This Sunday WWE will celebrate the 30th anniversary of Survivor Series. After WrestleMania it's the longest running pay-per-view in the company. Even SummerSlam and the Royal Rumble weren't added to WWE's calendar until the year after the first ever Survivor Series in 1987. While the three other events that make up WWE's Big Four have selling points and are always viewed as a big deal, Survivor Series lost that element somewhat in the past. WWE have done their level best to change that and they have unquestionably had some success by doing so. Part of it is by having a marquee match at the event each year - Brock Lesnar versus Goldberg last year, The Beast up against A.J. Styles this Sunday - and an equally big part is by making the Survivor Series elimination matches mean something again. Raw and SmackDown Live pitting their best Superstars against one another does that. Those multi-person tag matches have been a part of Survivor Series ever since the inaugural PPV in 1987, but which Superstars have been survivors more than anyone else?
Let's start off with somebody everyone was probably expecting to see on this list, John Cena. The 16-time World Champion was added to Team SmackDown recently and will compete this coming Sunday at Survivor Series. Cena will fancy his chances too. Not only does he have a pretty good return in traditional Survivor Series matches, surviving until the very end three times, but his overall record at the November PPV is eight wins and just one loss. It's quite surprising that Cena doesn't have an even better record than just three survivals in the event's tag matches as all of those survivals happened very early on. He and Chris Benoit were the sole survivors on Team Angle in 2003, a year later Cena was left standing alongside Big Show and Eddie Guerrero, and then in 2006 he captained his own team and stood tall once the dust had settled with Bobby Lashley.
Being a giant in WWE can be both a blessing and a curse. On the bright side Vince McMahon will likely fall in love with you and if you play your cards right you have a career for life. On the down side you'll likely make it to the level below the very top, but not spend a lot of time any higher. You'll likely be used to boost a smaller star to that level instead. Take Big Show for instance. He has had a long and terrific career in WWE, but he's never been the guy. He has been a survivor in a Survivor Series match though, three times. We covered one above in the John Cena entry. Impressively he was the sole survivor in a match where he was a one man team in 1999, defeating Mideon, Prince Albert, Viscera and Big Boss Man in under 90 seconds. The third and final time came when he and Rey Mysterio were the last men standing for Team Mysterio.
Despite not being at the very top of this list, Randy Savage might have enjoyed one of the greatest runs in history when it comes to Survivor Series elimination matches. Before he won King of the Ring in 1989 and dubbed himself the Macho King, he started his path on becoming the king of the Survivor Series match. At the first ever event the entire card was made up of multi-man tag matches. Randy was in the first match of the night - so the first Survivor Series elimination tag match ever - and survived along with Jake Roberts and Ricky Steamboat. A year later Macho Man was in the night's main event and survived along with Hulk Hogan. Then as the Macho King, Savage survived for a third year in a row, heading up his own team dubbed The King's Court. The Canadian Earthquake and Dino Bravo survived also.
Naturally anything Randy Savage could do, Hulk Hogan could do better. Not only did The Hulkster survive grueling multi-person Survivor Series matches for three years in a row, but just to one up the Macho Man on that third year he survived two in the same night. As touched upon above the first one came in 1988 alongside Savage. Then a year later he did it again but that time he was all by himself. Hogan headed up a team named The Hulkamaniacs and took down Ted Dibiase's Million Dollar Team. In 1990 Hogan again assembled a Hulkamaniacs team, and again he was the only survivor. Later that same night Hulk teamed with Ultimate Warrior and Tito Santana - who had both also won Survivor Series style matches that evening - and together the three of them took down another team of five men. Hogan and Warrior were the last men standing.
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Nobody has survived more Survivor Series elimination matches than Randy Orton. The first of his five survivals came all the way back in 2003. Orton was a part of Team Bischoff and picked up the win against Team Austin with a helping hand from an interfering Batista. The next year Orton was afforded his very own team, and for the second year in a row he was the last man standing. In 2005 The Apex Predator joined an exclusive club by becoming a survivor for three straight years. Orton couldn't make it four in a row though. The next time he survived an elimination match at Survivor Series came in 2008 when he and Cody Rhodes outlasted everyone to defeat Team Batista. Then last year as a part of the Wyatt Family, he and Bray were the sole survivors for Team SmackDown. Orton will wrestle for the blue brand once again this Sunday and could make it six survivals, further cementing his legacy as the best Survivor Series match Superstar ever.
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