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"Teams of five strive to survive."
—The Tagline of Survivor Series 88.
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Survivor Series is WWE's annual November pay-per-view event. It is one of the "Big Four" events, along with WrestleMania, the Royal Rumble and SummerSlam, as it is one of the original four pay-per-views produced by WWE.

Survivor Series is the second longest running pay-per-view event in WWE history, behind WrestleMania. The first Survivor Series, held in 1987, came on the heels of the incredible success of WrestleMania III, as the WWF began to see the lucrative potential of the pay-per-view market.

The event is usually characterized by having five on five (or sometimes four on four or six man) Tag Team elimination matches. These matches are generally referred to simply as "traditional Survivor Series matches". But the catch to Survivor Series is to be the sole survivor or survivors meaning that there is an elimination element to the match.

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"Tropes of five strive to survive":

  • Alliterative Title: Survivor Series.
  • All or Nothing: The "winner takes all" match between Team WWF and Team Alliance in 2001, which marked the end of The InVasion Angle, and even led the PPV to have the tagline "All or Nothing". The Rock of Team WWF pinned "Stone Cold" Steve Austin of The Alliance in order to win the match and save the WWF.
  • The Artifact: In 2009, WWE introduced a PPV called Bragging Rights that was about brand warfare - centred around Raw vs. SmackDown matches. It even featured a big multi-brand tag match, making Survivor Series rather redundant as a result.note  But with the brand split getting dissolved in 2011, Bragging Rights was abandoned. Since the split being reinstated, the Bragging Rights concept and scoreboard has been incorporated into Survivor Series itself.
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  • Artifact Title: Survivor Series originally revolved entirely around elimination style 8-man tag team matches, which gradually decreased in use until you'd be lucky to have one traditional SS match on the card, putting its titular match in the same "attraction surrounded by other things" ballpark as the Royal Rumble.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: While admittedly an Overly Narrow Superlative, as it was only WWE's fifth PPV at that point, André the Giant's team winning in the main event of the first Survivor Series was the first time a Heel had won in the main event.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: This is usually played straight, but there have been occasional aversions:
    • 2000: During a match between Lita and Ivory, the former suffered a nasty cut above the eye and bled heavily throughout the match.
    • 2002: Victoria ended up with a bloody nose during her hardcore match with Trish Stratus.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Sting to Team Cena in 2014.
  • Big "WHAT?!": Jerry Lawler let loose one for the ages when Sting showed up at the end of the 2014 main event.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Or in this case, the non-lethal variant of Black Dude Gets Eliminated First:
  • Bookends: The Undertaker began his WWE career on the November 22, 1990 event. Exactly thirty years later, at the 2020 event, he made his final farewell to the WWE Universe.
  • Broken Win/Loss Streak:
  • The Cameo:
    • ECW's The Public Enemy lost to the Smoking Gunns in a dark (non-televised) match before Survivor Series 1995.
    • An involutary one on WWE's part, but in 2018, former WWE wrestler Enzo Amore went to sit in the front row and did his old "My name is Enzo Amore" bit before being dragged out by security and getting himself banned from the Staples Center for life as a result.
  • The Chew Toy:
    • Triple H was winless at this event until 2005, and has only won thrice more (in 2006, 2007 and 2017) ever since.
    • Brock Lesnar hadn't won at all until 2017.
    • Lita did not have much luck at Survivor Series, and 2006 was especially unlucky for her, as she lost her retirement match.
  • Cool vs. Awesome: The 2017 edition had The Shield vs. The New Day, and boy, did it deliver.
  • Corpsing: At the 2007 event, during the Divas match, Melina slipped and fell off the apron as she was doing the splits. She was a Heel at the time but immediately broke character to burst out laughing.
  • Crossover: The Heavenly Bodies ("The Doctor of Desire" Tom Prichard and "Gigolo" Jimmy Del Ray, w/Jim Cornette) d. SMW Tag Team Champions The Rock 'n' Roll Express (Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson) for the titles at Survivor Series 1993.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The Divas match at the 2014 show saw none of the faces being eliminated from their team.
  • David Versus Goliath:
  • A Day in the Limelight:
    • The following have all been in main events at Survivor Series who normally would not have had that opportunity: Hillbilly Jim, Koko B. Ware (1988), Paul Roma (1990), Carlito and Chris Masters (2005).
    • The 2008 and 2009 Divas matches saw perpetual Jobber Jillian Hall getting to PPV for some of the only times in her career.
  • Debut Queue:
  • Dueling Shows: The kayfabe Raw and SmackDown! rivalry was often brought to the forefront at Survivor Series during the Brand Extension era, moreso than on any other pay per view. At the 2005 installment even the announcers were at each other's throats, spending more time insulting one another than commentating the final match (but it was admittedly hilarious to listen to regardless). During the second Brand Expansion, the ongoing storylines of both programs come to a pause in order to focus on the rivalry in the weeks before the show only for regular service to resume immediately after the card ends.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • Survivor Series was intended to be a Thanksgiving tradition, with the first eight shows taking place on Thanksgiving Day or Eve. After 1995, this was abandoned.
    • The first editions of the event had only traditional elimination matches on the card.
  • Enemy Mine: This is common in SmackDown! vs Raw Survivor Series matches, where teams may consist of both Faces and Heels.
  • Evil vs. Evil: On a few occasions.
    • Played With during the Main Event of the 1997 event. Both defending WWF champion Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels were Heels at the time, but the event took place in Canada which Bret and all the other Harts are treated as Faces by default. Retroactively, however, he is universally regarded as the face in the match.
    • The final moments of the 2008 Divas match between the Raw and Smackdown women came down to Beth Phoenix and Maryse - the top heels on their respective brands.
    • During 2017, Baron Corbin (the then-United States Champion) fought The Miz (the then-Intercontinental Champion), along with The Miztourage. Both were high-profile Heels.
    • The Main Event of the 2018 event features WWE champion Daniel Bryan and Universal Champion Brock Lesnar, both of whom are Heels (although the former was freshly turned).
    • In 2019 NXT was added to the mix, and an Evil vs Evil vs Evil match took place; United States Champion AJ Styles vs Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura vs North American Champion Roderick Strong.
    • The 2020 event features Bobby Lashley (the United States Champion) representing The Hurt Business, and Sami Zayn (the Intercontinental champion).
  • Face/Heel Double-Turn:
    • The Powers of Pain (The Warlord and the Barbarian) and Demolition, respectively in 1988.
    • The Rock and Mankind, respectively, in a rehash of the Montreal Screwjob in 1998. Mankind eventually won his WWF Championship on the January 4th edition of RAW, the same night as the infamous Tony Schiavone "butts in seats" quip and the Fingerpoke Of Doom on WCW Monday Nitro.
  • Flawless Victory:
  • Foreshadowing: The Ruthless Aggression Era famously gave previews/teasers of storylines heading to that season's WrestleMania.
    • Events leading to the 2002 event is where Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho first crossed paths.
    • The 2003 dropped several hints for the upcoming WrestleMania XX; from emphasis over Chris Benoit's submission prowess by making him one of his team's only two survivors alongside John Cena (he would win the World Heavyweight Championship at WM XX by making champion Triple H tap out), the rising tension between Cena and Big Show (Cena would go on to challenge Show at WM XX' for the latter's United States Championship and win it) and, most overly, Goldberg interrupting Brock Lesnar's interview (beginning their feud that would lead to their infamously poorly-received WM XX match, after which neither man would step into a WWE ring for years), and Kane interfering in The Undertaker's Buried Alive match (after which Taker would take a leave of absence, only for him to return at WM XX with his supernatural gimmick and defeat Kane).
    • The 2004 event featured Kurt Angle boldly declaring (to Edge) that he could make Shawn Michaels tap out. He would make good on that promise the following WrestleMania.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: When the teams aren't five man/bad bands.
  • The Giant: Team Lesnar note  were hyped up as the physically largest team in Survivor Series history. Opinions on the team members may vary, but arguably most of them qualify for this trope. Despite which, they fell to a relatively smaller team consisting of Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit, Bradshaw, Hardcore Holly and John Cena.
  • Gimmick Matches: In addition to the usual traditional Survivor Series matches, there's also these examples:
  • Grand Finale:
    • 1990 saw the "Grand Finale of Survival", where all the surviving faces teamed up against all of the surviving heels from the previous matches. Hulk Hogan, the Ultimate Warrior and Tito Santana d. Ted DiBiase and the Visionaries (Rick Martel, the Warlord and Power and Glory [Hercules and Paul Roma]), with Hogan and Warrior surviving.
    • 2001's main event served as one for the Invasion.
    • 2014's match between Team John Cena and Team Authority was one for The Authority storyline. Or so it was believed.
    • The 2020 event featured the retirement ceremony of The Undertaker.
  • History Repeats:
  • Justified Title: The 1998 and 2002 events didn't have the traditional 5-on-5 tag team matches, but the Tournament Arc for the vacant WWF title (1998) and the debut of the Elimination Chamber match for the World Heavyweight title (2002) emphasized the theme of "Survival".
  • Mêlée à Trois: The 2019 event was a threeway fight between RAW, SmackDown and NXT. This was incorporated into the matches of the night, with representatives from all three brands being involved in Triple Threat matches.note 
  • Morality Kitchen Sink: The InVasion story line and the editions of this PPV revolving around Brand Supremacy feature teams that consist of both Heels and Faces duking it out and acting accordingly depending on circumstances and narrative.
  • Near-Villain Victory: Team Cena vs. Team Authority in 2014. Dolph Ziggler was making his last stand the betrayal of the Big Show had reduced his team to just him. Everytime he tried to get an edge over Seth Rollins, Triple H would take out a referee. When Zigger kicked out of a pin by a crooked ref, Trips Pedigreed him and laid Rollins arm for the victory. When all seemed lost... the Stinger appeared.
  • Non-Indicative Name: At Survivor Series 1994, Razor Ramon captained the Bad Guys note , who were actually the Faces. The name is a reference to Ramon's nickname and was an Artifact Title by then.
  • Older Hero vs. Younger Villain:
  • One-Hit Kill: Tito Santana's Flying Forearm at Survivor Series 1990. In the match between the Alliance note  and the Mercenaries note , Tito took out Boris with it a mere 48 seconds into the match. In the Grand Finale match described above, he took out the Warlord with it 28 seconds into the match.
  • Party Scheduling Gambit: The first aired on Thanksgiving Night 1987, the same night as the NWA's first PPV, Starrcade. Vince forced the PPV companies of the time to choose between either Survivor Series or Starrcade. Most chose Survivor Series, likely because of the WWF's star power.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Survivor Series 1999 featured wrestling porn star Val Venis leading his team of "Sexual Chocolate" Mark Henry, wrestling vampire Gangrel and martial arts expert "The Lethal Weapon" Steve Blackman to victory over The British Bulldog and the Mean Street Posse.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Hardcore Holly to Brock Lesnar at the 2003 PPV. This actually led to him being disqualified (and therefore eliminated) before the match had even really started.
  • Santa Claus: Showed up to celebrate Bret's win over Shawn in the main event of Survivor Series 1992, and Lex Luger being the sole survivor in the All-Americansnote -Foreign Fanaticsnote  match at Survivor Series 1993.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: The Tournament Arc for the 2015 event was ruined when Sheamus cashed in his Money in the Bank. Triple H also assisted him, continuing The Authority’s unending reign of terror.
  • Sole Survivor:
  • Something Completely Different:
    • 1991 and 1992 showed that WWE was experimenting with the format. Along with featuring the first ever 3-on-3 match, with Team Bossman note  vs. Team IRS note , it also featured the first ever singles match in Survivor Series history, with The Undertaker defeating WWE World Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan for the title.
    • The 3-on-3 match in the 1991 Survivor Series was originally a standard 4-on-4 match, but Sid Justice (who was on the face team) was injured and Jake Roberts (who was on the heel team) was suspended.
    • 1992 was almost entirely regular singles and tag matches, with only one proper elimination match. In a tag team elimination (meaning two tag teams on each side and if one guy from a tag team gets pinned/submitted/etc. then that team has to leave), The Nasty Boys and the Natural Disasters d. Money Inc. ("The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase and IRS) and the Beverly Brothers (Beau and Blake), with the Nasties being the survivors for their side.
    • 2000 had Chyna team with Billy Gunn, Road Dogg and K-Kwik in the first (and to this date only) intergender Survivor Series match.
    • The 1998 and 2002 events are the only Survivor Series PPVs to not feature a traditional elimination match. Both did, however, feature instead the "Deadly Games" tournament for the vacant WWF Championship and the first ever Elimination Chamber respectively, continuing the "survival" theme.
  • Spanish Announcers' Table: The Ur-Example of the table getting destroyed took place at the 1995 edition, when Diesel threw Bret Hart through it.
  • Squash Match:
    • The first shutout was in 1990, when the Visionaries note  d. the Vipers note , with all four of the Visionaries surviving.
    • The most unlikely example happened in 1994. The opening match was the Bad Guys (see Non-Indicative Name above) vs. the Teamsters note . Diesel had eliminated the 1-2-3 Kid and the Headshrinkers, and Davey Boy had been counted out, leaving Razor in the unenviable position of having to fight five guys all by himself. Then Shawn and Diesel started fighting and the entire heel team followed them, thus marking the one and only time in Survivor Series history where an entire team had been counted out.
    • The fastest example was in 1999, when The Big Show, after beating up his intended partners The Blue Meanie and Kaientai (Taka Michinoku and Shoichi Funaki) backstage, singlehandedly defeated the Big Bossman's entire team (Prince Albert, Mideon, and Viscera), with Bossman taking the hint and getting himself counted out, in a mere 1:27.
    • Perhaps the most notable of Survivor Series sweeps would be in 2006, when Team D-Generation X note  defeated Team Rated RKO note . Given the level of talent and cult popularity on the DX team, it's no wonder that this was the first five-man Survivor Series team to sweep their opposition. The Philadelphia crowd also made their voices heard, and surprised the wrestling world in the pre-match promo by chanting for Punk during DX's catchphrases.
    • Goldberg annihilating Brock Lesnar in less than two minutes at the 2016 event.
  • Sudden Downer Ending: 2003's Team Austin vs Team Bischoff match suddenly ended with Team Bischoff winningnote  — meaning that Stone Cold was officially out of WWE for good. And this retirement has stuck, save for his occasional one-off reappearances.
  • Team Killer: In worst case scenarios, in-fighting have resulted in the quarreling members to eliminate each other outright.
  • Team Spirit: At best.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork:
    • In many occasions when Enemy Mine just won't work. Can sometimes tear teams apart.
    • In the 1995 edition, they had a "Wild Card" Survivor Series contest where faces and heels made up teams at random. It worked about as well as expected.
    • A few events in the 2000s would have Raw vs Smackdown themed matches with faces and heels teaming together. This concept was revived in 2016 with the brand split being reinstated.
  • Thanksgiving Episode: From 1987-1990, the show always aired on Thanksgiving, and from 1991-1994, it aired on the night before Thanksgiving. With the rise of the Monday Night Wars, the show, like most PPVs, was moved to Sundays.
  • Token Evil Teammate/Token Good Teammate: On a few occasions.
  • Token White: Christian, on Team Kingston note  in their successful match against the all-white Team Orton note  at Survivor Series 2009. Played for Laughs when Christian pointed out his minority status... by saying he was the sole Canadian. Everyone else took it in stride.
  • Tournament Arc:
  • We ARE Struggling Together: There are cases when in-fighting between team members causes their downfall.
  • Wham Episode:
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