When WWE created the Survivor Series in 1987, it was a pretty cool idea, as it was something fresh, new and revolutionary for the company at the time. Guys divided up into teams to face off to eliminate each other. It was a notable bit, carrying on various feuds, giving guys some good time to push themselves and an exciting thing to watch. It has changed over the years from nothing but elimination matches to only one or two on a show. However, the Survivor Series remains one of the best of WWE PPVs and has given some great excitement, despite many believing it shouldn't be considered as one of the WWE's 'big four' pay-per-views.
Over the years, there have been a lot of great Survivor Series teams, with a mix of amazing stars who went at it in battles you wouldn’t expect. There has been the downside, however, teams that never should have been formed, who put on horrible matches and just didn’t work. Here are 8 of the best Survivor Series teams of all time and seven who were among the worst to show the best and worst of this classic show.
15 Awesome: Team Powers of Pain
One of the most notable bits of the first two Survivor Series shows was the tag-team match where five teams formed as partners. Thus, you would see two guys in the ring with another 18 hanging on the apron watching and when one guy was eliminated, so was his partner. For ’88, the Powers of Pain led the Rockers, The British Bulldogs, the Hart Foundation and the Young Stallions. Those were five of the best teams in WWE at the time and watching Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart on the same side was something pretty notable.
The match was a good one and notable for the amazing double turn as Mr. Fuji turned on Demolition to eliminate them. He then allied with the Powers to help them win and turn them heel. However, that doesn’t take away from how the Powers led a great gathering of tag teams that shows how strong the division was back then.
14 Terrible: Shawn Michaels and His Knights
For the summer of 1993, Bret Hart had been in a feud with Jerry Lawler. The King played up the heel wonderfully as he attacked Bret and insulted his family. So it made sense that for the Survivor Series, Bret would get brothers Owen, Bruce and Keith to join him fighting Lawler and three masked Knights. But a few weeks before the show, Lawler was arrested for charges of sex with a minor (they were later dropped) so Shawn Michaels was suddenly put into the role.
This sudden change marred the entire bout with the Knights (revealed since to be Jeff Gaylord, Barry Horowitz and, believe it or not, Greg Valentine) and Michaels not getting along well. It is ironic, given their later heat, for Michaels and Bret to be thrown against each other but that didn’t salvage the bout. Owen was the only Hart pinned to push his heel turn as Shawn decided to just walk out on his teammates and get counted out. Granted, a last minute substitution, but still a bad team with Michaels a rough fit with them.
13 Awesome: The Warriors
In terms of names, you can’t get better than this. The Ultimate Warrior, the WWE champion at the time; Kerry von Erich, going by the Texas Tornado but also known as the Modern-Day Warrior, the IC champ; and the Legion of Doom, formerly the Road Warriors. Their promos alone were terrific as they faced the Perfect Team of Mr. Perfect and Demolition, all four beefy muscle guys who were over with the crowds. Of course, conditioning wasn’t quite the best so it's no surprise the bout only lasted 15 minutes. However, it was still notable to watch four of the biggest stars joining together on a team to smash up the opposition, the crowd popping big for power moves and the Warrior victorious to push himself as champ. A good showing of how the Series can get big names together.
12 Terrible: Team Moolah
The 1999 Survivor Series is one of the poorest with bad bouts and the bit of Stone Cold Steve Austin run over by a car, paving the way for The Big Show to win the title. The Women’s match may be the low point, however. You had a strong team of Ivory, Luna Vachon, Jacqueline and Terri Runnels against…Mae Young, The Fabulous Moolah, Debra and Tori. The now 70-year-old legends were getting a bad run with Mae pushed as a randy senior citizen with the infamous “pregnancy” angle. Debra was little more than eye candy at her best, not a good worker at all and just posing around. Tori wasn’t too bad but still just there for the looks, not anything special.
True, several ladies’ teams have been poor through the years (“Team Total Divas” comes to mind) but this was still very wretched, the match a painful sight and as poor a showing for the ladies of WWE as you can imagine.
11 Awesome: Team Savage
For the very first Series, this match had some great star power to it. You had Randy Savage, Ricky Steamboat, Jake Roberts, Jim Duggan and Brutus Beefcake on one side against Honky Tonk Man and some allies. Savage, Steamboat and Roberts alone made a formidable team, all three top workers who knew how to put on a great match together. Duggan and Beefcake weren’t too bad either to push the team along and the fans were on their side all the way.
The faces managed to whittle the heels down with great moves, working together well and handling the match to show how the elimination format worked. It came down to Honky against Savage, Steamboat and Roberts and after a harsh beating, he decided to just flee and get counted out. In other words, HTM decided to run rather than risk facing these three, a good statement on how great a team they were.
10 Terrible: Hercules, Col Mustafa, The Berzerker and Skinner
The 1991 Survivor Series made history as the first one to have bouts other than elimination matches. It was also filled with some rather rough matches as evidenced by this bout. Jim Neidhart was to lead the team but replaced by Sgt. Slaughter with Jim Duggan, Kerry von Erich and Tito Santana (as El Matador). Their opponents were Col Mustafa (the Iron Sheik), Skinner and Hercules. Paul Roma was to join but was fired from the company so The Berzerker took his place. Hardly what one would call an imposing team to say the least as these were guys you saw losing plenty of times on TV. The heels had no chemistry together, a mess battling it out and pairing three jobbers with Mustafa was just poor thinking. They were easily picked off to allow the faces to win and posed no threat at all. The match is often ranked among the worst in Series history and shows how mixing guys at random rarely works.
9 Awesome: The Shield/Real Americans
The 2013 Series had only two real elimination matches, one of which was a terrible Divas one. But the other ranks among the best in Survivor Series history as the Shield teamed up with the Real Americans to face Cody Rhodes, Goldust, Rey Mysterio and the Usos. The Shield were really taking off with the tag titles and US belt and were all establishing themselves as future stars on the rise. Cesaro and Swagger made a good team and teaming up with the Shield just made them more impressive. The two teams worked well together, the Shield unloading on their offense while Cesaro was impressive swinging guys around and the flow of eliminations was well paced.
It ended with Reigns as the sole survivor, the first sign of WWE’s push for him but the team itself was well stacked to highlight an otherwise rough Series card.
8 Terrible: British Bulldog and Mean Street Posse
Davey Boy Smith’s return to WWE in 1999 was not a good one. Smith was still recovering from his devastating back injury suffered in WCW a year before. This not only got him hooked on painkillers but forced him to wear jeans to cover leg braces and he looked off in his ring work. His pushes included the Hardcore Title and facing Triple H but his bad condition hurt his drive and his sour attitude rubbed folks the wrong way. At the Survivor Series, he was teamed with the Mean Street Posse, the nutty trio set up as prep school thugs.
The look on Smith’s face coming out with them said it all, as the match against Val Venis, Steve Blackman, Gangrel and Mark Henry was a poor one with Smith double-teamed at the end to eat finishers from Venis and Henry to lose. It was truly sad to see this once great worker reduced to such a rough end and why this year was not a good one for WWE.
7 Awesome: Team WWE
The 2001 Survivor Series was the culmination of the Invasion, an angle many fans hate to remember. However, it did have a great send-off as WWE went at it with the Alliance in a major “winner take all” fight. For the WWE side, you had The Rock, The Undertaker, Kane, The Big Show and Chris Jericho together. That’s a team with a hell of a lot of star power, more than enough to fight the Alliance off and they proved it with the match. All five had worked together in the past as partners and opponents so they knew how to put on a good match.
The battle was a major affair with Shane McMahon eating finishers from the faces before getting pinned and plenty of hot brawling. It all culminated with Kurt Angle turning on the Alliance, allowing The Rock to pin Steve Austin and let WWE win. Many complain about the Invasion blowing such a sure thing angle but at least it had a good finish with a great team to represent WWE.
6 Terrible: Clowns R Us
Oh this one was bad. In 1994, Jerry Lawler entered into a feud with Doink the Clown, packed with bad matches and terrible promos. Fans hated it but few knew it was going to get far, far worse. Doink already had his little sidekick Dink with him and soon added Pink and Wink, fellow little guys in clown outfits. Lawler responded by getting his own band of little sidekicks called Sleazy, Queasy and Cheesy. So you had Doink and three tiny clown coming out, not looking as anything more than bad comedy abounding. Calling the match painful is too kind to it, as it was a mess of sloppy fighting, slapstick angles, horrible humor and the fans booed it loudly.
The fact the Clowns all ended up eliminated while Lawler’s team didn’t suffer a loss just made it look even worse. It ended with Lawler winning but insulting his team and thus they hit him in the face with a pie. A wretched match and a horrible sign of how clowns and wrestling rarely mix.
5 Awesome: Team DX
In 2006, Shawn Michaels and Triple H reformed D-Generation X, just the two of them driving Vince McMahon crazy. It picked up with a feud with Edge and Randy Orton forming Rated RKO and it made a great program. DX added to their ranks with the Hardyz and CM Punk to forge an incredible group. You had five guys who knew how to hold a main event spot, two of them future World champions and all five knowing how to blow fans away in the ring. The match was a letdown, running barely 12 minutes when they could have gone far longer but the sight of the guys on DX’s side was still damn impressive. While the match could have been longer, at least we got a great team of some of WWE’s best of the year mixing well together.
4 Terrible: The Alliance
The 1990 edition of the Survivor Series wasn’t among the best, despite the fun idea of the various survivors meeting in a special main event. Among the various lower-card bouts was The Alliance against the Mercenaries, led by Sgt. Slaughter with Boris Zhukov and the Orient Express. The Alliance was Tito Santana, Nikolai Volkoff and The Bushwhackers, an ad hoc team if there was one. They didn’t mix well at all, rough together as they failed to gel and less a team than just a bunch of guys thrown together.
They were a mess fighting it out and the match was probably the worst on the card. In the end, it came to Tito and Slaughter and Tito didn’t even win clean, as Slaughter was disqualified for using a flagpole on him. It was a bad fight and the Alliance looked like total losers in the end to rank among the worst teams in Series history.
3 Awesome: The Radicalz
Many claim this was one of the final nails in the coffin of WCW. After being massively held back and pushed aside by management in the company, Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero and Perry Saturn finally had enough and walked out. They joined WWE and were pushed quickly, all four holding gold in 2000. So it made sense to have them rejoin for the Survivor Series, taking on Billy Gunn, Road Dogg, Chyna and K-Kwik. Given how well the four had worked as both partners and opponents over the years, it’s no shock the Radicalz were top notch and dominated the match.
The bout was short as this “New DX” didn’t really click as well but the Radicalz were great through it all. It ended with Benoit and Saturn winning and proving how bad a mistake WCW made letting them go as all four were truly fantastic workers.
2 Terrible: The Four Doinks
In 1993, Bam Bam Bigelow found himself getting into a feud with Doink, the formerly evil clown who was now a fan favorite. For the Series, Bigelow teamed with Bastion Booger and the Headshrinkers to face Doink and his team, expected to be some guys in clown suits. Instead, out came the Bushwhackers and the rap duo Men on a Mission, all done up in white makeup and green wigs. Both teams were a strange mix of rough talent and throwing themselves into pure comedy. The “match” was a horrible one with antics out of a Three Stooges flick (at one point, Vince openly calls on commentary “this is a cartoon!”) and the crowd not liking the bait and switch of Doink not showing up.
The Doinks all won and the real one showed up on screen to mock Bigelow (who had no business being in a feud this ridiculous) and spraying Luna with water. Truly horrific to watch and it showed how much of a joke it all was.
1 Awesome: The Hulkamaniacs
Hulk Hogan got a lot of use out of that name, using it for various teams he commanded over the years. For the 1989 Series (where the matches became four on four), Hogan got a pretty good team together. There was himself, the WWE champion and the biggest star around. With him were Demolition, the tag team champions at the time and Jake Roberts, a good mix of skill and power. They faced the Million Dollar team of Ted DiBiase, Zeus and the Powers of Pain. Zeus was disqualified fast for shoving the ref and automatically made the match better by his absence.
The Demos were taking out opponents, but then the Powers got disqualified for attacking Hogan. Roberts was beaten after a distraction, so naturally Hogan ended up the victor. Still, it was a great team of top champions and major faces to give the show a nice build and show how, at his height, Hogan was the biggest star of the company.