Whenever January hits, WWE loves to bust out their videos and articles talking about how the 30-Man Royal Rumble match is “all about the numbers.” For good reason too – there’s a lot of data to be gleaned from 30 years of Royal Rumble matches. It once led me to wonder though – could Survivor Series be all about the numbers too?
So I made myself a database of Survivor Series data and, way back in 2013, I posted an article that revealed what I believe is, statistically, the Ultimate Survivor Series Match. You can check out the original article here.
With four years and four Survivor Series gone by since, it felt like a good time to update the article, which is what I’m doing today. Surprisingly (or maybe unsurprisingly, given Survivor Series’ 30-year history), only one man on each team changed. With 156 Survivor Series-style matches now in the books featuring 332 different wrestlers, who are the masters of that match? Keep reading, because we’ve also got some superlatives at the end.
Are you ready? Let’s break it down!
ULTIMATE SURVIVOR SERIES TEAM ONE
RANDY ORTON (CAPTAIN)
If there were a Mr. Survivor Series, Randy Orton would be the guy. He’s wrestled in nine traditional Survivor Series matches since his first in 2003 (representing Team Bischoff). He’s stood as a survivor in five of those matches, tied for the most ever, and captained four different Survivor Series teams. In fact, there have been four different Team Ortons, not to mention Team Rated RKO in 2006. At last year’s Survivor Series, Orton stood with his Wyatt Family member Bray Wyatt as the sole survivors for Team Smackdown. If that weren’t enough, Orton has eliminated 14 men combined in his Survivor Series matches – the most in history. You would never think “Randy Orton” and “team player” in the same sentence, but it’s clear that when it comes to Survivor Series teams, Orton knows how to survive.
THE BIG SHOW
With his giant size, you would think The Big Show would be more apt to dominate a match like the Royal Rumble, but when it comes to Survivor Series, there are few better guys to have on your side. Show has competed in 8 different Survivor Series matches and stood as a survivor at the end of three of them, slaying 12 different opponents personally along the way. In 1999, Big Show survived after eliminating all four of the men on his opposing team. More impressive – it was a 4-on-1 Survivor Series match!
Be careful when choosing the Giant though – in his last Survivor Series Match, he bailed on his own team and sided with the Authority!
Jeff Hardy wasn’t included in the original Ultimate Survivor Series match, but after re-crunching the numbers, it’s clear the Charismatic Enigma belongs on this list. Jeff has competed in four Survivor Series matches and has stood at the end as a survivor in all but his very first in 1999. Jeff was part of Team DX in 2006, who completed a Clean Sweep over Team Rated-RKO. Jeff hasn’t competed in a Survivor Series match since 2007, and sadly he’ll miss this year too due to injury.
“THE BRITISH BULLDOG” DAVEY BOY SMITH
The powerful Brit appeared in eight different Survivor Series matches, proving himself to be a solid teammate. Smith and his partner The Dynamite Kid competed at the very first Survivor Series in a match that featured 10 tag teams. In 1997, the Bulldog stood as the sole survivor as the captain of Team Canada, which felled Team USA featuring big men like Vader and Goldust.
“MACHO MAN” RANDY SAVAGE
Though Macho Man, like Jeff Hardy, appeared in relatively few Survivor Series matches, he certainly made an impact when he did appear. Savage competed in four different Survivor Series matches and ended as the survivor in all but one of them. The Macho Man captained his own team against Team Honky Tonk Man in the very first Survivor Series match. Between then and his final Survivor Series appearance (as part of Team Razor in 1993), the Macho Man dropped five different opponents.
ULTIMATE SURVIVOR SERIES TEAM TWO
SHAWN MICHAELS (CAPTAIN)
The only person who comes close to Randy Orton’s Survivor Series domination is The Heartbreak Kid. Shawn Michaels has appeared in an amazing 11 Survivor Series matches, more than anyone else in history. He’s also tied for the most team captainships at 5, heading up everyone from The Teamsters in 1994 to The King & His Knights in 1993 (don’t ask). While Michaels has only stood as the survivor in three of his matches, there’s a reason the guy has made so many appearances – he gets things done.
Aside from Shawn Michaels, Hulk Hogan is the only man to captain 5 different Survivor Series teams (usually The Hulkamaniacs). In fact, Hulk Hogan captained every Survivor Series team he was a part of. More impressive, Hogan stood tall at the end of the match as the survivor in all but one of those matches. Hogan mastered most everything during his years on top of WWE, and Survivor Series was one of those things.
Rey Mysterio has appeared in five different Survivor Series matches, including 2013 when he helped decimate Tensai’s team to stand as one of four survivors. Rey has been victorious in three different Survivor Series matches. In 2010, he captained his own team against Alberto Del Rio’s group. Most impressive, in his five Survivor Series matches, Rey has eliminated seven different men, making him a true threat in this type of match.
John Cena didn’t quite have the numbers to make the original Ultimate Survivor Series Team, but at this point, Big Match John has proven that he belongs in the Survivor Series elite. Cena has appeared in four different Survivor Series matches and stood as a survivor in all but one. In his first Survivor Series match, he was one of two survivors who helped Team Angle take out Team Lesnar. In 2014, he captained Team Cena against Team Authority, a match that saw the Authority removed from power when Team Cena’s Dolph Ziggler ended as the lone survivor.
THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR
Another man who had a solid streak over a short period was the Ultimate Warrior. The Warrior only appeared in four different Survivor Series matches – but he stood as a survivor in all four of them. His Warriors team stood victorious in 1988 (over Honky Tonk Man’s team), 1989 (over The Heenan Family) and in 1990 (over The Perfect Team). Warrior was also co-survivor in 1990’s Grand Finale Match of Survival.
SURVIVOR SERIES SUPERLATIVES
The Ultimate Survivor Series Teams were put together based on data from all Survivor Series-style matches between the first Survivor Series event in 1987 to last year’s PPV. Scoring was done based on matches, survivals, captainships and eliminations.
Let’s take a look at who ruled in each of those categories.
Randy Orton – 5
2016 (Team SmackDown Men w/Bray Wyatt), 2008 (Team Orton w/Cody Rhodes), 2005 (Team SmackDown – sole survivor), 2004 (Team Orton – sole survivor), 2003 (Team Bischoff – sole survivor)
Runners-Up: Hulk Hogan (4), Shawn Michaels (4)
MOST SURVIVOR SERIES MATCHES
Shawn Michaels – 11
2008 (Team HBK), 2006 (Team dX), 2005 (Team Raw), 2003 (Team Angle), 1995 (Team Michaels), 1994 (The Teamsters), 1993 (The King & His Knights), 1991 (Team Rockers/Bushwhackers), 1990 (The Vipers), 1989 (The Ultimate Warriors), 1988 (Team Powers Of Pain)
Runners-Up: Randy Orton (9), Kane (9)
Tie: Shawn Michaels & Hulk Hogan (5)
HBK: 2008 (Team HBK), 2005 (Team Raw), 1995 (Team Michaels), 1994 (The Teamsters), 1991 (Team Rockers/Bushwhackers)
Hulk: 1990 (The Hulkamaniacs), 1990 (Finale Face Team), 1989 (The Hulkamaniacs), 1988 (Team Mega Powers), 1987 (Team Hogan)
Runners-Up: Randy Orton (4), “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase (4)
Randy Orton (14)
2016 – 1 (Chris Jericho), 2012 – 1 (Alberto Del Rio), 2011 – 3 (Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger & Hunico), 2009 – 2 (Mark Henry & Christian), 2008 – 2 (Kofi Kingston & Batista), 2005 – 1 (Shawn Michaels), 2004 – 2 (Edge & Triple H), 2003 – 2 (Rob Van Dam & Shawn Michaels)
Runners-Up: Shawn Michaels (12) & The Big Show (12)
So there you have it – the greatest performers in the history of the traditional 5-on-5 Survivor Series Elimination Match. We’ll never know who would win between these two mega teams, but you can be sure few would survive!