Since its inception in 1987, WWE’s Survivor Series has been a staple of the professional wrestling calendar. Over the years, this annual event has evolved in various ways, from its match format to its role in WWE’s storytelling. As we look back on the history of Survivor Series and ahead to its future, we can see how it has continually adapted to the changing landscape of sports entertainment.
The Birth of Survivor Series
Survivor Series made its debut on Thanksgiving Day in 1987. Created by WWE Chairman Vince McMahon, it was designed as a response to the success of Jim Crockett Promotions’ “Starrcade” event, which traditionally took place on Thanksgiving. Survivor Series was WWE’s way of going head-to-head with their competition and creating a unique, must-see event.
The original concept of Survivor Series was built around elimination-style tag team matches. Teams of five (or sometimes four) faced off, with the goal of eliminating all members of the opposing team. This format immediately set Survivor Series apart from other WWE pay-per-views and created a sense of teamwork and tension that would define the event for years to come.
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The Golden Era
Throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, Survivor Series was a showcase for WWE’s most popular and iconic Superstars. It was during this time that some of the most memorable moments in the event’s history occurred. Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior, Randy Savage, and The Undertaker all left their mark on Survivor Series during this period.
In 1991, Survivor Series introduced a new twist by featuring “The Undertaker’s debut.” This marked the beginning of a storied career for one of WWE’s most legendary characters. The Undertaker’s presence at Survivor Series would become a tradition in itself, and “The Deadman” would go on to win numerous matches and accolades at the event.
The Attitude Era and Beyond
As WWE transitioned into the Attitude Era in the late 1990s, Survivor Series continued to evolve. While the elimination-style tag team matches remained a staple, the event began to include other types of matches, such as “Buried Alive” and “Hell in a Cell.” The storytelling became edgier and more intense, reflecting the changing tastes of the audience.
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One of the most memorable moments of the Attitude Era at Survivor Series was the “Montreal Screwjob” in 1997. This infamous incident saw Bret Hart’s controversial departure from WWE and remains one of the most talked-about events in wrestling history.
Survivor Series also became known for its “Brand Warfare” during the early 2000s. The concept pitted WWE’s two flagship shows, Raw and SmackDown, against each other in a battle for brand supremacy. This period saw an emphasis on interpromotional matches and was a precursor to the current landscape of WWE, with its multiple brands and annual draft.
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Today, Survivor Series continues to be a highlight of WWE’s calendar. However, its format and focus have evolved once again. While the elimination-style tag team matches are still part of the event, the focus has shifted to champion vs. champion matches, where champions from Raw and SmackDown face off. This concept creates dream matches that fans have longed to see.
Additionally, Survivor Series has expanded to include NXT, WWE’s third major brand. This inclusion adds an extra layer of excitement, as fans get to see the best of Raw, SmackDown, and NXT collide in the ring.
The Future of Survivor Series
Looking ahead, Survivor Series is likely to continue evolving to meet the changing tastes and expectations of WWE’s fanbase. The event’s legacy of showcasing WWE’s biggest and most iconic stars will persist, but the format and the stories told within the ring will undoubtedly adapt to new trends and technologies. The integration of virtual reality, augmented reality, and interactive elements could further enhance the fan experience.
In conclusion, Survivor Series has come a long way since its debut in 1987. It has adapted to the times, shifting from traditional elimination-style matches to champion vs. champion bouts. While its roots remain in showcasing WWE’s top talents, the event will undoubtedly continue to evolve and captivate fans for many years to come. As long as WWE continues to innovate and tell compelling stories, Survivor Series will remain a crucial part of the wrestling landscape, looking back at its rich history and ahead to an even brighter future.