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Survivor Series: 5 Reasons The WWE Event Is One Of My Favorite Nights Each Year

The Rock (as Rocky Maivia) makes his WWE debut at Survivor Series 1996
(Image credit: WWE)

Every November, going back to when I was a kid trying in vain to convince my parents to fork over $29.95 for a wrestling pay-per-view when Christmas was only a month away, I’ve had a love of WWE Survivor Series. 

In the decades since being forced to settle for a second-hand retelling on the playground, I have held parties for Survivor Series (where there were equal amounts of booze and wrestling), attended the event live (the year Sting started his short-lived WWE run), and watched it on WWE Network on my phone while acting like I’m having stomach trouble at an early Thanksgiving gathering. Basically, for as long as I can remember, Survivor Series has been one of my favorite wrestling nights of the year, and I just have to tell somebody about it…

The Team WWF vs. Team Alliance match card at Survivor Series 2001

(Image credit: WWE)

I Love The Traditional Survivor Series Tag Matches And Their Sometimes Random Pairings

What set Survivor Series apart from other wrestling events on the then-WWF’s annual calendar was the show’s focus on the Survivor Series elimination match, which typically saw five-person teams competing against one another until there was a “Sole Survivor.” And, while the matches have sometimes been a part of iconic WWE moments and major storylines like the 2001 Invasion angle or Team Raw vs. Team SmackDown in 2017 (both of which led to amazing matches), it isn’t always the case, and that’s okay. In fact, some of the random pairings make the event all the more fun.

I mean, where else are you going to see a team consisting of Jake Roberts, Marc Mero, The Stalker, and Rocky Maivia (long before Dwayne Johnson was the king of the box office) take on Jerry Lawler, Goldust, Crush, and Hunter Hearst Helmsley before he re-branded himself Triple H? Sometimes it’s faces wrestling heels, Americans wrestling Canadians, or the first five guys to walk out of the locker room wrestling five superstars who are just as random. It’s wacky and I’m all about it.

Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart following the Montreal Screwjob at Survivor Series 1997

(Image credit: WWE)

Some Of WWE’s Most Iconic Moments Have Gone Down At Survivor Series

In terms of iconic moments, there are few WWE shows that can stand toe-to-toe with Survivor Series. The November show may not get as much love as the other members of the “Big Four” (Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, SummerSlam) these days, but a few of the biggest moments (both good and bad) have gone down at the annual event. 

In 1997, fans witnessed one of the most infamous wrestling incidents of all time with the Montreal Screwjob in which Shawn Michaels submitted WWF Champion Bret Hart, even though Hart, who had one foot out the door, never tapped out. Five years later, the first Elimination Chamber match was held at Survivor Series, kicking off one of the most recognizable match-types still used by WWE. In 2011, The Rock made his return to the ring after a seven-year absence, and set off the long-standing John Cena vs. The Rock feud.

These moments, and others like CM Punk starting his 434-day WWE Championship reign, make Survivor Series feel like a BIG DEAL each year. It’s the level of excitement going in the Sunday before Thanksgiving that help make it such a fun event to watch live.

Team Raw and Team SmackDown face off at Survivor Series 2017.

(Image credit: WWE)

Survivor Series Is The Perfect Way To Highlight WWE’s Different Brands

Up until AEW really took off within the past couple of years, WWE didn’t have any believable form of competition (sorry, TNA/Impact) going back to the company’s March 2001 purchase of former rival WCW. To add some competition during the Ruthless Aggression era (even if it was artificial), WWE split its roster into the Raw and SmackDown brands, a move the company made again later in 2016. With the second incarnation of the Brand Split, WWE made Survivor Series a place where the best of each respective show can face off against one another with various elimination tag matches and one-on-one encounters between brand champions.

This was especially the case in November 2019, when Survivor Series included members of the Raw, SmackDown, and NXT rosters in matches ranging from interbrand battle royals to five-on-five elimination tag matches that gave some of the up-and-coming talent a chance to shine on the big stage. Then there was the time we got to see Brock Lesnar and Daniel Bryan, the world champions of their respective brands, put on a clinic in 2018.

The Undertaker standing in the ring during his debut match at Survivor Series 1990

(Image credit: WWE)

Also, there are all the memorable debuts that have taken place at Survivor Series over the years. The Undertaker (who retired at the event 30 years after making his debut there), The Rock, Kurt Angle, and Sting have all made their first appearance on WWE TV at Survivor Series, and that is just scratching the surface. 

But, one of the biggest debuts within the past decade was the November 2012 surprise arrival of The Shield, who helped CM Punk beat Ryback to retain his WWE Championship. In the years following the stable’s debut, each of its members have won just about every title in the company and have headlined event after event. Hell, Roman Reigns, who debuted with the group, is the hottest thing in pro wrestling in years.

One thing I can’t leave out here is the debut of the Gobbledy Gooker at Survivor Series 1990, who is remembered for all the wrong reasons. Though, I’ll be damned if this isn’t an iconic WWE moment.

The Undertaker puts the Tombstone Piledriver on Hulk Hogan at Survivor Series 1991

(Image credit: WWE)

There Is A Level Of Unpredictability At Survivor Series That Makes It A Must-Watch

Overall, Survivor Series has a level of unpredictability and buzz surrounding it each year that makes it so you just can’t afford to miss it, even if you are a lapsed wrestling fan. The debuts, the returns, the Gobbledy Gooker, and just everything about the pre-Thanksgiving event make three hours of wrestling fly by and leave you eager to see what happens when the Road to WrestleMania picks up just two months later.

I mean, we are talking about the event where The Undertaker, who was just one year removed from his debut, defeated a still very much in his prime Hulk Hogan to capture his first WWE Championship, after all. Hell, there are even some truly unpredictable moments, like the time Enzo Amore caused a scene in the crowd not long after being fired from the company.

Hopefully, the upcoming WWE Survivor Series will follow the tradition of having great matches and unforgettable moments that we’ll be talking about in the future, even if it exposes this whole Charlotte Flair situation as one elaborate work.

Philip Sledge

Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop yelling at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.