Survivor Series: 5 more matches from the PPV’s history worth a look

DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 08: Special guest referee Bret "The Hitman" Hart during the WWE Smackdown Live Tour at Westridge Park Tennis Stadium on July 08, 2011 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 08: Special guest referee Bret "The Hitman" Hart during the WWE Smackdown Live Tour at Westridge Park Tennis Stadium on July 08, 2011 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images/Getty Images) /

The 2021 Survivor Series is only a few days away, and while WWE has dedicated a level of promotional focus to the show that makes you wonder whether the company forgot the show was on the calendar, that doesn’t take away from the robust history of the company’s second-oldest supercard.

As shown in an earlier piece, that history contains plenty of classic matches that are well worth your time. Of course, a show that’s been around for as long as Survivor Series has more than just a handful of great matches under its banner.

So, let’s take a look at some more of these memorable bouts.

These are five more Survivor Series matches that are worth checking out.

Triple H (c) vs. Kane vs. Chris Jericho vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Booker T vs. Shawn Michaels- Elimination Chamber match (World Heavyweight Championship) (2002)

In kayfabe, then-Raw general manager Eric Bischoff created this match to one-up SmackDown after the Brock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker Hell in a Cell match at No Mercy 2002. Aside from that, booking this made storyline sense in that most of the wrestlers in the Elimination Chamber had beef with World Heavyweight Champion Triple H, which he had held since Bischoff handed him the belt in September (starting the Reign of Terror).

Fans had no reason to doubt that the wrestlers involved in this wouldn’t work to make this inaugural match a success, but without a reference point for something like the Elimination Chamber made it hard to know what to expect.

Once the bell sounded, however, any concerns quickly washed away. The wrestlers made good use of the structure in a way that put over its potential for creativity and danger (like when Jericho reached through the top of the pod and yanked Rob Van Dam’s leg through the chainlink roof or when Van Dam grabbed onto the chain walls like Spider-Man).

Ultimately, though, this match was about two people: Triple H and Shawn Michaels. This was only Michaels’ second match back from a four-year retirement — the first was his SummerSlam 2002 classic against Helmsley — and here he had his chance to notch another win over his then-former best friend (in storyline) and also the World Title.

Michaels and “The Game” putting together another outstanding stanza to their otherwise self-aggrandizing feud is a big reason why this is still the best Elimination Chamber match of all time.

AJ Styles vs. Brock Lesnar- Champion vs. Champion match (2017)

No matter how you feel about WWE making Survivor Series a brand vs. brand PPV, it’s worth noting that the format has led to some fun dream matches, even if those matches weren’t in the original plans.

WWE originally advertised that Brock Lesnar — the Universal Champion at the time — would face then-WWE Champion Jinder Mahal (man, remember when he was WWE Champion?) at the 2017 Survivor Series.

Once WWE realized that putting Lesnar in what would’ve been a glorified squash against a former enhancement talent who lacked credibility as a main eventer, though, they wisely had Styles beat Mahal for the belt, which set the stage for a now-anticipated meeting with “The Beast”.

This went exactly how you’d hope a Lesnar vs. Styles match would go, as the Universal Champ used his size to overpower the WWE Champ. The big man/little man dynamic led to a number of memorable spots, including Lesnar dribbling Styles’ head like a basketball to escape the Calf Crusher, and made for a simple-but-effective story. They also got in some great nearfalls that made you think for a second that something other than the inevitable would happen.

That inevitable was Lesnar pinning Styles after catching Styles in mid-air and delivering an F-5, a nice capper to a fantastic match.

Bret Hart (c) vs. Shawn Michaels- WWF Championship match (1992)

That’s right, 1997 wasn’t the only time Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart faced each other at Survivor Series. Five years prior, the two Hall of Famers battled for the WWF Championship in a match that featured…uh, slightly less controversy.

Also, the build to this was quaint compared to the animosity these two would eventually have for one another; Michaels did what Hart couldn’t do — beat The British Bulldog for the Intercontinental Championship — and planned on carrying that momentum to a win over Hart for the WWF Title.

So yeah, the build isn’t exactly what we saw with, for example, CM Punk and Eddie Kingston in All Elite Wrestling, but…well, it’s Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart. That alone should let you know how outstanding this match was, made even more amazing by the fact that the biggest highspot in this match was a dropkick. These two didn’t need the flash to create something special.

Between Michaels’ selling and sly heel tricks (like the hair pull spot early in the match), the early story of Hart knowing every counter for whatever Michaels tried early on, and the constant near-comeback-cutoff sequences that built the fans’ anticipation for the actual comeback, these two crafted a great match that especially stood out in the early ’90s WWF.

Brock Lesnar vs. Daniel Bryan- Champion vs. Champion match (2018)

One year following their aforementioned classic at the 2017 Survivor Series, it appeared that Brock Lesnar and AJ Styles would run it back at the 2018 edition. However, much like they did with Jinder Mahal, WWE decided to change things up at the last moment.

As a result, Styles was replaced by the man who beat him for the WWE Championship: Daniel Bryan, who turned heel en route to winning the belt. This meant that fans would finally get to see the Bryan/Lesnar match that they had waited years for.

Despite the heel/heel dynamic, Bryan and Lesnar stuck to the big/small formula that worked so well in the Lesnar vs. Styles match to great effect. The opening few minutes where Lesnar ragdolls Bryan fed well to the WWE Champion’s eventual comeback, as it hooked the crowd in once Bryan strung together some viable offense (Bryan also shrewdly frames Lesnar’s early assault as essentially beating the babyface out of him, smart storytelling there).

As if his nascent run in AEW hasn’t already cemented this already, this further showed how great Bryan is and proved how good Lesnar is in these big matches.

Bret Hart vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (1996)

I’ve recommended this match in a prior piece, so I’ll keep this as brief as possible, but this offering from Hart and Steve Austin in 1996 served as an excellent teaser for the submission match they would have at WrestleMania 13.

That match is a masterpiece, but this one — which was a little more scientific than what these two would do in the spring of 1997 — isn’t too far behind, which is impressive considering that this was Hart’s first match since WrestleMania XII.

Even though this round went to “The Hitman”, the match gave Austin — who didn’t get much to do following his King of the Ring win and famous “Austin 3:16” promo — some credibility. Right down to the finish, he was presented as Hart’s in-ring equal, as “The Excellence of Execution” escaped after countering the Million Dollar Dream with a rollup (aka the finish WWE now uses over and over again to “protect” Shayna Baszler).

dark. Next. WWE: 2021 Survivor Series Preview and Predictions

So, as was said in the previous piece, go out of your way to check this one out.