashed HBK with a camera.
6 The Invasion Concludes - 2001
Without any of the big names that helped to build WCW, the Invasion angle wasn’t all that it was hyped up to be in any fan’s mind. The WWE still took the angle to a conclusion at the 2001 Survivor Series.
Every match featured WWE against a member of the Alliance, which led to some good matches including a cage match between the Dudley’s and the Hardys. The main event was what everyone came to see, and it didn’t disappoint - Team WWE against Alliance in a winner take all match of survival.
5 The Chamber Debuts - 2002
With the first-ever draft in full-effect, the 2002 event featured the debut of Satan’s Structure, the Elimination Chamber. Introduced in storyline by Raw GM, Eric Bischoff the first event featured Triple H defending the World Title against Chris Jericho, Booker T, Kane, RVD, and Shawn Michaels; who would go on to win what would be his final world title.
The other big match to see was the Smackdown tag team title match that saw Los Guerreros defeated the teams of Angle and Benoit; and Rey and Edge in a thriller match.
4 The Mega Powers Stand Tall - 1988
The second-ever event was also right in the middle of the Mega-Powers mania. Together, there was nothing that the Macho Man and Hulk Hogan couldn’t overcome. Now, they had Hillbilly Jim, Koko B. Ware, and Hercules to take on the Twin Towers and their team.
The night also featured another mega team survival match that saw the double turn of Demolition, betrayed by Mr. Fuji, who left them to manage the Powers Of Pain.
3 Hulkamania’s Dead - 1991
A year and five days after making his debut, the Undertaker was set to collide with champion Hulk Hogan for the first ever non-Survivor Series match. The Gravest Challenge was set in the middle of the card and saw the Deadman capture his first world title.
Ric Flair and Roddy Piper did battle with their respective teams to open the show, but the big news came from President Jack Tunney, the Macho Man would be reinstated, and a match was signed for the next PPV, which was actually one week later.
2 The First Event - 1987
At the height of Hulkamania and the WWE’s expansion era featured Hogan and Andre at WrestleMania III. The first-ever Survivor Series was the second time these two titans would clash. The WWE loaded up the card with future Hall Of Famers up and down the list on their way to creating a new event.
The Macho Man’s Team alone each had a future Hall Of Famer as a part of it, every tag team the WWE had come together for a lengthy but fun encounter. Andre was able to be the sole survivor, but since “Hogan must pose,” the sore loser came back out, decked the Giant and then preened around to the delight of the crowd.
1 Bret Vs. Diesel - 1995
The 1995 Survivor Series wasn’t a one-match show necessarily, but the main event between Bret Hart challenging for Diesel’s world title was as epic as they came at the time. Bret Hart refused to be denied on this night, even after being the first superstar ever to be introduced to the Spanish Announce Table.
The event also saw an early appearance from Goldust and the return of the Undertaker, wearing his Phantom Of The Opera mask.