Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive show news, updates, and more!
With WarGames scheduled to take place at next weekend’s Survivor Series for the first time on the main roster, the WWE Universe has another iconic moment to look forward to. Since its inception all the way back in 1987, Survivor Series has never failed to make an impact — and it’s one of the absolute “can’t-miss” events on the WWE calendar.
While huge, multi-person elimination matches have historically been the hallmark of the event, larger-than-life moments and unforgettable debuts frequently overshadow the classic matches themselves.
Survivor Series: WarGames is barely over a week away and promises to be a night to remember, so let’s turn back the clock and look at some of the greatest moments in Survivor Series history!
The Undertaker’s Jaw-Dropping Debut – 1990
It was a moment that changed the course of WWE forever. The legendary career of the Undertaker that spanned over three decades all started in Hartford Connecticut at the 1990 edition of Survivor Series.
As the final, surprise member of Ted DiBiase’s Million Dollar team, the Undertaker wasted no time by kicking off his career the same way he ended every match: With a vicious Tombstone Piledriver. The Undertaker managed to put away Koko B. Ware and Dusty Rhodes before being counted out of the match. It was quite a debut for the Deadman — just a sign of things to come in the future.
The First-Ever Elimination Chamber Match – 2002
There have been over two dozen Elimination Chambers matches in WWE history, and Survivor Series 2002 was home to the first. The premise for creating the match was simple: The bad blood between all six participants was so intense that a normal cage — or even Hell in a Cell — wasn’t sadistic enough.
Hence, the Elimination Chamber was born.
The participants in the match read like a who’s who of WWE legends: Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Kane, Chris Jericho, Rob Van Dam, and Booker T all fought in the confines of the chamber to become the World Heavyweight Champion. In the end, Shawn Michaels pinned Triple H to take home the title and kickstart the second era of his WWE career in the process.
Goldberg Returns, Destroys Brock Lesnar – 2016
Let’s set the scene for you: Brock Lesnar is the dominant unstoppable force. Goldberg hasn’t wrestled a match since 2004. Common sense says that Lesnar would’ve put the legend away with ease at Survivor Series 2016, right?
Wrong. In one of the most thrilling moments ever, Goldberg picked up right where he left off 12 years earlier by dismantling Brock Lesnar with some well-timed spears and his signature Jackhammer — all in under 90 seconds. We don’t know who was more shocked – the WWE Universe, Paul Heyman at ringside, or Brock Lesnar himself. At any rate, this monumental win skyrocketed Goldberg atop the contenders list, ultimately leading to him capturing the WWE Universal Championship using a similarly aggressive strategy against Kevin Owens (with some help from Chris Jericho) a few months later.
Stone Cold Drops Triple H From A Crane – 2000
OK, there've been some absolutely wild “call your friends right now” moments in WWE history, and this particular moment from Survivor Series 2000 may win the award for most unbelievable moment ever.
To put it bluntly, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin managed to trap Triple H in his vehicle, commandeer a construction crane, lift the car high up in the air ... and then let it fall harrowingly to the ground in an act that is absolutely not attempted homicide, nope, not at all. This was testament to the post-Attitude Era, in which Superstars kept upping the ante night after night — and, well, we guess ol’ Stone Cold just wasn’t in a very good mood that day.
Of course, Triple H would show up the next night on RAW with a few scrapes and bruises, proving that it’ll take a lot more than Austin’s insane stunt to keep him away from the WWE title picture.
(And for the record, Triple H started this whole thing by running over Stone Cold with his car in the first place at Survior Series 1999, so yeah, an eye for an eye and all that.)
Rocky Maivia Debuts In WWE – 1996
The Rock is arguably the most famous, most successful, and greatest Superstar of all time. To this day, whenever the Rock appears on WWE television, audiences around the world are captivated by his unmatched charisma and larger-than-life stature.
But let's be honest: At Survivor Series 1996, he debuted showing exactly zero of those qualities.
Debuting in WWE as Rocky Maivia, he was a white-bread, vanilla, all-smiles up-and-comer that had very little in common with the Hall of Famer he would eventually become. Don’t get us wrong, he was no slouch in the ring by any means, but everybody has to start somewhere, and the rather inauspicious debut of the Rock in 1996 is one of the most fascinating moments in WWE history. When looking back, the WWE Universe realizes how much the Rock has evolved over his career, and it ultimately serves as an example that you never know who will become the biggest star the business has ever seen.
The Montreal Screwjob – 1997
Come on, we can’t talk about the greatest Survivor Series moments of all time without mentioning the Montreal Screwjob, can we?
It is arguably the definitive moment in WWE history. After the 1997 Survivor Series, everything changed — absolutely everything. It kickstarted another WWE Championship reign for Shawn Michaels and pushed D-Generation X even higher. Because of this moment, Bret Hart left WWE for supposedly greener pastures in WCW, setting up a series of events that ultimately caused him to retire from professional wrestling prematurely. There were Superstars that wanted to quit WWE entirely because of this moment; Mick Foley, for example, has gone on the record saying he was seriously considering leaving. Even the evil character of “Mr. McMahon” was born out of Montreal.
For many wrestling fans, the Montreal Screwjob is synonymous with Survivor Series, and it always will be. Some moments are just so earth-shattering and iconic that it cannot be topped.
The Shield Debuts And Destroys, Well, Everything – 2012
While the debuts of the Undertaker and the Rock were pretty run-of-the-mill as far as WWE debuts go, nothing was more chaotic than when the Shield literally burst onto the scene at Survivor Series 2012.
The headlining matchup was a Triple Threat match between champion CM Punk, John Cena, and Ryback for the WWE Title. Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, and Dean Ambrose made their presence known by absolutely demolishing Ryback near the end of the match via a triple powerbomb through the announcer’s table, a move that would be an indispensable part of their repertoire for years to come. Immediately, the WWE Universe felt the aura of the Shield; the three men were young, hungry, and immensely talented — and they seemed to have a major chip on their shoulders. (Or, at least, they just really hated Ryback.)
What better way to announce that you’ve arrived than by disrupting a WWE Championship main event, right? Thanks to the actions of the Shield on this fateful night in 2012, CM Punk retained his title via their interference, and the rest, well, is history. All three comprising the Shield went on to great success in WWE both as a team as well as individuals.
Suffice to say, we wouldn’t be surprised if Survivor Series 2022 added another few entries to this list when everything is all said and done!
Catch Survivor Series: WarGames when it streams on Peacock on Saturday, Nov. 26.
USA Insider is your source for all things USA, from behind-the-scenes access to breaking news, information about USA’s original shows, and much more. Sign up for USA Insider and be the first to get extras and updates on your favorite shows.