Mount Rushmores of Wrestling is a series that breaks down the cream of the crop of professional wrestling in our quest to come to a consensus on the top 4 of any given category. In today’s edition, we’re talking the greatest Survivor Series teams of all time — not based on whether or not they won or match quality, but purely team composition.
Team WWF (The Rock, The Undertaker, Kane, Chris Jericho, Big Show): Survivor Series 2001
Shane: WWE was at the top of their game in 2001, and the main event of Survivor Series 2001 shows just that. The roster at the time had some of the biggest names the company has ever seen, and that is evident in the star power that filled Team WWF as they took on the Alliance. The Rock, Chris Jericho, Big Show, Kane and The Undertaker are all bonafide Hall of Famers and this goes without factoring in that they were fighting ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Rob Van Dam, Booker T and Shane McMahon on the other side of the ring.
The best Survivor Series teams are oftentimes a reflection of the depth of talent that was available at the time, and you would be hard pressed to find a team more stacked than Team WWF in 2001.
Brendan: This match was an era-defining one in many ways. There’s a case to be made for Team Alliance also being on this list, but Shane’s inclusion brings it down slightly from an in-ring standpoint. Besides, they were overshadowed (and bested) by Team WWF that night. This team had everything: peak-era Rock, a dependably great Kane, the Big Show near the end of his physical prime, BikerTaker and his Durst-assisted entrance, and an ascendant Y2J. More specifically, Jericho’s heel turn in this match marked his jump to the top of the card and would herald his win to become the first unified WWF/WCW champion immediately afterward. Sometimes, it’s hard to gauge the historic importance of an event when you are watching it happen in real time. Team WWE’s win in this match was not one of those times.
Team DX (Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy, CM Punk): Survivor Series 2006
Shane: I might be looking at this team with rose-tinted glasses, but Team DX from Survivor Series 2006 will forever be one of my favorite Survivor Series teams, ever. DX were back and were on one hell of a run, the Hardy Boyz were also enjoying major success, and CM Punk was white-hot in his rookie year in WWE. The quintet formed to take on Team Rated-RKO (Edge, Randy Orton, Gregory Helms, Johnny Nitro and Mike Knox) in a Traditional Five-on-Five Survivor Series Elimination Match.
Fun fact: This was the first quintet in Survivor Series history to have all five members win a match without a single member being eliminated. Another fun fact: This match might also have one of the funniest eliminations in Survivor Series history, with Shawn Michaels hitting Sweet Chin Music on Mike Knox within seconds. “Who was that guy?!” gets me every time.
Team DX had the perfect combination of past, present, and future stars and goes down in my book as one of the most memorable Survivor Series teams in history, earning its spot easily in the Mount Rushmore of Survivor Series Teams.
Million Dollar Team (Honky Tonk Man, Greg Valentine, Ted DiBiase, The Undertaker): Survivor Series 1990
Brendan: This pick could be the product of personal youth nostalgia gone wild, but it still belongs on the list. In context, this was the end of Honky Tonk Man’s run with the WWF and his work tagging with Greg Valentine as Rhythm & Blues was largely overshadowed by the Road Warriors. That shouldn’t take away from his legacy as one of the best midcarders and Intercontinental Champions of the era, or Valentine’s prolific work in 1989-90 toward the end of his underrated, storied career (wherein he retired Ronny Garvin). As solid and dependable as those guys might have been, that’s not really why this team is on this Mt. Rushmore, is it?
In 1990, Ted DiBiase was in the middle of a WWE HOF run that wouldn’t end until 1996. His Survivor Series angle with Dusty Rhodes came about because he attacked one of Dusty’s sons, a young Dustin, on Saturday Night Main Event less than a month before the PPV. He also used the match as an opportunity to debut The Undertaker in the WWF, a move that was shocking at the time and launched one of the most defining gimmicks in all of wrestling history. So, yeah, The Undertaker’s debut. But you can’t set aside DiBiase’s importance to the promotion and TV product at the time. He turned out amazing matches up and down the card and it was his prestige and name they used to put over Taker with the audience.
Shane: How can you talk about the best Survivor Series teams without talking about the debut of the Undertaker? The minute his music hit, everyone knew we were in for a treat. And the fact that we are celebrating this debut 30 years later says more than anything I could possibly write.
Is this the best Survivor Series team ever? No, it’s not. But the nostalgia factor and the debut of my all time favorite wrestler puts this towards the top of my list.
Team NXT (Rhea Ripley, Bianca Belair, Candice LeRae, Io Shirai, Toni Storm): Survivor Series 2019
Brendan: So much of this Mt. Rushmore discussion is about the convergence of timing and history: how Team WWF launched Jericho’s main event dominance in 2001; The Undertaker’s debut on the Million Dollar Team in 1990; and Team DX’s absurd audience pleasing dominance. Team NXT in the 2019 women’s traditional match is no exception.
For starters, Rhea Ripley, Toni Storm, Bianca Belair, and Io Shirai are all potential WWE Women’s Champions, maybe even HOF candidates if they play their cards right. Candice LeRae’s importance in training, mentoring, and building the careers of her fellow NXT Superstars cannot be understated, either. As for the match itself, four of these women had also wrestled in a War Games match THE. PREVIOUS. NIGHT. for Takeover: War Games. Ripley, Belair, and Storm ended up winning this match 3 on 10 against two other teams that included nothing less than Charlotte Flair and Asuka. That level of work rate is untouchable.
This pick isn’t just a sure shot Mt. Rushmore pick in 2020. Its legacy will only improve over the next decade. As much as Team WWF in 2001, this team and their victory was historic.
Shane: It goes without saying that WWE has the best women’s division in all of professional wrestling and NXT is honestly one of the biggest reasons why. This team from last year’s Survivor Series only proves that point. This team was stacked last year — it would be stacked this year. The NXT women brought it in every way and definitely deserve a spot in the Mt. Rushmore of Survivor Series Teams.
- Andre The Giant, Dino Bravo, Mr. Perfect, Rick Rude, and Harley Race: Survivor Series 1988
- The Hulkamaniacs (Hulk Hogan, Jake Roberts, Ax, and Smash): Survivor Series 1989
- The Warriors (Animal, Hawk, Kerry Von Erich, and Ultimate Warrior): Survivor Series 1990
- The All-Americans (Lex Luger, Rick Steiner, Scott Steiner, The Undertaker): Survivor Series 1993
- Bubba Ray Dudley, D-Von Dudley, Jeff Hardy, Matt Hardy: Survivor Series 2000
- Team Alliance (Stone Cold Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Rob Van Dam, Booker T and Shane McMahon): Survivor Series 2001
- Team Guerrero (Eddie Guerrero, Big Show, John Cena, Rob Van Dam) – Survivor Series 2004
- Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Jack Swagger, Antonio Cesaro – Survivor Series 2013
- Team Raw (Charlotte, Bayley, Sasha Banks, Nia Jax, Alicia Fox) – Survivor Series 2016
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