Ahhh the traditions of the season as the costumes are put away, the candy is all eaten, and Thanksgiving approaches. Everyone starts really getting into the holiday spirit at this time of year with the weather changing, decorations starting to be put up, and big meals on the way for all. But wrestling fans really start looking forward to Thanksgiving because it always signals when the WWE puts on their annual Pay Per View entitled Survivor Series. Starting over twenty years ago in 1987, the Survivor Series began as a night of who could come out on top and persevere through multiple opponents. While things have changed a bit as time has gone on, it still remains one of my favorite shows every single year and it gives a brand new meaning to the phrase, “only the strong survive.” Nothing says “I’m thankful” like a bunch of grown men and women beating the hell out of one another.
When the Survivor Series began, it was defined as a PPV that was much different then the others shown throughout the year. Tag team matches full of virtually random partnerships would pit their strengths against other teams in hopes of eliminating every one of their opposition and coming out the victor. It was always awesome to see some of the teams that were put together and then who they would end up going against. Watching my favorite tag team Demolition join forces with one of my favorite wrestlers Jake Roberts just blew my mind as a kid. Some time later it was really cool to watch all the survivors from the elimination tag matches team together at the end of the night to come out as the “ultimate survivor.” Sadly the traditional style of the PPV has changed drastically and there came a time when we’d be lucky to get even one elimination tag match. The WWE has heard the fans and given us a few more at recent events, but the days of old are what I really long for and for the first time ever…they’re now all on DVD for me to enjoy.
Our second volume in Survivor Series: The Anthology begins with the event from 1992 that saw complete and drastic changes to the famed format of the PPV. There was sadly only one traditional elimination tag match on the card and it wasn’t even one anyone would really care about. Singles matches with uninteresting match-ups like Tatanka/Rick Martel, Big Boss Man/Nailz, and Yokozuna/Virgil (really?) filled up the card making the night even duller. Even a coffin match between Undertaker and “The Ugandan Giant” Kamala was boring as can be. The only things that saved this PPV from being a total disaster were a big name tag team match and the main event pitting Bret Hart against Shawn Michaels. This should have been a quick lesson to the WWE and it was, but not for long.
Next up is the 1993 Survivor Series that saw a change back to the elimination tag matches which had made the event so famous to begin with. One of the best matches of the evening saw Shawn Michaels led a team of masked knights up against the wrestling famous Hart family led by the Hit Man. This would mark the beginning of a long and incredible feud between Bret Hart and his brother Owen. The other matches on the card really didn’t provide all that much entertainment and seemed to kind of just be there. I mean how much sense does it make to have a team comprised of four Doink the Clowns and not one of them is the actual real guy? Never have understood that since Doink was the guy actually feuding with the opposing team captain, Bam Bam Bigelow.
1994’s event kept the tradition up and the format virtually the same with a card consisting of three traditional matches and two singles’ bouts. Bret Hart and Bob Backlund battled for the WWE Title in a submission match that saw two masters of unique submission holds fight for control. Undertaker and Yokozuna fought to the “death” in a casket match that many may consider epic simply because Chuck Norris was included in it. The elimination tag matches saw some decent pairings as well including a team managed by “Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase which automatically made anyone on it that much cooler. I really could have done without the Doink and Jerry Lawler teams that consisted of nothing but midgets though. That really never makes for what can be considered a fun time.
The fifth PPV in this set took place in 1995 and again featured two singles’ matches; the better of two which pitted the WWE Champion Diesel against the much smaller challenger, Bret “Hit Man” Hart. The Underdogs versus the Bodydonnas elimination tag match is not one that really garners much interest from me because I could care less about almost everyone involved. The women’s elimination tag also wasn’t that big a selling point for me because I recognize maybe two names out of all eight of the competitors. The other two traditional style matches though are very good with the Wild-Card bout featuring nothing but entertaining wrestlers, most of which were always underrated. And I have a soft spot for anything involving the Undertaker’s Ministry so seeing “The Dark Side” battle King Mabel and the Royals made this a fun event for me.
Our final Survivor Series PPV showed me that the focus of the WWE was more so on the three singles’ matches more so than the elimination tag bouts. Three huge matches showcased this card including a one-on-one battle between Undertaker and Mankind. It certainly would not be the last that these two would meet nor would it be their most memorable. Shawn Michaels faced off against Sycho Sid for the WWE Championship in decent enough match, but nothing over the top. Bret Hart and Steve Austin though would be the thieves of the show in a thirty minute semi-classic. The other three matches were all traditional style but the only one that really drew much interest was one that saw a young Rock (Rocky Maivia) take a backseat to Marc Mero and the Stalker. HA!
Disc 1 – Survivor Series 1992
~ Nightstick Match: Big Boss Man Vs. Nailz
Disc 2 – Survivor Series 1993
~ Tatanka Vs. “The Model” Rick Martel
~ Randy “Macho Man” Savage & Mr. Perfect Vs. “Nature Boy” Ric Flair & Razor Ramon
~ Yokozuna Vs. Virgil
~ Survivor Series Elimination Match: The Beverly Brothers & Money Inc. Vs. The Natural Disasters & The Nasty Boys
~ Coffin Match: Undertaker Vs. Kamala
~ WWE Championship Match: Bret “Hit Man” Hart Vs. Shawn Michaels
~ Survivor Series Elimination Match: Razor Ramon, Randy “Macho Man” Savage, Marty Jannetty, 1-2-3 Kid Vs. Irwin R. Schyster, Diesel, “The Model” Rick Martel, & Adam Bomb
Disc 3 – Survivor Series 1994
~ Family Feud Match: The Hart Family Vs. Shawn Michaels & His Knights
~ Smokey Mountain Tag Team Championship Match: Rock ‘N’ Roll Express Vs. Heavenly Bodies
~ Survivor Series Elimination Match: The Four Doinks Vs. Team Bam Bam
~ Survivor Series Elimination Match: All-Americans Vs. Foreign Fanatics
~ Survivor Series Elimination Match: The Bad Guys Vs. The Teamsters
Disc 4 – Survivor Series 1995
~ Survivor Series Elimination Match: The Royal Family Vs. Clowns R’ Us
~ Submission Match for the WWE Championship: Bret “Hit Man” Hart w/ British Bulldog Vs. Bob Backlund w/ Owen Hart
~ Survivor Series Elimination Match: Million Dollar Team Vs. Pride & Glory
~ Casket Match with Special Trouble-Shooting Referee Chuck Norris: Undertaker Vs. Yokozuna
~ Survivor Series Elimination Match: The Underdogs Vs. The Bodydonnas
Disc 5 – Survivor Series 1996
~ Survivor Series Elimination Match: Alundra Blayze, Kyoko Inoue, Sakie Hasegawa, & Chaparita Asari Vs. Bertha Faye, Aja Kong, Tomoko Watanabe, & Lioness Asuka
~ Bam Bam Bigelow Vs. Goldust
~ Survivor Series Elimination Match: The Dark Side Vs. The Royals
~ Survivor Series Wild-Card Elimination Match: Owen Hart, Yokozuna, Dean Douglas, & Razor Ramon Vs. British Bulldog, Sycho Sid, Ahmed Johnson, & Shawn Michaels
~ WWE Championship Match: Bret “Hit Man” Hart Vs. Diesel
~ Survivor Series Elimination Match: The Godwinns, Doug Furnas, & Phil LaFon Vs. British Bulldog, Owen Hart, Leif Cassidy, & Marty Jannetty
~ Undertaker Vs. Mankind
~ Survivor Series Elimination Match: Marc Mero, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, The Stalker, & The Rock Vs. Jerry “The King” Lawler, Goldust, Triple H, & Crush
~ Bret “Hit Man” Hart Vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin
~ Survivor Series Elimination Match: Savio Vega, Yokozuna, Flash Funk, & Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka Vs. Faarooq, Vader, Razor Ramon, & Diesel
~ WWE Championship Match: Shawn Michaels Vs. Sycho Sid
The events are shown in 1.33:1 Full Screen format and all look excellent from start to finish. No problems here even with the age that all of the events have on them.
The events are heard in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound making them come through every speaker with great audio. All commentary is heard loud and clear from the center speaker while the speakers around the room keep the entrance themes blaring and the crowd noise right next to you.
Maybe this volume wasn’t as good as the first, but it still provides plenty of fun and good matches to keep you entertained for hours. The traditional Survivor Series matches stay the main focus of all the events except of course for the 1992 event which tried to stray and would pave the way for PPVs in the future. Blech. All in all this is a pretty good set and keeps the Thanksgiving alive, but you can certainly tell that it became a staple in the early nineties to always have a WWE Championship match on every single PPV. If you ask me, that comes back to bite them in the ass later on. With a PPV each month now, it wouldn’t hurt to keep the Survivor Series with a specific format and just let random teams of wrestlers battle it out against those you’d usually not see them in the ring with. Can ya do that please? I’ll be ever so…thankful.
WWE Home Video presents Survivor Series The Anthology: 1992 – 1996. Featuring: Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Steve Austin, Yokozuna, Undertaker, Goldust, Lex Luger, and many more. Running time: 900 minutes on 5 discs. Rating: PG. Released on DVD: November 3, 2009. Available at Amazon.com