In the early days of PPV, WWF had its Big Four system down. There was the biggest show of the year, the second biggest show of the year that happened in the summer, the show where they had the cool 30-man match, and the show with the elimination tag matches. Even though it nearly got dropped once or twice over the years, Survivor Series is a tradition that I fully embrace. The traditional elimination tag gimmick is seriously underrated as a fun showcase that stretched good stories, ended bad stories, gave us random battles, and built stars when necessary.
Unfortunately, the company has been more obsessed with giving big matches bigger stakes and merely being a survivor of a team just didn’t cut it. In 1991, Hulk Hogan vs. Undertaker was added to the show and by the following year, there was only one elimination tag to happen. For many years, the very tradition that founded the event has been treated as an afterthought with the occasional big angle holding it up.
Here are what I consider to be the most memorable eliminations in Survivor Series history. We’re going in chronological order here.
HACKSAW AND HARLEY RACE DOUBLE COUNT-OUT (1987)
Hacksaw Jim Duggan will always be remembered as the first official winner of the Royal Rumble, but that’s not the only first he’s taken part in. Five minutes into the opening match at Survivor Series 1987, Duggan clotheslined King Harley Race out of the ring and kept at him. The two proceeded to brawl around the ringside area until they were both counted out, turning the match into a four-on-four affair.
Not only were Duggan and Race the first to take the bullet for this tradition, but it would begin a curious pattern of Duggan repeatedly being eliminated from these matches without eating a pin. Because if anyone needed to be protected, it’s Hacksaw for some reason.
HONKY TONK MAN ESCAPES (1987)
The very first Survivor Series match gave the fans what they want in the end. Although the Honky Tonk Man’s Intercontinental Championship wasn’t on the line, he still feltthe burn of the match type when he was the only man left on his team and the other side featured the likes of Randy Savage, Ricky Steamboat, and Jake Roberts. Now, granted, Honky Tonk didn’t eat a pin or anything, as he simply walked off and allowed a count-out, but not before he got absolutely thrashed in a beatdown that he rightfully deserved.
So if you were ever wondering, Savage, Steamboat, and Roberts were the original survivors. Not a bad trio to start it off with.
ANDRE THE GIANT ELIMINATES BAM BAM BIGELOW (1987)
The main event of the original Survivor Series was built on Hulk Hogan’s team vs. Andre the Giant’s team. Simple enough, right? Problem was, Hogan didn’t even last to the end. Due to a scuffle with King Kong Bundy and One Man Gang, Hogan spent too much time outside of the ring and was counted out. Hogan was very upset over this and was forced to leave. The only other person on his side by this point of the match was Bam Bam Bigelow.
In the other corner, you had Andre, King Kong Bundy, and One Man Gang. Things were not looking good.
Already fatigued, Bam Bam was able to defeat Bundy. Just as well, since Bundy was on his way out of the company. It took a lot out of Bam Bam and he got manhandled by the Gang. Luckily, he was able to roll out of the way of a top-rope splash and pin him. It was down to one-on-one, but it was also a very tired Bam Bam vs. Andre the goddamn Giant. Running on fumes, Bam Bam tried rolling and evading the 8th Wonder, but a missed tackle attempt led to Andre getting his hands on the fireball and that was that.
BAD NEWS BROWN LEAVES (THE FIRST TIME) (1988)
Wrestling is usually about all the faces being friends with each other while the same is said about the heels. The outlier in the Hogan era was Bad News Brown, who was like the prototypical Steve Austin. He didn’t like anybody and he didn’t trust anybody. He just wanted to beat down anyone in his way. Still, he joined Honky Tonk Man’s team in 1988 and did his part, going as far as eliminating Jim Brunzell.
Unfortunately, when he and Greg Valentine worked over Sam Houston, Valentine screwed up and accidentally chopped his arm down into Bad News’ neck. Remembering that he was an angry loner, Bad News decided he was done and simply walked to the back, forfeiting his part in the match.
He’d do the same thing a year later when part of the Big Boss Man’s team. Originally, he was supposed to be on Ted Dibiase’s team in 1990, but left the company instead. I’m sure Honky Tonk Man felt more at ease not having to team with that turncoat three years in a row.
THE BARBARIAN ELIMINATES UNO (1988)
While five-on-five was the go-to in the early days, there were a couple tag-team-based Survivor Series matches that made it ten-on-ten. If someone was eliminated, so was their regular tag partner. The 1988 version was built on the Powers of Pain representing the faces against Demolition representing the heels.
As the list of competitors shrank more and more, there were two surprises. One was that jobber tag team The Conquistadors were still in action. The other was that Mr. Fuji accidentally-on-purpose caused Smash to fall out of the ring and get counted out. It was a double-turn as Demolition attacked Fuji and The Powers of Pain revealed him as their new manager.
That left The Conquistadors vs. Powers of Pain, with Uno and Dos as impromptu faces due to this swerve and the fact that they had proven themselves as underdogs. Unfortunately, they couldn’t measure up despite their best efforts, thanks in part to Mr. Fuji interfering, and Barbarian pinned Uno after a falling headbutt.
RANDY SAVAGE ELIMINATES THE RED ROOSTER (1988)
This…this is just overkill. The Mega Powers and the Twin Towers each had their own team of five and the heel side had Bobby Heenan’s ill-fated experiment The Red Rooster. Despite his badociations, he probably shouldn’t have had a spot in the main event here and seeing him get so utterly destroyed just proves that. Rooster fought against Koko B. Ware, who was more on his skill level, but then Hogan and Savage were brought in.
This heel jobber ate a big boot followed by a top-rope elbow drop from the WWF version of the Avengers.
THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR ELIMINATES ANDRE THE GIANT (1989)
It was the latter days of Andre the Giant’s in-ring career and he was being used to put over The Ultimate Warrior. Neither was known for having much in terms of stamina, so what to do? Simply put, WWF had Andre fight off Warrior’s teammates during the entrances. He beat up Jim Neidhart, slammed Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty into each other, then awaited Warrior. Running at full speed, Warrior ducked Andre’s attacks and returned with three clotheslines.
The final clothesline knocked Andre out of the ring, where he fell unconscious and got counted out. By the time he woke up, he could only yell garbled French at Warrior for so long before being dragged to the back by security.
THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR ELIMINATES AX (1990)
In a pre-internet age, I always found this one to be interesting. The Ultimate Warrior’s team included Legion of Doom and Kerry Von Erich. The other team was Mr. Perfect and the three members of Demolition, who had been using their three-man team status to be WWF’s counterpart to the Freebirds. But this was an important time, as Ax was being dropped from the roster and Demolition was going to be just Smash and Crush from there on.
Halfway into the match, Hawk and Animal of Legion of Doom got in a brawl with Smash and Crush from Demolition that got so out of control that the ref disqualified the four of them. It was a protective measure…for Smash and Crush. As for Ax? Well, he was already gone. The Ultimate Warrior pretty easily finished him off early on with a shoulder tackle and big splash.
It was really an exercise in watching the promotion sweep Ax under the rug to the point that many fans could pick up that he was on the way out.
THE UNDERTAKER ELIMINATES KOKO B. WARE (1990)
Ted Dibiase introduced his mystery partner in a creepy hoss known only as The Undertaker. After being tagged in, Undertaker shrugged off attacks by both Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart. Neither had an answer to Undertaker’s invincibility, so Koko tagged himself in. He decided to use his speed by dashing across the ropes and diving at the newcomer.
Undertaker moved out of the way and shoved Koko into the ropes. After Koko bounced back, Undertaker casually picked him up, held him upside-down, and made him the victim to the first (televised) Tombstone. Years of dominance started in this very moment.
TED DIBIASE ELIMINATES BRET HART (1990)
1990 was when they turned Survivor Series into a tournament of sorts as the surviving faces and heels from earlier matches were placed in a main event faces vs. heels match. That’s why Undertaker got counted out in the middle of his first match. They didn’t want to have him interact with Hogan and Warrior just yet. Ted Dibiase, though? He was fine for main event fodder.
In his initial match, his final opponent was Bret Hart. This was one of those “right place/right time” instances, as Bret was months away from starting his singles run and Dibiase was months away from ending his singles run. You had two of the best WWF talents going at it one-on-one and putting on an exciting final few minutes until Dibiase was able to outmaneuver Bret and turn a crossbody into a roll-up.
If only we could have had a full-on feud between the two.
RIC FLAIR BARELY SURVIVES (1991)
The opening match of Survivor Series 1991 had plenty of talent involved, but it seemed to be taking its time just a little too much. Over twenty minutes had pbaded and only two guys had been eliminated. That left Roddy Piper, Bret Hart, and Virgil on one side and Ric Flair, Ted Dibiase, and The Mountie on the other. In a move that seemed to foreshadow his Royal Rumble win, Flair proved that sometimes winning isn’t so much about overwhelming your opponents, but outsmarting the situation.
The six remaining wrestlers started brawling inside the ring as the referee lost control. As everyone traded fists with their rivals, Piper bested Flair and knocked him out of the ring. The fighting continued and finally the ref had had enough and disqualified everyone for what was essentially a count-in.
Everyone, that is, except Ric Flair, who was outside the ring and therefore wasn’t one of the offenders. With everyone taken out of the equation in one fell swoop, Flair came out of it as the sole survivor.
BRIAN KNOBBS ELIMINATES SHAWN MICHAELS (1991)
Few tag team break-ups are as memorable as the end of The Rockers and this was the final PPV appearance of Michaels and Jannetty as a duo. The two had various incidents that built up their split, but this was the only one to be on PPV. The Rockers and Bushwackers teamed up against The Nasty Boys and The Beverly Brothers. Towards the end, the Beverlys and Bushwackers were out of the equation.
Things seemed to be going well until the ring became too chaotic and Jannetty tried bodyslamming one of the Nasty Boys. Michaels was too close and got hit with the legs during the setup of the move. During the confusion, Brian Knobbs rolled him up for a pin. Afterwards, Michaels threw a huge fit at his partner and stormed off.
The commentators screwed up by not noticing the pin itself, so to them, Michaels was just walking out of the match because he was fed up.
RANDY SAVAGE ELIMINATES DIESEL (1993)
Randy Savage did pretty well in his final Survivor Series appearance. The 1-2-3 Kid was being thrown around like a ragdoll by new hotness Diesel, but a surprise reversal into satellite headscissors allowed him to make the tag to Savage. Not only did Savage beat the hell out of Diesel, but he took a break to get the better of IRS, Adam Bomb, and Rick Martel, before going back to Diesel and finishing him off with a top-rope elbow drop.
Savage was written out of the match moments later due to interference, but that was a damn good showing. ESPECIALLY considering it was months before the memorable Diesel god run at Royal Rumble 1994.
SHAWN MICHAELS ELIMINATES OWEN HART (1993)
Originally, there was supposed to be an elimination tag match to bring closure to the Bret Hart/Jerry Lawler feud, but then legal accusations happened and Lawler got taken off TV. Instead, Shawn Michaels inexplicably had a trio of knight henchmen and Bret had to combat them by bringing in his brothers. Owen was already on the roster, so that meant one-off appearances by Bruce and Keith.
The match was exceptionally boring, but had one important moment. With the three knights defeated, Michaels had to fend off against all four Harts. A weakened Bret walked cross the apron while Michaels badped Owen right into him. Bret flew to the ground and while Owen was distracted and annoyed, Michaels rolled him up for the pin.
Michaels lost shortly after by cheesing it to the exit, but the damage had been done. With three Harts surviving, Owen returned from behind the curtain to start some conflict with Bret. Owen was sick of being in his shadow and saw his loss as making him look bad. This development had years of consequence to it.
LUKE-DOINK ELIMINATES SAMU (1993)
There are some people who think that the Team Doink match from Survivor Series 1993 was a bad thing. Those people are monsters and you should cut them out of your life. After promising a team of four Doinks, we instead had Men on a Mission and The Bushwackers dressed up with Doink facepaint and wigs. Their opponents were Bam Bam Bigelow, Bastion Booger, and The Headshrinkers.
The match was a complete blow-out as the clowns proceeded to defeat Bam Bam’s henchmen until defeating Bam Bam himself, all the while doing silly clown crap. The best moment in all of this was when Samu was wrestling Luke and the clowns on the apron would hold out balloons. Angrily, he would grab each balloon and pop them with a bite. This turned out to be his undoing, as one of the balloons was filled with water. Taken aback from the water exploding into his face, Samu was rolled up by Luke and eliminated.
RAZOR RAMON SURVIVES THE TEAMSTERS (1994)
In a five-on-five battle, The Bad Guys vs. The Teamsters went a pretty long while before hitting an elimination. But, oh boy, once it started, there was no stopping. Diesel was brought in and annihilated Fatu, The 1-2-3 Kid, and Sione with Jackknife powerbombs. He booted The British Bulldog out of the ring, where he was too busy brawling with other Teamsters to make it back in. That meant Razor Ramon was up against the entire heel team.
Diesel was kind of tired and wanted to tag out, but Shawn Michaels insisted he take down Razor. Diesel reluctantly went with it and took down Razor with a boot and a Jackknife. Now Michaels wanted to tag in and Diesel went along with it, irritated. Michaels also wanted Diesel to hold up Razor so Michaels could nail a superkick. Diesel did so, but Razor moved away at the last second and Diesel ate Michaels’ boot.
Infuriated, Diesel got back up and decided that he had finally had enough of Michaels’ bullshit. He chased his boss to the back while Jeff Jarrett, Owen Hart, and Jim Neidhart tried to hold him back. With all of those guys walking up the ramp, they were all counted out and the winner by default was a half-dead Razor Ramon.
Oh, and a couple days later, Diesel won the title at a house show.
KING KONG BUNDY ELIMINATES LEX LUGER (1994)
If Hulk Hogan was Optimus Prime, Lex Luger was his Ultra Magnus. He was the pretender to the throne that immediately proved not to be up to the task. While I feel bad for Luger, I do like that for a couple years, WWF had a top face who simply could not succeed. Outside of getting the best of Ludvig Borga, Luger practically failed at everything.
One of his last gasps of breath was at Survivor Series 1994, where his team Guts and Glory lost to the Million Dollar Corporation. Luger was the last member of his team and had to take on Tatanka, Bam Bam Bigelow, and King Kong Bundy. Fatigued and barely holding it together, Luger miraculously caught Tatanka with a small package.
Immediately after, Bundy crushed hope by splashing down on Luger and pinning him. Luger’s feud with the Million Dollar Corporation was finished and he spent the rest of his run in borderline obscurity.
THE UNDERTAKER ELIMINATES JERRY LAWLER (1995)
The Undertaker returned from an orbital bone injury to lead a team of random midcarders against a team of royal-based heels: Jerry Lawler, his personal muscle Isaac Yankem, King Mabel, and Hunter Hearst Helmsley. Once the midcard faces killed enough time, they finally tagged Undertaker in to face Jerry Lawler. Lawler, understandably, tried to tag out. Even more understandably, all of his partners backed off and left him to die.
Undertaker made very short work of Lawler and then cut through the rest of the team. Yep, Undertaker pinned Kane and Triple H in the same minute.
ROCKY MAIVIA ELIMINATES GOLDUST (1996)
In 1996, creative was so bad at writing storylines for the midcard that nearly every tag match of that year’s Survivor Series felt thrown together. At least one of the matches was notable for introducing us to smiling blue-chipper Rocky Maivia. This pineapple-looking youngster and his flailing arms were teamed with Jake Roberts, The Stalker, and Marc Mero. He ended up the sole survivor.
His final two opponents were Goldust and Crush. Crush had been finishing off the face team with his dreaded heart punch (note: it was a dumb finisher) and wanted Goldust to hold up Rocky so Rocky could get a total eclipse of the heart. Crush hit Goldust instead by accident, Rocky pinned Crush with a crossbody, got back up, and finished Goldust off with a shoulder breaker.
It would take him almost a year to figure out his groove, but at least The Rock’s first outing got him a decent enough win.
BRITISH BULLDOG ELIMINATES VADER (1997)
Just a couple hours before the Montreal Screwjob would change everything, the US vs. Canada rivalry had its last hurrah before derailment. Vader led his team of proud Americans against Team Canada, which was really a Canadian, an Englishman, and their two American friends. In this situation, nobody was ever as big a Survivor Series valiant underdog as Vader. In terms of his partners, Steve Blackman was too new to wrestling to understand the concept of getting counted out, Marc Mero got pinned via cheating, and Goldust decided to walk away.
In other words, Vader had to pretty much BE his team. He singlehandedly took out Jim Neidhart, Phil Lafon, and Doug Furnas, only for the British Bulldog to brain him with the ring bell and pin him. EXCEPT! Because this was in Montreal, the crowd absolutely loved that the heroic face got snuffed out because he was American.
Wrestling’s funny like that.
BIG SHOW ELIMINATES EVERYONE (1999)
Big Show wasn’t having the best of times in the weeks leading up to Survivor Series. His father had died of cancer (kayfabe) and Big Boss Man decided to bully him about it for absolutely no reason. He was just a total dick. Big Show was so incensed that before the show, he beat up his own partners, Blue Meanie, Taka Michinoku, and Funaki because he didn’t want their help and he wanted to let them know in the rudest way possible.
Then when it came time for the match, he rushed in and laid waste to everyone, chokeslamming and pinning Mideon, Albert, and Viscera in under a minute. Big Boss Man decided to cheese it, losing by count-out. The entire match was less than a minute and a half.
Big Show went on to replace an injured Steve Austin in the main event, where he shockingly became the new WWF Champion.
SHANE MCMAHON ELIMINATES BIG SHOW (2001)
The WWF vs. WCW angle was a creative failure, but damn if the PPV matches didn’t make up for it half the time. The climax came at Survivor Series, where it was winner take all. Team WWF had Big Show, who became the first mbadive threat to be taken out of one of these matches via finisher spam. Kurt Angle delivered an Angle Slam, Booker T followed with an axe kick (with follow-up Spinaroonie), Rob Van Dam nailed a Five Star Frog Splash, and Shane finished it off with an elbow off the top. That overkill was enough to keep Big Show down.
As for the overkill a moment later when the remainder of Team WWF spammed their finishers on Shane? That was just fun.
THE ROCK ELIMINATES STEVE AUSTIN (2001)
WWF vs. WCW, after all of its twists and turns, ended up with Rock and Austin going mono-y-mono. Sort of. Rock’s teammate Chris Jericho lost and took it out on Rock, repeatedly trying to get him to lose, until Undertaker returned and got in his grill. That left the two true giants of the era to feed into their epic rivalry with the fate of mainstream wrestling hinging on their every punch.
These two went at it for roughly ten minutes, which is forever in Survivor Series time. In the end, WCW/ECW representative Kurt Angle evened the odds by attacking HIS teammate and clocking Austin with the WWF Championship. Rock put Austin down for good with a Rock Bottom and WWF was saved.
Not only was the story finished, but there was some new direction mixed in there. Granted, Austin would just go back to being a face the next day with Angle being heel yet again, but I’m not complaining.
CHRIS BENOIT ELIMINATES BROCK LESNAR (2003)
I would consider the opening match of Survivor Series 2003 to be an instrumental moment in John Cena’s history and the exact moment where he became over as a face, but WWE won’t be mentioning that any time soon due to his teammate and fellow survivor being Chris Benoit. The two of them worked together to bring down The Big Show in the final moments.
Shortly before that was an even better elimination moment as Chris Benoit got the better of Brock Lesnar. Before being sent to Raw for winning the Royal Rumble, Benoit was primed for a feud with WWE Champion Brock Lesnar. While it never truly panned out, he did lock on the Crippler Crossface during this match and despite Brock’s attempts to power out and get the ropes, Benoit was able to apply it in the center of the ring. Brock finally tapped.
RANDY ORTON ELIMINATES SHAWN MICHAELS (2003)
Wrestling is many things, but it’s rarely poignant. The ending of Team Austin vs. Team Bischoff was one of those times. Each authority figure had a team of five to represent them. The loser had to quit and ride off into the sunset. Halfway into the match, things weren’t looking so optimistic for Stone Cold. His team was down to just Shawn Michaels while Bischoff’s team had Randy Orton, Chris Jericho, and Christian.
Michaels got past Christian with a superkick and caught Jericho with a cradle roll-up. Afterwards, Jericho smashed him in the face with a chair. Michaels was a tired, bloody mess when fending off Orton, but he wouldn’t say die. Then, as Austin was chasing Bischoff up the ramp and the ref was knocked out, Batista entered the ring and drilled Michaels with a Batista Bomb. Michaels was depleted and Orton made the pin, ending Austin’s tenure as an on-air regular.
Austin entered the ring and kneeled before what was left of Michaels. Michaels weakly placed his hand on Austin’s arm and Austin turned his head to it. Normally, that gesture meant you were dead meat in that era, but Austin helped Michaels up and accepted the fact that this man did everything possible to fight for him. Although the bloody Michaels looked distraught in his failure, Austin seemed more proud than angry, and walked him to the back.
Then he came out a moment later to beat up some security guards and The Coach, because you might as well go out on a happy note!
SHAWN MICHAELS ELIMINATES MIKE KNOX (2006)
Team DX vs. Team Rated RKO is a pretty damn one-sided battle, what with it ending in a clean sweep for the faces, a humiliating beating for Randy Orton, and someone holding up a sign saying, “WHHHO BOOKED THIS?” That said, the opening minute was downright hilarious.
Mike Knox got in Triple H’s face, mainly to be possessive of Knox’s then-girlfriend and “exhibitionist who never takes off her clothes” Kelly Kelly. As Knox turned around, he ate Sweet Chin Music and Michaels pinned him before the match could truly begin. What made it so brilliant was Michaels’ goofy confusion over the whole ordeal. He didn’t know who Mike Knox was, if he was in the match, or if superkicking him was the right thing to do.
When told that he did the right thing and pinned one of their opponents, he seemed to calm down. “So we’re doing good, then?”
RANDY ORTON ELIMINATES BATISTA (2008)
Batista had a long hill to climb, as it was one of him vs. four of Team Orton. He took out Mark Henry and Shelton Benjamin, leaving Cody Rhodes and Orton. As he showed he was still powerful enough to take Cody to the woodshed, he didn’t see a blind tag from Orton. So when Batista finished off Cody with a Batista Bomb, he was angry and confused that the ref couldn’t count it.
All the while, Orton stood perched behind him and made the most HILARIOUS gestures that were meant to make him look unhinged. Batista turned around into an RKO and that was all she wrote.
RANDY ORTON ELIMINATES MARK HENRY (2009)
Listen, this list is like 50% RKOs. Can you blame me?
While Mark Henry would prove to be the bane of Orton’s existence a couple years later, he wasn’t quite there in 2009. In the opening minutes, he did a pretty good job overpowering the Viper and squeezed him with a bearhug. Then Orton’s team stormed the ring and in the confusion, attacked Henry from behind. Henry let go of the hold and stood a bit dazed for just a second. That second was all it took for Orton to counter with an RKO and Henry was gone in a mere fifty seconds.
That’s not even Henry’s most embarrbading loss on this list.
KOFI KINGSTON ELIMINATES RANDY ORTON (2009)
For a short while, Kofi Kingston was Randy Orton’s rival and seemed to be getting a decent push out of it until he wasn’t. Before being shoved back into midcard hell for however long it took for New Day to happen, Kofi at least got this notch on his belt. He had the disadvantage as he had to face CM Punk and Orton alone. Against Punk, he was treated as being an equal. If he could survive, there would be nothing left to last long against Orton.
All the while, Orton stood outside the ring, watching intently.
Kofi caught Punk with a roll-up and eliminated him. Orton dashed to the ring, but Kofi saw this coming a mile away. The moment he let go of Punk, Kofi got to his feet, flew forward, and unleashed Trouble in Paradise. Orton ran headfirst into the kick and the next thing he knew, he was on the bad end of a three-count.
BIG SHOW ELIMINATES ALBERTO DEL RIO (2010)
Up until the build to WrestleMania, Alberto Del Rio seemed untouchable in WWE. He was being pushed as an almost instant main-eventer to the point that he won the Royal Rumble months after debuting. Before that, he led his own Survivor Series team against Team Mysterio, and while he wasn’t actually pinned, his exit from the match was certainly memorable.
Del Rio helped Drew McIntyre take out MVP, then made Chris Masters tap to a cross armbreaker. When Big Show was staggered by Jack Swagger, Del Rio tagged in and decided it would be funny to smack Big Show on the top of his bald head. Well, Big Show didn’t appreciate that and stood up in fury. Nobody wanted to tag in, but Del Rio was still able to slap McIntyre on the arm, making him the legal man.
No longer legal, Del Rio got in Big Show’s face and let the smarm flow. Big Show responded with a punch to the face. Even though Del Rio couldn’t be pinned, he was so knocked out that they had to carry him to the back and have him forfeit his spot.
WADE BARRETT ELIMINATES RANDY ORTON (2011)
The RKO is almost broken when it comes to Survivor Series elimination tag matches. Orton’s able to hit the move out of nowhere, no matter how fresh his opponent is. Beat him down all you want, the moment he gets an opening, he’s driving you into that mat with style. In his 2011 match, he was able to take out both Ziggler and Hunico with RKOs. Hunico even got the rad mid-air RKO counter.
While Orton did indeed have Barrett on the ropes, Cody Rhodes knew Orton well enough to know how to use the RKO against him. Orton prepared the move on a dazed Barrett and Cody dashed right for Orton. Orton looked back and forth real quick and instinctually RKO’d Cody. That gave Barrett enough time to take advantage by grabbing Orton and finishing him off with the Wasteland.
Good team player, that Cody.
ROMAN REIGNS ELIMINATES REY MYSTERIO (2013)
Roman Reigns was always going to be prepped for greatness, but Survivor Series 2013 was the first time it was completely obvious that they wanted him to be a top star. Although Seth Rollins was behind Jey Uso’s elimination, Roman’s spear cut through everyone else. Jimmy Uso, Cody Rhodes, and Goldust each went down, making their numbers advantage worthless.
The final opponent was Rey Mysterio and his loss was special. In a moment of beautiful camera work and direction, Mysterio knocked Roman into the ropes to set up the 619. He sprinted into the ropes, bounced, and was immediately met with impact from Roman’s spear. It was so fast you’d think it was a glitch.
BIG SHOW ELIMINATES MARK HENRY (2014)
It was Team Cena vs. Team Authority for the fate of Triple H and Stephanie McMahon’s rule over the company. Big Show and Mark Henry stepped in, with Triple H trying to psyche Henry up. Henry slung some verbal abuse at the face team for a second, got more words of inspiration from the boss, then went rushing at Big Show.
Big Show caught him with a knockout punch, then pinned him.
Rusev sold the situation the best by gesturing like he couldn’t believe this shit.
RUSEV GETS COUNTED OUT (2014)
Before being fed to Cena, Rusev was an unstoppable heel. Nobody could get in his way and he had yet to take a loss outside of, say, the Royal Rumble. Rusev beat the hell out of Dolph Ziggler and placed him on one announce table. He climbed onto another table, ran forward, jumped…and crashed through the table as Ziggler rolled out of the way. Triple H tried to get him back to his feet, but Rusev knocked himself out.
The weak Ziggler was able to will his way into the ring before the ten-count, but Rusev wasn’t so lucky.
SETH ROLLINS ELIMINATES JOHN CENA (2014)
It was down to three-on-three, but the odds painted a different picture. Across the ring, Big Show saw Seth Rollins, Luke Harper, and Kane standing ready. To his side was John Cena, groggy and trying to stand. On the floor was Dolph Ziggler, exhausted and half-conscious. Seeing the writing on the wall, Big Show cut his losses by suckerpunching Cena. As an offering, Big Show allowed Rollins to easily pin Cena.
Big Show then walked over to Triple H and offered him his hand. Triple H shook it and Big Show took off to the back, forfeiting the match, but seemingly saving his job.
DOLPH ZIGGLER VS. SETH ROLLINS (2014)
Holding on by a thread, Ziggler was able to get the better of Kane and Luke Harper, leaving Rollins as the last member of Team Authority to fight through. Ziggler still conquered the odds and even nailed Rollins flush with a Zigzag. Unfortunately, Triple H attacked the referee, hit Ziggler with a Pedigree, and called for his own crooked ref Scott Armstrong to make the count. Before he could, “The Vigilante” Sting appeared. It was sort of a big deal.
Sting discarded Armstrong, stared down Triple H, then took him out of commission with the Scorpion Death Drop. He placed Ziggler’s hide over Rollins’ and let the original ref make the count.
The real drawback of this match is that Ziggler’s spot was originally meant to go to Roman Reigns, but he was on the shelf. The company had no intent on pushing Ziggler and instead credited Team Cena’s victory to Cena and Sting.
JEY USO ELIMINATES BIG E (2015)
The New Day walked to the ring on good terms with their partners Sheamus and Bad News Barrett, but cracks formed in their relationship when Sheamus followed up their clbady trash talk with excitedly yelling, “We’re gonna get jiggy on these posers!” It was rough.
Their team was going strong, though. Despite losing Barrett, the heels were able to take out Jimmy Uso, keeping it even. Then, when Big E seemed to have things well in hand, Sheamus tagged himself in and compacted Sin Cara’s face with a Brogue Kick. Big E wasn’t happy, but continued to wrestle until getting splashed by Jey Uso.
Deciding that they would rather hang out with their bro instead of fight alongside Sheamus, the rest of New Day carried Big E to the back and left Sheamus to fend for himself. Sheamus got beaten pretty badly, but he’d make up for it by cashing in Money in the Bank at the end of the show and becoming WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
BRAUN STROWMAN COUNTED OUT (2016)
The post-Wyatt Braun Strowman was powerful and hadn’t hit his limits yet. That made him a dangerous addition to Team Raw. What would it take to remove him from the match? The group effort began with Randy Orton surprising him with an RKO into a table. Orton and Wyatt laid Braun across an announcer’s table as Shane McMahon soared off the top and drilled him with an elbow, destroying the table beneath.
Even still, Braun got up and made his way to the ring. With only a couple seconds left on the ref’s count, Braun realized he couldn’t lift his leg. The ref counted to ten and Braun was out of the contest. Braun quickly discovered that Team SmackDown’s mascot and former Braun victim James Ellsworth had grabbed his leg from underneath the ring.
Ellsworth tried to run for it, but Braun caught up to him and outright mauled the poor guy. To finish him off, Braun threw him off the ramp and through a table.
SETH ROLLINS ELIMINATES AJ STYLES (2016)
In the battle between Team Raw and Team SmackDown, SmackDown‘s Dean Ambrose lost early on due to his inability to work alongside WWE Champion AJ Styles. Meanwhile, on the Raw side, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins were working fine as a team. While it was never talked about, Roman never seemed to give Rollins attitude over their past issues and had all but forgiven him.
Ambrose had yet to forgive Rollins for his infamous betrayal and wouldn’t for months after Survivor Series, but that night was special. Ambrose returned late into the match for the sake of attacking AJ. Security swarmed Ambrose, but Roman and Seth knew this was the kind of crazy they needed. Roman and Seth attacked security, got Ambrose, picked up AJ, and smashed him through a table with a Shield triple powerbomb. It was a natural one-off reunion where everything fell into the right place amidst the chaos.
Rollins quickly rolled AJ back in for the pin, natch.
BRAY WYATT ELIMINATES ROMAN REIGNS (2016)
I know that the whole storyline between Orton and Wyatt got especially stupid once they started feuding, but the months where they were a team were wonderful. Best Orton stuff in years. In the Team Raw vs. Team SmackDown battle, it ended up with Orton and Wyatt taking down Seth Rollins, then having only Roman Reigns left to handle. Roman, being Roman, was strong enough to be a threat against the two.
Orton was still trying to prove his trustworthiness to Wyatt and that led to a killer ending sequence. Roman had Wyatt stunned and prepared for the spear. At the last second, Orton ran forward, shoved Wyatt to the side, and took the spear himself. On the rebound, in one fluid motion, Wyatt grabbed Roman and twisted him to the mat with Sister Abigail. The Orton/Wyatt alliance overwhelmed Roman, just like they would in the following Royal Rumble.
Any elimination spots you think should have made the list? Sound off in the comments.
Gavin Jasper showed restraint by not including anything from the Dink, Wink, and Pink match. Follow Gavin on Twitter!