The 10 Best ‘Survivor Series’ Teams of All Time – Rolling Stone
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The 10 Best ‘Survivor Series’ Teams of All Time

When former legends and future superstars join forces at the WWE’s annual PPV, anything can happen – and usually does

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Team Cena stands triumphant at the conclusion of Monday's 'WWE Raw.'

WWE

The enduring appeal of Survivor Series, which airs its 28th (!) edition this Sunday on Pay-Per-View and the WWE Network, is no huge mystery. Even though multiparty matches have become de rigueur on weekly Raw and SmackDown broadcasts, there's still something thrilling about watching several grapplers mix it up when the stakes are high.

Over the duration of any "traditional" Survivor Series 10-man elimination tag match, established rivals tussle while emerging adversaries stare down and atypical pairings square off. It's pure chaos, until it isn't and one man (or woman) rises phoenix-like above the ashes of their pinned opponents and peers.

This year, it's Team Cena – featuring John-boy himself, along with Big Show, Dolph Ziggler, Ryback and, for some reason, Erick Rowan – pitted against Team Authority, i.e. Seth Rollins, Kane, Mark Henry, Luke Harper and Rusev. The Authority's very omniscience is on the line, leading one to think the odds are in Cena and Co.'s favor, if for no other reason than Triple H and Steph's run as on-screen power brokers seems to have run its course.

Regardless of the outcome, one can't help but conjure memories of Survivor Series past, and in particular, teams from the last three decades whose ranks still inspire awe today. So without delay, and with the benefit of perfect hindsight (i.e. witnessing how Isaac Yankem has evolved into Kane, Hunter Hearst Helmsley into the Game, etc.), here are our picks for the 10 best Survivor Series teams of all time.

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10. Razor Ramon, 1-2-3 Kid, British Bulldog, the Headshrinkers

From Survivor Series VIII, November 23, 1994
You may be asking yourself, "The Headshrinkers?" But expand your minds and recall that, circa Survivor Series VIII, Fatu (aka the man later known Rikishi) was briefly joined by Sione (née the Barbarian) after O.G. Headshrinker Samu took time off from WWE. Consider, too, that Razor and 1-2-3 Kid were less than two years away from their dominant run in WCW under the N.W.O. banner. And lastly, the late Davey Boy Smith was in the midst of a major push upon his WWE return. At the time, their stable had serious muscle, and in retrospect, it was a flush with both experience and future upper-card promise. Their opponents – Shawn Michaels, Diesel, Owen Hart, Jim Neidhart and Jeff Jarrett – took it on the chin that night, with Razor standing tall in a victory that was truly too sweet.

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9. Randy Savage, Jake Roberts, Ricky Steamboat, Brutus Beefcake, Jim Duggan

From Survivor Series I, November 26, 1987
Beefcake (if that really is his surname) and Duggan must have felt pretty shabby, given they were the only ones among their formidable squad clipped by the end of their pronounced win over Harley Race, Hercules, Honky Tonk Man, Danny Davis and Ron Bass. Then again, Macho Man and his motley squad would have felt pretty shamed if a team boasting longtime referee Davis managed to outlast them. Not shockingly, the would-be Hall of Fame trifecta (Savage in 2015!) of Macho, Roberts and Ricky – an incomparable collective of technical skill and natural charisma – persevered.

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8. Michelle McCool, Victoria, Maria, Maryse, Natalya

From Survivor Series XXII, November 23, 2008
Between them, this quintet of female wrestlers claimed a total of eight Women's/Divas Championships over a six-year span. And for one fateful night, and despite inter-team conflict, they joined forces representing SmackDown against Raw's fearsome fivesome of Beth Phoenix, Mickie James, Kelly Kelly, Candice Michelle and Jillian. Then-champ Phoenix would get the rub and rise triumphant, but Victoria and Natalya's pedigrees alone lend Team SD's runner-ups a transcendent prestige.

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7. Hulk Hogan, Demolition, Jake Roberts

From Survivor Series III, November 23, 1989
No surprise that Team Hulkamaniacs captain Hogan was the sole survivor, but the additions of Demolition's Ax and Smash and Survivor Series mainstay Roberts provided some badass attitude to buttress the Hulkster's clout. Of course, all the action was secondary to extending Hogan and Zeus' fictional No Holds Barred feud to the small-screen world of scripted sports entertainment. But the threesome thrown alongside Hogan as ostensible window-dressing still rank among fans' perennial sinister favorites.

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6. Lex Luger, the Undertaker, Rick and Scott Steiner

From Survivor Series VII, November 24, 1993
If Luger, 'Taker, Rick and Scott somehow bungled their bout against Yokozuna, Jacques Rougeau, Crush and infamously fleeting main-event heel Ludvig Borga, it would jump out today as one of Survivor Series' most emphatic anomalies. Fortunately for Lex and the gang's reputations (and thanks to a perhaps prescient booking decision), Luger reigned supreme, toppling the Finnish faux-aristocrat and furthering his own dubious "All-American" gimmick. Still, all five participants on the winning side embody the link between wrestling's territorial roots and contemporary spectacle, and it's somewhat miraculous that they were all ever in the same federation at once, let alone on one team.

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5. Jerry Lawler, Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Dr. Isaac Yankem, Mabel

From Survivor Series IX, November 19, 1995
In the King's waning days as a regular in-ring competitor, he leaned on the services of his personal dentist, Dr. Isaac Yankem. After all, finally conquering foe Bret Hart can be like pulling teeth. Also on his side was a snobbish up-and-comer called Hunter Hearst Helmsely, in addition to another man deemed a monarch, King of the Ring victor Mabel.

At the time, Mabel and Lawler were preeminent heels, and in the ensuing years, we know that Yankem would be extracted from his gimmick and get repackaged as the ageless Kane. Helmsely, meanwhile, was on his way to IC title reigns and eventual reinvention as D-Generation X co-founder and, soon enough, WWE's top talent and backstage brains. So while Lawler's group lost handily that evening to Yankem's future storyline brother the Undertaker and his allies, it also improbably showcased nearly half of today's current Authority regime.

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4. The Ultimate Warrior, Legion of Doom, the Texas Tornado

From Survivor Series IV, November 22, 1990
Think about this: The Warrior, Kerry Von Erich (unfortunate gimmick notwithstanding) and LOD teaming up, all at the ostensible peaks of their popularity or potential. Even if it were fait accompli that Warrior would be the last grappler standing, all three of his partners loom large in both WWE and regional-wrestling lore. If anything, it's bittersweet to think that only LOD principal Animal remains alive today, but that's all the more reason to relive Team Warrior's epic clash with Mr. Perfect and Demolition (featuring Crush no less!) That, and to marvel at how much fetish attire was being sported between both sides.

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3. Triple H, Shawn Michaels, CM Punk, the Hardy Boyz

From Survivor Series XX, November 26, 2006
The mid-aughts were interesting times in WWE. New talents like CM Punk, then in the midst of a nice undefeated run to kick off his tenure with the company, were finding their place among stalwart vets like the Hardy Boyz and DX. Apropos, then, that all five of these fellows found harmony and decimated Edge, Randy Orton, Johnny Nitro, Gregory Helms (aka the on-and-off Hurricane) and Mike Knox. In fact, no one on Team DX was eliminated, which was kind of symbolic for how most of Edge and Orton's recruits failed to reach anywhere near Punk's accomplishments in years ahead. And had this confrontation bent the rules of space and time and subbed in Shawn, HHH, Jeff and Matt in their prime, it would have been hard to argue against them as Survivor Series' undisputed all-stars.

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2. The Dudley Boyz and the Hardy Boyz

From Survivor Series XIV, November 19, 2000
Speaking of the, uh, Hardyz at their best, let's travel back to November 2000, when Matt and Jeff joined forces with loose-cannon brothers Bubba Ray and D-Von. It's a foursome worth running to one's Roku for and queuing up on the WWE Network, especially since the perpetual adversaries were each other's opposition again by the next year's Survivor Series. But on this night, they functioned in high-flying harmony, with Jeff the lone man to remain when the blood and sweat settled against Edge, Christian, the Godfather and Bull Buchanan (the latter two then part of Right to Censor). It's like Batman and the Joker joining forces, but with swanton bombs.

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1. The Rock, Chris Jericho, the Undertaker, Kane, Big Show

From Survivor Series XV, November 18, 2001
You know WWE's roster was robust when they could afford to stockpile this assembly of heavy hitters (all at or just narrowly past their prime, no less) in one bout. And that's without factoring in that they squared off against Stone Cold, Kurt Angle, Booker T, Rob Van Dam and Shane McMahon. The Rock outlasted the pack, but of the nine everyday wrestlers involved, all of them carried on as bona fide superstars, with two already enshrined in the company's Hall of Fame (and at least five others surefire future inductees).

At their best, Survivor Series teams are a reflection of WWE's depth of talent and creative flexibility, so it's no surprise that the event's most sterling quintet came together when Vince's enterprise was at the top of its game as both a business and entertainment bonanza.

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