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30 Years of Survivor Series Part 2: Transitional Pains

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Well, after a longer-than-expected delay, I'm back to cover some more Survivor Series as we inch our way to the 30th edition. This time, we're covering 1992 through 1996, so yes, that does include the god-awful New Generation era. Will the shows be as bad as this era was?

Let's find out!

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We start with Survivor Series 1992, once again coming from Cleveland, OH. This one played with the format that we all know today (and of course, that format showcases every match type except for the traditional elimination match). It also holds the distinction for running the first-ever casket match on a WWE PPV....oh boy, we're gonna talk about that one a bit...

But first, let's start with The Headshrinkers vs High Energy (Owen Hart and Koko B. Ware). Honestly, I don't have many comments for this one other than it was a pretty fun match. Owen was starting to get himself into gear here, and it showed. Nothing more other than a Headshrinker victory.

Next was Big Boss Man vs Nailz in a "nightstick on a pole match. Two things off the bat: Nailz sounds incredibly constipated during his promo, and Vince Russo must have been moonlighting as a booker in 1992. Although this match's story was pretty far into stupid territory, it was decent. In the end, Nailz fought the law, but the law won.

After this was Tatanka vs Rick Martel in a longer match than you would expect. That said, it was actually pretty fun. Tatanka won and got his beloved feather back, so all was right with the world.

Next was one of the marquee matches of this show: Razor Ramon and Ric Vlair vs Randy Savage and...Mr Perfect(?!?). Before this match, the segment was aired in which Savage selected Perfect as his partner, infuriating Bobby Heenan, who slapped Perfect - this didn't go very well for Heenan as Perfect delivered some good babyface fire.

This build gave the match some good heat that was only intensified when OH MY GOD FLAIR AND PERFECT ARE FACING OFF!!! This, however, was the second best moment of the match because HOLY SHIT FLAIR AND SAVAGE ARE FIGHTING (seriously, their match at WrestleMania VIII is such an overlooked match). At one point, Savage was bloodied and was getting pummeled. Perfect teased leaving SO hard, but he came back to stick with his man. The match ended with a disappointing DQ, but it helped to further the feud quite a bit and also to establish Mr. Perfect as a babyface going forward.

What had to follow this? Yokozuna vs Virgil. You can probably guess how this one ended.

Next was the only traditional elimination match of the evening featuring The Nasty Boys and The Natural Disasters vs Money Inc. and The Beverly Brothers. Very boring match that the babyfaces won.

The first ever casket match was next featuring Undertaker vs Kamala. This match was absolutely terrible, and remains one of the worst matches in Survivor Series history. Undertaker won, but I am so worse off for witnessing this mess.

Main eventing this show was Shawn Michaels vs Bret Hart in the first match in what would become both a classic and infamous feud. However, this first match? Unfortunately, you would expect it to be more exciting, which it wasn't. You see, in 1992, Michaels was in the early stages of a singles career, so he was still in a transitional stage. Therefore, you could tell that he wasn't exactly in "five star match with a broom" stage. Bret did some good carrying, but this match was a fairly boring schlepp that Bret won with the sharpshooter.

Although it deviated from the old Survivor Series formula, this was a pretty decent show, so it gets a B-

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Next up was Survivor Series 1993, coming from Boston, MA, and lo-and-behold, we're mainly back to traditional elimination matches. Unfortunately, this show should be eliminated from history - it was not a very good showing...

First up was a traditional elimination match featuring Razor Ramon, Randy Savage, Marty Jannetty, and 1-2-3 Kid vs IRS, Diesel, Rick Martel, and Adam Bomb. Savage's appearance was a surprise, but was cut short when Crush came out to distract him, leading to the distraction roll-up. Other than that, this match was just ok, but ended somewhat abruptly with a roll-up from Jannetty. Another thing that's notable about this one is that Diesel was the first to be elimination, and in quick fashion. Far cry from where he would be in a little over a year...

Next was The Hart Family vs Shawn Michaels and Knights. This was billed as a big family feud match, so why not hype the hell out of it by bringing on then-Family Feud host Ray Combs to play both ring announcer (just ok) and commentator (god-awful). Honestly, this match was much worse than you would think - I think I recall nearly passing out a couple times during it. The Harts win, but the iconic feud between Bret and Owen starts when Owen inadvertently knocks Bret off  the apron, leading to the former's elimination. After the match, Bret and Owen trade words...I think you know where this goes.

James T Cornette is next, and he brings some Smoky Mountain Wrestling to the Boston Garden with The Heavenly Bodies vs The Rock 'n' Roll Express. This match was a very fun match that kinda fell apart toward the end. The Heavenly Bodies won, but the crowd couldn't care less...such a shame.

Unfortunately, following some SMW would be Four Doinks vs some heels. This was a dumpster fire that the Doinks won. I have no reason to give this match any more time.

Main eventing this were The All-American vs The Foreign Fanatics (featuring Crush). This was a VERY boring match that capped off a fairly terrible show. Lex Luger and Yokozuna faced off, but the crowd just sat on their hands. Undertaker and Yokozuna tried to murder each other, so that was fun. 'Merica won - what else would you expect.

Again, pretty bad show. D

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Survivor Series 1994 came from San Antonio, TX, and was also below average. Nothing much else to say for an introduction.

First was The Bad Guys vs The Teamsters. Where Diesel was eliminated quickly eliminated last year, he was a vengeful murder machine this year when he Jackknifed EVERYBODY. However, Diesel's murder streak would be stopped cold when Shawn Michaels inadvertently delivered some Sweet Chin Music to him. Diesel, already tired of Michaels' shit, turned babyface and chased Michaels out of the arena. The Teamsters were all counted out at once, but it kinda made sense considering that The Teamsters did not want to see Michaels get dismembered.

Next is another one of Survivor Series' infamous matches: The Royal Family vs Clowns R' Us. Basically it was Doink and Mini Doinks vs Jerry Lawler and Mini Kings. This was somewhat entertaining, but it wasn't good. At all. Lawler was an entertaining heel, and that helped him get the win for his team.

Bret Hart vs Bob Backlund was next in a "throw-in-the-towel submission match." On paper, you'd expect this to be good; however, it was probably one of the most boring matches I've seen in a while. The in-ring story unfortunately took a backseat to the ongoing Bret/Owen feud. In the end, Backlund locked Bret into the crossface chicken-wing for NINE MINUTES. During this torture, Davey-Boy Smith was "inadvertently" knocked out by Owen Hart, who immediately "regretted" his life's decisions when Bret was being choked out. After nine minutes, Owen finally convinced his parents come to ringside. Stu Hart wouldn't throw the towel, but Helen Hart did so.

Backlund was champion (albeit for three days until Diesel won it at a house show), but Owen's master plan was complete in that he got the title away from him. Owen, you were such a cold-hearted bastard.

Next was The Million Dollar Team vs Guts and Glory in an elimination match. Aside from some HOSS HOSS HOSS, it was nothing special. The heels won because of course.

Main eventing was Undertaker vs Yokozuna in a casket match. If you remember from Royal Rumble 1994, Yokozuna defeated Undertaker in a casket match....with the help of a bunch random wrestlers. To prevent this, WWE had some hired help in the name of Chuck Norris, who kicked one person (thankfully that person was Jeff Jarrett, so I was happy). Despite Norris' presence, Undertaker couldn't escape interference from IRS, who interjected himself....damn tax man. This match was slow, but Undertaker won.

Pretty below average show, so C-

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Survivor Series 1995 was aired from Washington, DC. 1995 was a terrible year for WWE, but thankfully, this show was pretty good, so that was a benefit. Also, a Bill Clinton impersonator was there and reminded me of Pimp Bill Clinton instead of the real Bill Clinton.

First was The BodyDonnas vs The Underdogs. Sunny was there, ZOMG BARRY HOROWITZ GOT A PIN, and all-in-all, this was a damn fun match. The controversial ending that gave The BodyDonnas caused Razor Ramon to lose his cool and destroy a locker room due to 1-2-3 Kid turning heel and aligning himself with Ted DiBiase....damn kids.

Next up was a pretty fun match featuring Alundra Blayze, Bertha Faye, and a bunch of Japanese joshis. The only complaint that I have was about the absolutely atrocious commentary with everyone making fun of the women in the ring....funny how times have thankfully changed somewhat. Bertha's team got the win, and this match signaled the beginning of the end of Blayze's WWE career as she could throw her WWF Women's Championship in WCW's trash soon enough.

Goldust beat Bam Bam Bigelow next. Nothing more.

Next was The Darkside vs The Royals, and Undertaker (donning his amazingly awesome mask) was in a bad mood, and you do know what that leads to, right? THAT'S RIGHT, it leads to Undertaker brutally murdering anyone and everyone in his way. Beautiful stuff.

Next was a wildcard match featuring Team Michaels vs Team Yokozuna. Both teams' had a neutral alignment with faces and heels on both teams. Honestly, it was very dull despite some good moments when Razor Ramon and Shawn Michaels went at it.

Ending this show was Bret Hart vs Diesel in a no DQ match for the WWF Championship, and it was FANTASTIC. From the very start, both men knew what they had to do to the other when they ripped a couple turnbuckle covers off. Bret even goes so far as to use some heel techniques to get the edge on Diesel (including some biting and tying Diesel's leg to a ring post). Bret worked Diesel's leg VERY well, causing the big man to sell it very well. Despite this, Diesel was still dangerous, leading to a very brutal and unexpected table moment for Bret that made me pop a bit. In the end, Bret play possum wonderfully and stole the match with a roll-up.

Unfortunately, this angered Diesel. You don't anger Diesel, and Bret found this out firsthand when a pissed-off Diesel murdered everyone at ringside to end the show.

1995 typically sucked for everything in WWE, but this show was a good one. B.

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The last show of this set is Survivor Series 1996 from New York City. This show is pretty well-known for some big moment. Also, it helps quite a bit that this show was pretty good.

First up was The Can-Am Express and The Godwinns vs The New Rockers and Owen Hart/British Bulldog. Honestly, I didn't enjoy this one too much. It was mostly dull and not very technically sound, even with the inclusion of the Can-Am Express, a well regarded tag team with history in Japan. That said, the last minute was exciting when the Can-Am Express finally clicked and opened up some Suplex City to get the babyfaces the win. However, it was too little, too late.

Undertaker vs Mankind was next, and this was a fantastic match coupled with a great story. When Paul Bearer turned his back on Undertaker at SummerSlam 1996, you knew the Deadman was out for vengeance, and he nearly got it. However, he first had to get through Mankind, who always proves a worthy opponent. Tonight, we got a different Undertaker. First of all, HE DESCENDED FROM THE RAFTERS WITH BAT WINGS!! Secondly, he was donned in all leather, king of like a proto-Bikertaker.

This was a standard singles match, but these two escalated the action as much as you could with rules in effect. Taker won with a sudden Tombstone and nearly got to Bearer...damn you, Executioner. On any other night, this would be the match of the night, but this was no ordinary night...

Next was a traditional elimination match with Marc Mero, The Stalker, Jake Roberts, and a debuting Rocky Maivia vs Triple H, Crush, Jerry Lawler, and Goldust. Honestly, this was a fairly boring match with a couple high points, including Roberts murdering Lawler with a vicious DDT, and a cool Merosault. The main story of this match, as you'd expect, was the debut of The Rock (ok, ok, Rocky Maivia). We all know about how failed this gimmick was, but it was clear from the get-go that Rocky was over as hell, and it would only escalate from here. They had so much faith in him that he was the sole survivor for his team.

Next was a little match between Bret Hart and Stone Cold Steve Austin. This match is seriously one of the best matches in WWE history. I'm not talking about this much as I will be doing a couple in-depth pieces about this famous feud soon enough. Bret wins by pinning Austin as the latter has the Million Dollar Dream locked in.

Next was an elimination match that ended in a brawl. The only notable things about this match were Fake Diesel, Fake Razor Ramon, and that this was Yokozuna's final WWE match due to his ballooning weight.

The final match was Shawn Michaels vs Sycho Sid, or a story about the absolute failure of the New Generation's supposed top babyface. You see, Sid was SUPPOSED to be the heel here. Unfortunately for the boffins booking this show, the crowds were quickly souring on Michaels (to the point that Vince McMahon lectured fans about booing Michaels at one point). Instead, Sid got the big babyface pops despite the bookers doing EVERYTHING they could to get heel heat, including Sid hitting Jose Lothario with a camera and causing a kayfabe heart attack. Michaels' babyface failure was complete, and his title run was halted after an average match when Sid powerbombed Michaels.

Very good show here, so I'll say a B+

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That's it for this one.

Next time, we go from 1997 to 2001.

Can you say "Screwjob?"