Survivor Series has been a staple event on WWE’s annual calendar since 1987. One of the defining elements of the show is featuring elimination tag team matches, with groups of four or five performers coming together for a single night. Sometimes, these squads are dream teams of all star competitors whom, particularly back in the 1980s and early 1990s, fans never thought they’d see work together. Other times, they were transparent clusters of mid-card guys thrown together to serve the gimmick of the event.
Some star teams have been huge success at Survivor Series, while some have fallen surprisingly flat. Similarly, some teams with little buzz wound up surprising fans while others lived down to expectations. This list takes a look back through Survivor Series history at the five best and five worst teams of all time.
10 Greatest: DX, The Hardy Boyz, And CM Punk
Shawn Michaels and Triple H were already legends by 2006, and Matt and Jeff Hardy enjoyed elite status of their own as a tag team. CM Punk joined them as arguably the hottest prospect from ECW.
The five man unit positively dominated at Survivor Series. That they would steamroll Mike Knox, Gregory Helms, and even John Morrison, isn’t a shocker. That the unit collected a clean sweep over these heels and co-captains Edge and Randy Orton marked a historically impressive outing from a five-man team that would ultimately have Hall of Fame credentials written all over it.
9 Worst: Clowns R Us
WWE doesn’t have the best history of booking little people, and rarely did such performers get used to worse effect than at Survivor Series 1994, when Jerry Lawler captained his team against Doink the Clown’s.
Though Doink was already allied with Dink, it was Pink and Wink who donned the clown make up for the first time for this terrible four-man team. That the match was totally forgettable is little surprise. It’s notable, however, in what was ostensibly a farce, the heels not only won but did so in dominant fashion, collecting a clean sweep over the hapless clown unit.
8 Greatest: Andre the Giant, King Kong Bundy, The One Man Gang, Rick Rude, And Butch Reed
For the very first Survivor Series main event, Andre the Giant captained a truly impressive team against Hulk Hogan’s unit. In addition to Andre himself, the team featured another pair of super heavyweights in King Kong Bundy and The One Man Gang, plus a pair of heel powerhouses in Rick Rude and Butch Reed.
In an era when almost every PPV event ended with Hulk Hogan celebrating his victory, the heels actually pulled off something of an upset in winning the last match of the show. Hogan got counted out, leaving Bam Bam Bigelow as the last face standing against Andre, Bundy, and Gang. The young star put up a valiant effort, eliminating Bundy and Gang, before finally succumbing to the dominant Giant.
7 Worst: Brock Lesnar, The Big Show, A-Train, Nathan Jones, And Matt Morgan
On a superficial level, Brock Lesnar’s 2003 Survivor Series team was one of the most imposing heel units ever featured at the event, with a crew of powerhouse giants. In practice, the face team largely ran circles around them.
To be fair, the faces were a collection of past or future world champions, plus veteran Hardcore Holly (who suffered a fluke DQ elimination before the match officially got started). Nonetheless, Kurt Angle made particularly short work of Nathan Jones and Matt Morgan. It’s telling that Chris Benoit and John Cena would wind up surviving to win for the face team—a supreme technician and a budding superstar with more upside than Lesnar’s collection of monsters.
6 Greatest: The Ultimate Warrior, The Texas Tornado, And The Legion Of Doom
The Warriors offered a nod to the history of its component parts. Sure, there was The Ultimate Warrior as team captain, but in supporting roles, he had the Texas Tornado who’d previously been billed as “The Modern Day Warrior” Kerry Von Erich, and The Legion of Doom who’d built their intimidating reputation as The Road Warriors.
The Warriors team looked sensational with their killer physiques and explosive offense. It’s deceptive that only The Ultimate Warrior survived this match, though Animal and Hawk succumbed to a double disqualification schmozz, and the Tornado fell to no lesser talent than Mr. Perfect.
5 Worst: The Spirit Squad
In 2006, a legends team of Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, Ron Simmons, and Sgt. Slaughter came together to battle a crew of you upstarts in The Spirit Squad. Conventional logic would suggest that the brash young heels would get the better of the old men here.
WWE often seemed of two minds about whether it meant to push The Spirit Squad as blue chip prospects, or treat the male cheerleaders as more of a joke. The latter dynamic was in full effect here. While they held their own, Flair wound up running the table against three men at the end of this match, ultimately submitting Johnny to win for his team.
4 Greatest: Ted Dibiase, The Undertaker, The Honky Tonk Man, And Greg Valentine
At Survivor Series 1990, The Million Dollar Man promised a surprise partner for his four man team. While Ted Dibiase's other partners--The Honky Tonk Man and Greg Valentine--may have been underwhelming at that point in their WWE careers, The Dead Man made a more immediate impact.
The Undertaker was responsible for eliminating Koko B. Ware from the opposing team in under two minutes and later battled the opposing team's captain Dusty Rhodes to a double countout. This big showing, behind Dibiase's by then borderline main event status made for an all time impressive team, with The Million Dollar Man ultimately emerging the sole survivor.
3 Worst: Shane McMahon, Randy Orton, Bobby Roode, Shinsuke Nakamura, And John Cena
WWE has historically been strategic in booking Raw vs. SmackDown matches pretty evenly, in part to make sure each brand is protected. 2017 was an odd year with WWE adding top legends Triple H and John Cena to the Raw and SmackDown brands respectively, more or less out of the blue to beef up star power. Things got even odder when Raw more or less dominated.
Not only did the team win with two survivors - Triple H and Braun Strowman - but SmackDown lost even after Helmsley turned on teammate Kurt Angle to effectively eliminate him from the match. As such, the implication was clear that the blue brand's team was so ineffectual that Raw could readily weather some in-fighting and still win handily.
2 Greatest: The Rock, Chris Jericho, The Undertaker, Kane, And The Big Show
In the climax of the InVasion storyline, The Alliance challenged WWE's team. Vince McMahon's hand picked crew featured four former world champions and sure fire Hall of Fame guys, The Rock The Undertaker, Kane, and The Big Show.
The fifth man was none other than Chris Jericho, one month away from beating The Rock and Steve Austin in the same night to be crowned Undisputed Champion and begin his run as concrete main event player himself. It's a tough team for any unit from any era to ultimately compete with.
1 Worst: Shawn Michaels And His Knights
Survivor Series 1993 got messy when Jerry Lawler was pulled from the card. He had an ongoing issue with Bret Hart and his family that had led to Hart and three of this brothers taking on Lawler and four masked men, billed as his knights. When personal issues took Lawler from the show, WWE subbed in Shawn Michaels. From an in ring performance perspective, this may have been an upgrade, but HBK made no sense teaming up with knights, much less without a real storyline with the Harts.
The bout did what it was supposed to, in giving Bret and company a big win, while planting the seeds for a feud between him and Owen. Michaels and his team were mere cannon fodder, though, for the Hart boys—two of whom weren’t even WWE wrestlers—to run through them.