WWE Survivor Series 2013: 14 Most Shocking Moments in Event's History
The Survivor Series has, over time, become a hotbed of controversy for World Wrestling Entertainment.
Stunning championship victories, questionable booking decisions, the ignition of key rivalries and one very famous incident north of the border have made the event one of the more unpredictable on the annual pay-per-view schedule.
What, exactly, are the shocking moments that have come to define the November spectacular, and what impact did they have on the weeks, months and years that followed?
In preparation for the 2013 edition of the show, which will air live from the TD Garden in Boston on November 24, here is a very special look.
14. Hart Family Drama (1993)
The 1993 event took place at the Boston Garden on November 24 and was supposed to feature the culmination of the Bret Hart-Jerry Lawler rivalry.
Legal issues prevented Lawler from appearing, so Shawn Michaels replaced him, teaming with the red, black and blue knights to take on Bret and brothers Owen, Keith and Bruce.
Midway through the match, Owen accidentally collided with Bret, sending him off the apron and leaving Owen prone to a roll-up by Michaels. His elimination would prove to be the only one for the Harts, who celebrated together after the win.
Owen, irate that he was the only one to suffer a defeat, interrupted the feel-good moment and made his displeasure known. He yelled at Bret, creating conflict between them that would ignite a rivalry and dominate the following year.
What made Owen's actions so shocking was that the youngest Hart brother had been a babyface leading into the event and never really exhibited any signs that jealousy of his older brother's success was starting to bother him.
The holiday season allowed the brothers to mend the proverbial fence and concentrate their efforts into tag team action and challenging the Quebecers for the company's tag titles at the Royal Rumble.
In that match, Bret suffered a knee injury that caused the referee to call for the bell, costing Owen his first chance at championship gold. He turned on Bret, setting up one of the greatest matches in WrestleMania history for the event's 10th installment two months later.
13. The Corporate Champion (1998)
By the fall of 1998, The Rock was gaining support from a WWE audience that found his persona and catchphrases highly entertaining. Heading into Survivor Series on November 15, he was arguably the second most popular star in the company and found himself the target of the evil Mr. McMahon's wrath.
It looked as though Rock and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, two men who had been bitter rivals a year earlier, would be the Superstars charged with taking down the corrupt owner of WWE.
Then the self-proclaimed "Great One" shocked the world en route to winning his first WWE Championship.
The tournament to crown a new champion had come down to Rock and Mankind, who had done everything possible to get in the good graces of McMahon and his Corporation. Mankind had allowed himself to be manipulated, embarrassed, abused and punished for the sake of what was in McMahon's best interests, and throughout the majority of the Survivor Series event, he appeared poised to capture the title at the expense of every other Superstar involved in the Deadly Game tournament.
Then a familiar scenario played out.
Late in the final-round match between Rock and Mankind, the People's Champion locked Mankind in a Sharpshooter and McMahon called for the bell. Confusion reigned supreme as deja vu set in. McMahon, his son Shane and The Rock embraced in the center of the squared circle, celebrating the fact that they had duped the entire world.
What was shocking was not that Rock won the WWE title, nor that he aligned with the McMahons and turned his back on the fans in the process—although it was a bit surprising. What was shocking was that the company saw a hot, rapidly rising young Superstar and chose not to strike while the iron was hot.
They recognized that fans wanted to cheer Rock, that fans found him wildly entertaining, and knew they still would when the time came to turn him for good. Vince McMahon and head writer Vince Russo deserve a ton of credit for staying the course and telling the story they wanted to without giving into impulse.
It worked out better for everyone involved in the long run.
Mankind would gain a measure of revenge against Rock on January 4, 1999 by defeating him and earning his first WWE Championship. The rivalry between the polar opposite Superstars would entertain millions for months, leading into WrestleMania XV, where Steve Austin spoiled Rock's—and the rest of the Corporation's—reign of terror over WWE.
12. Breaking Tables and Making History (1995)
In the 18 years that have followed the 1995 Survivor Series, it has become commonplace to see Superstars be put through tables. In fact, there are specialty matches where the only way to win is to do just that.
But when WWE Champion Diesel sent Bret Hart off the ring apron and through the announcers' table, it was nothing short of shocking.
The violence and high-impact, high-risk moves that would become a staple of the promotion even as early as a year later had not overtaken the product. No Disqualification matches were a big deal, and the spot that saw Hart crash through the table was fresh, exciting and awe-inspiring.
It played right into the stipulation of the match and added to what was already an outstanding championship bout.
In 1996, Shawn Michaels would build upon the momentum, using spots involving the announcers' tables to pop an audience or add a new element to a match. Soon after, it became the norm to work a spot involving an announcers' table (preferably the Spanish one) into a high-profile match.
Bret would go on to defeat Diesel and capture his third WWE Championship in what some consider the best match in the career of Diesel (Kevin Nash) and further proof that Hart was one of the smartest workers in the industry.
11. Team DX Dominates (2006)
The revival of D-Generation X in 2006 provided fans with a number of entertaining, if not stupid, moments. Shawn Michaels and Triple H had erased the staleness. The group's rivalry with the McMahon family in the summer gave way to a battle with Randy Orton and Edge for Monday Night Raw superiority.
Edge had enjoyed a star-making year that saw him capture the WWE Championship twice and become one of the most interesting and entertaining performers. Orton, on the other hand, remained a key part of WWE booking but had found himself in trouble on more than once occasion, resulting in a suspension shortly after WrestleMania XXII.
At the Survivor Series, DX would lead a team of Superstars against a team co-captained by Edge and Orton. The bout would feature several very talented individuals and the potential to be one of the best traditional elimination tag matches in event history.
What occurred once the bell rang and the match was underway would be far from what was expected.
Triple H, Michaels, Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy and CM Punk (who received the loudest pop of the match), eliminated the opposing team one-by-one with little challenge to their dominance. Mike Knox, Johnny Nitro, Gregory Helms, Edge and Orton would be dispatched of in impressive fashion.
The victors would celebrate as a group before a rabid Philadelphia crowd.
The match was a fun one that featured clever comedy spots and kept the fans, both in attendance and watching at home, entertained.
While some may argue that the match was essentially an elongated burial of the heel team, the match was really just a harmless midcard pay-per-view match that did what it was meant to do and nothing more.
10. Sweet Chin Music Floors Triple H (2009)
Both heavyweight title matches at the 2009 Survivor Series event were Triple Threat bouts that featured the champion defending against the top tag teams in the company.
The main event would see John Cena put his WWE Championship on the line against D-Generation X's Triple H and Shawn Michaels.
As friends and partners, it would have made perfect sense if Michaels and Triple H chose to work together to pick Cena apart before battling it for the right to leave the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. with the most coveted prize in the sport in their possession.
What happened instead set the tone for the match, which would be a chaotic battle between three of professional wrestling's elite stars.
Triple H and Michaels stood side-by-side in what looked like a united front against Cena.
Then the bell rang and Michaels delivered Sweet Chin Music to his friend, knocking him through the ropes and to the arena floor.
The act elicited a huge reaction from the crowd and added to the "every man for himself" nature of the match type.
Cena would go on to retain his title and, a month later, D-X would defeat Chris Jericho and Big Show to become tag champions.
The match had very little, if any, historical significance but will be remembered forever for the sudden, unexpected dose of Sweet Chin Music.
9. Hulk Hogan Is Counted Out, Robbing Fans of Monumental Showdown (1987)
The 1987 Survivor Series was an experimental pay-per-view created by Vince McMahon to capitalize on the tremendous success of WrestleMania III and the Hulk Hogan-Andre the Giant main event.
The headlining bout of the new show would feature teams captained by each competitor doing battle in an elimination tag match. The rules were simple: If a Superstar was pinned, submitted, counted out or disqualified, they would be eliminated, leaving their team at a numbers disadvantage.
The match would only end after every member of one of the teams had been defeated.
Heading into the November 26 event, it was a given that fans would get to see Hogan and Andre lock it up on a major WWE production for the second time that year.
Those fans would be disappointed when Hogan was counted out and eliminated from the match at around the 18-minute mark, thanks in large part to King Kong Bundy and One Man Gang preventing him from returning to the ring.
The fans in Richfield, Ohio were stunned by the developments. They then watched as a big, young, athletic Bam Bam Bigelow put up an admirable fight only to fall at the hands of the bigger, stronger, more determined Andre.
Hogan would return to the ring and get a measure of revenge by blasting Andre in the face with the WWE title, sending the big man over the top rope and to the arena floor, but the shock of being robbed a little more Hogan-Andre was still fresh in their minds.
Though The Hulkster would play to the crowd to end the night's festivities, it was the 7'4'' Andre who proved to the world that he remained a threat to Hogan and the WWE Championship.
8. A Sychotic Title Win (1996)
Shawn Michaels won his first WWE Championship in an iconic Iron Man match at WrestleMania XII and held the title throughout the spring and summer of 1996. During his lengthy title reign, he defended against Superstars of all shapes, sizes and styles.
And he beat them all.
Everyone from Diesel to the British Bulldog to Vader to Mankind fell in defeat at the hands of the Heartbreak Kid.
Despite business being down, it felt like Vince McMahon was prepared to continue to ride with Michaels as the top star in his promotions.
Then Sycho Sid returned to the company in July and became far more popular with the audience than anyone could have imagined. The 6'7'', 300-plus pound big man had a unique character, and the crowd really embraced the psychotic demeanor the Arkansas native brought to it.
Still, when it was announced that Michaels would defend his title against his on-air friend at the Survivor Series, it felt like HBK's title reign was safe.
The crowd was hot for the main event title bout but, to the surprise of some, heavily voiced their support for Sid.
Despite a heel turn late in the match that saw Sid blast Michaels' trainer Jose Lothario with a camera, then do the same to the champion, the fans still cheered the title change.
It made sense that Sid would eventually win the WWE title. He had everything that McMahon looked for in a top star and was over with the audience. But Michaels was so hot in 1996, and his title run still had a lot of steam left in it.
Add to that the fact that Michaels and Bret Hart seemed destined for a rematch at WrestleMania XIII, and the Sid title win seemingly came out of left field.
7. Justice Is Served (2012)
The main event of the 2012 edition of Survivor Series saw WWE Champion CM Punk defend his title against John Cena and Ryback.
With Cena involved, the chances of a title change are always high, while Ryback had become the flavor of the month and a strong contender to take the championship from Punk at some point in time. Punk, on the other hand, had been champion for a year in an era when titles switched hands every few months.
Add all of that up, and there was reason to believe that the man referred to as the Best in the World would be leaving Indianapolis without a key piece of jewelry.
Punk did just enough to avoid a situation where he was primed to be pinned, but after 15 minutes of action, it looked like his days atop the WWE were coming to a close.
Then it happened.
Three young assailants hit the ring and assaulted Ryback, delivering a triple powerbomb through the announcers' table. This allowed Punk to pin Cena, who had been taken out of commission moments earlier, courtesy of a Shell Shock from Ryback.
The three attackers would be revealed to be Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns, three standouts from WWE's developmental territory NXT. They would be known collectively as The Shield and would go on to produce some of the best matches in WWE over the year that followed.
The immediate impact they made on WWE and the significant role they would play afterwards makes The Shield's debut in 2012 the most shocking Survivor Series moment of the last decade.
6. The World's Largest Champion (1999)
Survivor Series 1999 was originally scheduled to have a main event that undoubtedly would have gone down as the most star-studded in WWE history.
Triple H was slated to defend his WWE Championship against "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and The Rock in a Triple Threat Match. There were a number of intriguing angles at play in the match, including The Game's conflict with WWE owner Vince McMahon, Austin's budding rivalry with the champion, The Rock's return to the title picture and his first major interaction with Austin since turning face months earlier.
Unfortunately, Austin's neck was in rough shape and in need of surgery.
An angle shot during the pay-per-view broadcast saw Austin run over by an unknown assailant. The incident erased him from the match and left an open spot for another Superstar to fill, if the company wished to go in that direction.
They did and The Big Show, it turned out, was that Superstar.
Big Show had been embroiled in a heated, personal rivalry with Big Boss Man, who was in the middle of one of the truly great heel runs of any Superstar at the time. The Cobb County, Georgia native had poked fun at the storyline death of Show's father in weeks leading to the event, eliciting emotion from the giant most did not know he was capable of.
At Survivor Series, Big Show dominated and destroyed Boss Man's team, tearing through Mideon, Albert and Viscera in one minute. He never did get his hands on Boss Man, leaving that showdown to occur at a later time.
When the World's Largest Athlete was added to the WWE title match, it took fans by surprise. Sure, he had been involved in angles involving main event talent throughout the year, but a midcard feud with the Boss Man hardly screamed "WWE Champion."
When he won the title, that surprise became utter shock. It was so completely unexpected that no one saw it coming. The unpredictability of the title switch left fans buzzing about the event.
5. The World's Largest Champion, Part Deux (2002)
The year 2002 saw the rise of Brock Lesnar to stardom in World Wrestling Entertainment.
He cleanly defeated Superstars such as The Rock, The Undertaker, Hulk Hogan and the Hardy Boyz and was booked as an absolutely unstoppable beast of an athlete. He won the WWE Championship at SummerSlam in August and had yet to meet his equal between the ropes.
The return of the Big Show to the main event scene provided him with a man larger than himself to throw around the ring and get over just how dominant he actually was.
When the WWE Championship match between Lesnar and Big Show was booked for Survivor Series, many figured it would be a showcase for the champion.
And they were right.
What they could not have predicted was that Lesnar's title reign would come to an end after only three months and at the hands of a wrestler not nearly over enough to have earned the right to end the Next Big Thing's undefeated streak.
The finish of the bout would see Paul Heyman turn heel, betraying Lesnar and revealing his alliance with the gigantic challenger.
Lesnar would chase his manager around the ringside area before running into a chokeslam onto a steel chair by Big Show. To the shock and awe of the Madison Square Garden audience, Lesnar would have his shoulders pinned to the mat for the first time and lose the WWE title to a Superstar who, a month earlier, was having his fair share of difficulty defeating little Spike Dudley.
While Big Show's title win in 1999 was unpredictability at its best, his win three years later was an example of unpredictability at its worst.
It was becoming abundantly clear that the fans were ready to cheer Lesnar, and those inside the most famous arena in the world backed it up with their rabid support of him. And with any potential babyface turn came a split between he and Heyman.
So it was safe to say that a Heyman betrayal and alliance with Big Show was coming at some point. But the idea of Big Show beating Lesnar after a year of irrelevancy was absolutely ludicrous.
Lesnar would recover and go on to defeat Kurt Angle for his second WWE title at WrestleMania XIX, but his aura of invincibility vanished the moment the referee's hand slapped the mat for a third time five months earlier.
4. Birth of a Phenom (1990)
Unbeknownst to the fans watching live and on television sets around the world, the 1990 Survivor Series would feature the debut of a Superstar who would become one of the most respected and accomplished in World Wrestling Entertainment.
The Undertaker's debut would be a shocking Survivor Series moment in that no one had ever seen anything like him before. He was dark, mysterious, enigmatic and his size added to the gimmick immensely.
The fact that he dominated competition such as Jim Neidhart and Hall of Famers Bret Hart, Dusty Rhodes and Koko B. Ware only added to the mystique and aura surrounding the new character.
The Undertaker would be counted out of the match but would go on to terrorize the Vince McMahon-owned promotion for the next year.
By the time the 1991 edition of the event rolled around, the Dead Man would once again shock the wrestling world.
3. New WWE Champion...Bob Backlund? (1994)
The rivalry between Bret and Owen Hart that began a year earlier at the same event reared its ugly head on November 23, 1994 as Bret defended the WWE Championship against Bob Backlund, the improbable No. 1 contender who saw a career renaissance in the fall.
The match would be a Submission Match and would end only when one of the competitor's representatives threw a towel in the ring on behalf of their friend.
"British Bulldog" Davey Boy Smith represented Bret while Backlund was seconded by Owen Hart, whose disdain for his brother was still raging after a year of hard-fought matches between them.
Champion and challenger had an outstanding wrestling match that lasted just over 35 minutes and showcased the technical ability of both Superstars. Late in the bout, Backlund locked Bret in his patented crossface chicken wing.
Prior to the application of the hold, Owen snuck around the ring and laid Smith out, leaving no one to throw in the towel on Bret's behalf.
The longer Backlund kept the hold locked in and the longer Hart was left to suffer in the grasp of his opponent, the easier it was for Owen to convince his mother Martha, who had been in the audience for the match, to throw the towel in and end her son's suffering.
She did and, 10 years after losing the very same title to the Iron Sheik in Madison Sqaure Garden, Backlund hoisted the WWE Championship in victory.
For a company who was heavily promoting what it called the "New Generation" of stars, it was a very surreal moment to see Backlund achieve the level of success he did that night.
Unfortunately for him, his reign would last a mere three days as he lost to Diesel in a stunning upset inside the same Madison Square Garden in which he lost his title the first time.
2. Hogan's Title Reign Rests...In...Peace (1991)
The 1991 Survivor Series featured the first WWE Championship match in event history.
Hulk Hogan entered the evening's main event as champion, having defeated Sgt. Slaughter for the title way back in March at WrestleMania VII. His opponent for the evening would be the new phenom of World Wrestling Entertainment, a Superstar who had spent the previous 12 months destroying any opponent put in front of him.
He was The Undertaker, and one year after making his debut at the same event, he would defeat Hogan and capture his first WWE title.
The win did not come without controversy, however.
Late in the match, the self-proclaimed "real world's champion," Ric Flair, made his way to ringside. This provided a distraction for Hogan, who flattened Flair with a big right hand. That would lead Flair to recover and slide a chair into the ring. A Tombstone piledriver by Undertaker onto the weapon would end Hogan's eight-month run as champion.
Almost as shocking as Undertaker's title victory was the crowd response. The fans in Detroit, tired of the same boring Hogan shtick, booed The Hulkster and erupted into a huge ovation when the referee's hand slapped the mat for the third time.
While Hogan would not leave until 1993, Undertaker's win was the unofficial changing of the guard. He had already made a huge impact on television and, along with Jake Roberts, had really ushered in an era of darker, more sadistic villains.
Of course, Undertaker would become one of the company's most popular and enduring stars by the time WrestleMania VIII rolled around in April of '92, but he played a major role in the changing of the mood around World Wrestling Entertainment early in the 1990s.
1. Montreal Screwjob (1997)
The word "Montreal" elicits all types of responses from professional wrestling fans.
Some side with Bret Hart, others side with Vince McMahon and Shawn Michaels. Still others are conspiracy theorists that believe the events of November 9, 1997 were part of one big angle.
Whether it was or was not is irrelevant.
The sight of Michaels applying the Sharpshooter to Hart, the master of the hold, and McMahon calling for the bell is an iconic one in pro wrestling history. Equally as iconic is the imagery of McMahon wiping spit from his face and Hart destroying production equipment as the the evening's event came to an end.
The events of that night, known forever as the Montreal Screwjob, changed professional wrestling in ways that have been well-documented over the years that followed.
It was the launching point for the revolutionary Mr. McMahon character, the last stand for Hart in the company he helped carry for the five years that preceded the controversial WWE Championship match and the unofficial beginning of the Attitude Era that would carry professional wrestling to heights it had never before seen.
This match was not only one of the most shocking moments in the history of Survivor Series but also professional wrestling.