POLLOCK'S UPDATE: The History of the Survivor Series

Originally published at POLLOCK'S UPDATE: The History of the Survivor Series


Tonight: Rewind-A-SmackDown with John Pollock & Wai Ting (POST Wrestling Café)
WWE Survivor Series review
Sunday: Collision Course with Kate from Montreal & John Siino (POST Wrestling Café)

This month’s ASK-A-WAI Mailbag Show is out for all POST Wrestling Café members. Wai & I answered questions about the future of WWE and Saudi Arabia beyond their ten-year deal, criticism of AEW’s storylines, the process of how we vet advertisers at the site, Survivor Series vs. War Games, the Nexus angle from 2010, Stanley Weston, home ownership, Nortel & more.


The 37th annual Survivor Series is Saturday night from the Allstate Arena in Chicago, which has previously hosted the event in 1989 and 2019.

The event was created as the WWF expanded its pay-per-view schedule beyond WrestleMania and opted to run on U.S. Thanksgiving on the same night as Jim Crockett Promotion’s flagship event, Starrcade.  The cable companies anticipated this being a positive as Starrcade could run in the afternoon and Survivor Series in the evening and it being presented as a full day of professional wrestling on the holiday. WWF was not running this event with that purpose in mind and in 1987, sleep was not its competition, JCP was.

WWF pulled an ultimatum for the cable companies that any providers that carried Starrcade would be unable to carry the following year’s WrestleMania event. This was after the massive success of Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant earlier in the year and WWF has risen in the national spotlight. The result was 210+ carriers opted to go with Survivor Series and merely five carrying Starrcade – a massive blow to the event and no doubt expedited the issues JCP encountered in 1988 and being forced to sell by the end of that year.

The juice left in the Hogan and Andre program after WrestleMania 3 had a cascading effect on several major shows for the company. The feud was the basis of the first Survivor Series with each man leading his team in an elimination match and the first time the two had met since WrestleMania. The next year, Hogan and Andre’s rematch on The Main Event attracted a record 33 million viewers on NBC and a number that no WWE television match will ever hit again, and again the two were placed on opposite sides to headline the first SummerSlam.

Survivor Series became the Thanksgiving Week tradition for the company running on the holiday itself until 1991 when it moved to Thanksgiving Eve and became a Wednesday night card until 1994 when it found its regular placement on Sundays until the recent move to Saturday.

The 1991 show saw the experiment of shooting a major angle with The Undertaker defeating Hulk Hogan for the WWF Championship to come back on pay-per-view a week later with Tuesday in Texas similar to the All In and All Out experiment by AEW this year. WWF never tried the idea again and didn’t add a December pay-per-view until four years later when it expanded to a monthly schedule.

The most famous show in the franchise’s history was in 1997 with Shawn Michaels defeating Bret Hart at the Molson Center in Montreal. Beyond all the historical ramifications, it was the only year that Survivor Series outdrew WrestleMania on pay-per-view and was a testament to the heat of the program and a rematch that was eighteen months in the making and those following the industry news being aware of Hart’s pending departure for WCW. Hart’s deal with WCW would not begin for several weeks and even had a verbal agreement from Eric Bischoff to work the December In Your House event but November 9, 1997, would be his final WWF match until 2010. The finish would be among the most parodied in wrestling history with every attempt to recreate the drama of the legitimate fallout. It included the next year’s Survivor Series with a one-night tournament for the vacant WWF Championship won by The Rock, who defected to The Corporation and beat Mankind with a Sharpshooter and Vince McMahon calling for the bell.

In 2001, the event was the backdrop for the climax of one of the most disappointing stories in company history with the elimination of The Alliance and the Invasion angle. What was expected to be the catalyst for endless angles, dream matches, split shows, and ideas ended after a few months with a Survivor Series elimination match won by Team WWF and beating the “invaders” Steve Austin, Shane McMahon, Kurt Angle, Booker T. & Rob Van Dam. After the July Invasion pay-per-view drew approximately 775,000 buys on pay-per-view, and the big climactic end to the story dropped to 450,000 buys.

Throughout the 2000s, the Survivor Series continued based on name recognition, although it was tested. After one disappointing year, Vince McMahon contemplated shelving the name but it was saved and continues as the second longest-running event in company history. The Raw vs. SmackDown attempts over the years rarely clicked with the audience and the traditional Survivor Series model has ironically ceded to the more popular and fresh War Games concept that was birthed in JCP. After years of War Games being thrown out as an idea, it was finally resurrected in 2017 in NXT and became a yearly staple after acquiring the IP in a deal with MLW and becoming the November tradition. In 2022, it was adopted on the main roster with the perfect backdrop for a match built around The Bloodline as the top group in the company. This year’s show places Judgment Day in the top heel team position as the group has greatly improved its standing since a rocky launch and now serves as the catalysts on Raw each week.

This year’s show has enormous demand and will likely be the largest-grossing event in the franchise’s history when the numbers are revealed. Over 17,100 tickets have been distributed with a complete sellout expected and over 33,000 distributed between SmackDown and Survivor Series at Allstate Arena, per WrestleTix. Last year’s show at the TD Garden in Boston drew 12,375 and a gate of $1,574,882 according to Pollstar. Wrestlenomics has a story out today going over the past performances of Survivor Series events and notes the largest WWE gate at the Allstate Arena in history was WrestleMania 22 in April 2006 with $2.5 million ($3.8 million with inflation) and would be the figures that Saturday’s show could threaten.

The lineup for Saturday’s premium live event:  
*Men’s War Games Match: Finn Balor, Damian Priest, Drew McIntyre, Dominik Mysterio & JD McDonagh vs. Seth Rollins, Cody Rhodes, Jey Uso, Sami Zayn & Randy Orton
*Women’s War Games Match: IYO SKY, Bayley, Kairi Sane & Asuka vs. Bianca Belair, Charlotte Flair, Shotzi & Becky Lynch
*Intercontinental Championship: Gunther © vs. The Miz
*Women’s Championship: Rhea Ripley © vs. Zoey Stark
*Santos Escobar vs. Carlito


**Friday Night SmackDown is on FS1 tonight due to NCAA football on Fox, so it will be a diminished audience compared to usual. Last month, SmackDown reached its largest audience ever on the cable platform with 1,145,000 viewers and that was with significantly stronger competition due to the World Series airing that night. Tonight’s show is the first of two at the Allstate Arena for Survivor Series weekend with approximately 16,566 tickets distributed for SmackDown, per WrestleTix. The following has been announced for the show:
*Undisputed Tag Team Championships: Finn Balor & Damian Priest © vs. Street Profits
*Kevin Owens on The Grayson Waller Effect

**There is no episode of AEW Rampage tonight due to NHL coverage on TNT. Instead, Rampage & Collision will air in a three-hour block beginning at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday against the Survivor Series. The tapings air from the Peterson Events Center in Pittsburgh and only two matches have been announced so far. Collision will feature two Blue League matches in the Continental Classic with Claudio Castagnoli vs. Daniel Garcia and Eddie Kingston vs. Brody King. AEW has not announced Bryan Danielson for the show. This could be the toughest week for Collision since its launch going against such a big WWE event.

**Due to the holiday, U.S. viewership figures are going to be delayed for several days including Dynamite from Wednesday night. In Canada, Dynamite was moved from TSN 2 to TSN 5 and averaged approximately 68,000 viewers and 30,000 in the 25-54 demographic and didn’t rank among the top ten sports programs on Wednesday.

**Wrestlenomics did a study on the WWE live events from the past two months with comparisons to the last time they ran the same market to see how they’ve drawn in their returns. Of the 23 events analyzed, 19 increased when they returned and four were down. The largest market to increase was in San Antonio where a December 2021 edition of SmackDown drew 6,718 and their return this past October drew 14,149 for SmackDown featuring John Cena and led to a 111% increase. The markets to decrease were Evansville, Indiana (8,411 in Feb. 2023 to 5,990 last week), Columbus, Ohio (9,809 in April 2023 to 7,805 two weeks ago), Grand Rapids (8,951 in Feb. 2023 to 7,447 this past Monday for Raw), and Roanoke, Virginia (4,466 in Jan. 2023 to 3,951 on Nov. 12).

**NJPW’s World Tag League continues Saturday in Fujisawa and streams at 4 a.m. ET on New Japan World with A Block matches:
*A BLOCK: Great O-Khan & HENARE (1-1) vs. Mikey Nicholls & Shane Haste (2-0)
*A BLOCK: Kaito Kiyomiya & Ryohei Oiwa (1-1) vs. EVIL & Yujiro (1-1)
*A BLOCK: Alex Coughlin & Gabe Kidd (1-1) vs. Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano (1-1)
*A BLOCK: Shota Umino & Ren Narita (1-1) vs. Gates of Agony (0-2)
*El Phantasmo, Hikuleo & Jado vs. Yota Tsuji, Zandokan Jr. & BUSHI
*SANADA, Yuya Uemura, Taka Michinoku & DOUKI vs. Minoru Suzuki, Yuji Nagata, Master Wato & Tomoaki Honma
*Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI, Ryusuke Taguchi & YOH vs. Bad Luck Fale, Jack Bonza, Taiji Ishimori & Gedo
*Lance Archer, Alex Zayne & Oskar Leube vs. Atlantis Jr., Soberano Jr. & Oleg Boltin
*Yuto Nakashima vs. Katsuya Murashima

**All Japan’s Real-World Tag League continues on Sunday with Jun & Rei Saito (4-1) against Suwama & Hideki Suzuki (2-2) in the main event along with Katsuhiko Nakajima & Hokuto Omori (4-0) vs. Japan Tokyo Kuroshio & Seigo Tachibana (1-3), Hayato Tamura & Galeno del Mal (2-2) vs. Yukio Sakaguchi & Hideki Okatani (1-3), and Ryuki Honda & Yuma Anzai (1-2-1) vs. Cyrus & Ryan Davidson (2-2). The tournament is led by Nakajima & Omori with eight points including a win over the current AJPW tag champions, Jun & Rei Saito. The Real-World Tag League runs until December 6.

**C*4 Wrestling in Ottawa has its Sixteen Candles event tonight at the Preston Event Centre and is available next Tuesday on IWTV. The card has Kevin Blackwood vs. Junior Benito for the C*4 Championship, Alexia Nicole vs. Jody Threat for the Underground title, Pretty Ricky Willdy & Puf defend the tag titles against TBA, AKIRA vs. Evil Uno, Calvin Tankman vs. Gabriel Fuerza, The Mane Event & Macrae Martin vs. Benjamin Tull, FTM & Mathieu St-Jacques, Stu Grayson vs. Warhorse vs. Marcus Matchers, and a Six-Way Contendership Match with Brent Banks vs. Vaughn Vertigo vs. London Lightning, vs. Sheldon Jean vs. Myung Jae Lee vs. James Stone. It streams next Tuesday night at 8 p.m. ET on Independent Wrestling.

**Ethan Page announced that he has received his green card and has permanent resident status. Page thanked AEW for making this happen and sponsoring Page and his family. Page is originally from Hamilton, Ontario, and has been wrestling for seventeen years including running his own promotion, Alpha-1. He began wrestling for IMPACT Wrestling in November 2017 as Chandler Park before finding a permanent role under the Ethan Page moniker and forming a team with Josh Alexander as The North. After 2020, he departed IMPACT and signed with AEW and has been wrestling on Ring of Honor since September.

**Chamatkar Sandhu spoke with The Miz for TNT Sports to promote his match with Gunther at the Survivor Series.

**Mojo Rawley speaks with Swerve Strickland about the Texas Death Match with Hangman Page. Swerve noted that this past Saturday night was the two-year anniversary of his WWE release.


**The PFL Championship airs tonight on ESPN+ pay-per-view and through DAZN. It is the second attempt at pay-per-view after the 2022 championship finals, which did not fare well. While the lineup includes six tournament finals, the key fight is Kayla Harrison’s return one year after her last fight where she was upset by Larissa Pacheco. Harrison was scheduled to fight Julia Budd but an undisclosed issue with the promotion led to a replacement and Aspen Ladd fighting Harrison tonight. There is a spotlight on the company after the announcement of its acquisition of Bellator setting the stage for several big moves in 2024 and interesting fights to make. Ariel Helwani confirmed on Wednesday’s edition of The MMA Hour that all the fighter contracts are part of the acquisition with PFL chairman Donn Davis citing 210 fighters on the Bellator roster earlier in the week. There are plans to stage two pay-per-views next year with the idea of one being Francis Ngannou’s PFL debut. Davis has said that the company’s next U.S. rights deal is complete and will be announced in two weeks and are going to shop Bellator’s domestic and international TV rights.

MAIN CARD (8 p.m. ET on pay-per-view)

*Lightweight Final: Clay Collard (24-10) vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier (20-5)
*Heavyweight Final: Renan Ferreira (11-5) vs. Denis Goltsov (32-7)
*Welterweight Final: Magomed Magomedkerimov (33-6) vs. Sadiboy Sy (15-6-2)
*Light Heavyweight Final: Impa Kasanganay (14-3) vs. Josh Silveira (12-1)
*Kayla Harrison (15-1) vs. Aspen Ladd (11-4)
*Ray Cooper III (25-8-1) vs. Derek Brunson (23-9)

*Featherweight Final: Jesus Pinedo (18-5-1) vs. Gabriel Braga (12-0)
*Amateur Fight: Biaggio Ali Walsh (0-0) vs. Joel Lopez (2-2)
*Chris Wade (23-10) vs. Bubba Jenkins (21-6)
*Phil Caracappa (9-2) vs. Khai Wu (2-1)
*Josh Blyden (0-0) vs. Jesse Stirn (11-6)

**Kayla Harrison was on The MMA Hour and stated this was the final fight of her existing deal with PFL – based on her wording it sounded like the contract would expire at the end of the year with two fights available and since there won’t be time to squeeze in another fight, this is the last one. There is a legitimate possibility of putting together the elusive fight between Harrison and Cris Cyborg as Cyborg had just signed a new deal with Bellator and is now under the PFL umbrella. Harrison has made great money in the PFL through her tournament wins and being the star of the league since entering MMA. The UFC has essentially dropped its women’s featherweight division, so this would be the most viable option for her to compete. Harrison is a heavy favorite against Aspen Ladd, but it’s still been a year since she last fought and you can never fully assume how a fighter will respond after their first loss, so you can’t overlook Ladd.

**A featherweight fight on the prelims between Bubba Jenkins and Chris Wade was canceled after Wade missed weight on Thursday. Wade was announced at 148.4 pounds and Jenkins refused to take the fight at a catchweight. Jenkins will now serve as an alternate in case there is any issue with the featherweight championship fight between Jesus Pinedo and Gabriel Braga on the prelims. Wade and Jenkins previously fought in August 2021 with Wade winning by unanimous decision. (MMA Junkie)

**The UFC 298 pay-per-view on February 17 has a location. Dana White confirmed that the Honda Center in Anaheim, California will stage the event next year with a UFC Featherweight Championship fight between Alexander Volkanovski (26-3) and Ilia Topuria (14-0) in the headline position.

**Dana White also announced that the February 10 Fight Night card at the Apex will be headlined by a lightweight fight between Joe Pyfer (12-2) and Jack Hermansson (23-8). Pyfer came off the Contender Series and has won three fights in the UFC including a submission of Abdul Razak Alhassan last month. Hermansson is Pyfer’s biggest test yet, he has been fighting for the promotion since 2016 and last competed in December last year where he was stopped by Roman Dolidze.

ASK-A-WAI: Ask Us Anything! (November 2023)
John Pollock and Wai Ting answer their patrons’ questions about anything and everything in the November 2023 edition of Ask-A-Wai.
John Pollock and Wai Ting review the final AEW Dynamite featuring the start of the Continental Classic from the Wintrust Arena in Chicago.
John Pollock and Brandon Thurston are joined by Nick Hausman of Haus of Wrestling to discuss WWE & AEW coming to Chicago for Thanksgiving week.
Braden Herrington and Davie Portman review WWE NXT from November 21st, 2023 featuring Lyra Valkyria vs Xia Li for the NXT Women’s Championship!
Jordan Goodman and Wai Ting are joined by the POST wrestling community to discuss the concerts, bands, songs, and albums that have become the soundtracks to their lives.
John Pollock and Wai Ting review the final WWE Raw before Survivor Series featuring Drew McIntyre vs. Jey Uso in a War Games Advantage Match; Cody Rhodes announces his team’s fifth member.
Nate, Kris and Andrew are joined by Ray Williams & Chinyere Okafor to react to AEW Full Gear and talk about the biggest stories of the month.

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