WWE Survivor Series, like any gimmick PPV, is built around the Survivor Series match. It is the show’s biggest selling point and has set it apart from others on the WWE schedule. The match has provided for some great moments in the show’s history, and just about everyone who is anyone had participated in the game of survival.
The match itself is the selling point, yes, but that doesn’t mean it is the only great thing about the show. As WWE has moved away from a card dominated by the survivor series match, it has produced some fantastic singles encounters. One’s that, despite having great wrestlers in them, haven’t stood out on the card. Below are some of the hidden gems of the WWE Survivor Series.
Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels (Survivor Series 1992)
Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart had one of the most infamous matches in wrestling history at the 1997 edition, but that was not their first. Five years prior, they put on a fantastic main event, which was also for the WWE Championship.
Bret had just started out as champion, and Shawn was still a burgeoning heel, but that didn’t stop them from developing some great chemistry. It was one of their first singles matches against each other, and one would not be faulted for thinking they had years in the ring together. The action was great, and it presented a refreshing change from the battles the WWE Championship had seen.
The Undertaker vs. Mankind (Survivor Series 1996)
Mankind and The Undertaker had some brutal battles during their feud. Boiler Room Brawls, Buried Alive Matches, and, of course, the infamous Hell in a Cell are some of the most notable. What gets lost in all the hustle was a great match at Survivor Series.
With Paul Bearer suspended above the ring, The Undertaker and Mankind engaged in one heck of a knockdown drag-out fight. Wrestling was not the de jour of this match, as they gave the fans an incredibly physical contest that was a precursor of what was to come.
Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin (Survivor Series 1996)
Like The Undertaker and Mankind, Steve Austin and Bret have had some tremendous matches against one another. Also, like The Undertaker and Mankind, they engaged in a great under-the-radar match at the Survivor Series.
Bret and Austin were master technicians. They put on one of the best pure wrestling matches that have ever taken place. There was no stipulation attached to it, but that helped to highlight the action that was going on inside the ring. It had a familiar finish from Hart’s career, but it was still creative and a great way to preserve both men going forward.
CM Punk vs. Alberto Del Rio (Survivor Series 2011)
CM Punk, while having a lengthy reign as WWE Champion, was never booked well. During his reign, he was routinely put lower on the card in favor of other matches, this wonderful match against Alberto Del Rio being one of the biggest culprits.
Punk was the hottest act in the company, and having him face the Mexican Aristocrat was a great idea. The two represented opposite ends of what the fans wanted. They played well off this dichotomy, and it made Punks triumph all the more glorious. It was CM Punks night and the start of his record-setting reign. A reign that, very much like that night, was upstaged by just about every main event star that WWE could produce.
The Miz vs. Sami Zayn (Survivor Series 2016)
We were deep into brand warfare in 2016. Raw and SmackDown competed in every match at the Survivor Series, with an Intercontinental Championship tilt being one of the best.
The Miz and Sami Zayn were perfect combatants for the match. Zayn was still in his underdog babyface role, and The Miz was at the height of his heel character work. It was a simple premise but one that has worked for decades. The crowd was into the match the whole face as Zayn fought his butt off to bring the IC strap over to Raw.
The finish was akin to a screw job, but it worked in the grand scheme of things. It put more sympathy on Zayn while heaping loads of heat in the Intercontinental Champion.
Shane McMahon vs. Kane (Survivor Series 2003)
Kane was deep into his new monster heel role when he went up against Shane McMahon. He had been terrorizing the McMahon family for months, and the eldest son had had enough. This set up an Ambulance Match that was an absolute car wreck, pun intended.
Kane and Shane McMahon put on one heck of a show. Not all wrestling matches need to have great wrestling to be entertaining, and they proved it. They took every weapon they could and beat each other down. It was exactly what one would want from an Ambulance Match.
Naturally, with Shane being involved, there were some huge spots that made us wonder if the boy wonder had a death wish. It added a must-see element to the contest, one that we should all look at.
Bret Hart vs. Diesel (Survivor Series 1995)
Diesel didn’t exactly have a great reign as champion. His character work was fine, but he didn’t have a ton of great matches. This is why it is strange that his match against Bret Hart is one that isn’t remembered that often.
Bret Hart was known for bringing the best out of his opponents, and boy did he on that night. Diesel and Hart had a great technical match that devolved into a brawl. It used the best skills of both men and told a captivating story of Bret trying to chop down the big man.
The eventual shock win, followed by a slight heel turn by Diesel, was a great way to finish off the story that was told on that November night.
Bray Wyatt vs. Dean Ambrose (Survivor Series 2014)
After costing Dean Ambrose his Hell in a Cell blow-off match against Seth Rollins, Bray Wyatt drew the ire of the Lunatic Fringe. It was a great idea to put the two men together, and we got to see why with their under-the-radar encounter at the WWE Survivor Series.
Both men were known for their brawling style of wrestling. It was what set them apart from other workers, and it was what also made this match fantastic. This was not a wrestling match; it was a fight. Wyatt and Ambrose utilized every high-impact move imaginable as they beat each other from pillar to post. There was nothing flashy about what went on, but it was still captivating nonetheless.
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