WWE PPV Flashback: Survivor Series (11/17/02) - "Chamber of Triumph"

Survivor Series
November 17, 2002
Madison Square Garden, New York, NY

As thanksgiving approached once again, the WWE prepared for its final "big four" event of 2002, as it returned to its home base of Madison Square Garden for the sixteenth annual Survivor Series. The event, famous for hosting elimination tag matches over the years would take the elimination theme and apply it towards a few different match types this year, particularly on the Raw brand where it would play host to the introduction of a new match type. That match, was the Elimination Chamber, a structure putting six top superstars from Monday nights into a battle where only the survivor would leave as the World Heavyweight Champion. Not only notable for being the first of what has become an annual occurrence today, the match would also see the return to action of Shawn Michaels for the first time since his celebration was cut short by Triple H at SummerSlam. Meanwhile on the Smackdown brand, the newly acquired Big Show posed a threat to Brock Lesnar's WWE Championship, with even Paul Heyman doubting his client's ability to defeat the monster in a feud that had effectively started the face turn of Lesnar. Outside the matches themselves, a return was highly rumoured for this night, as former WCW main eventer Scott Steiner, whom we last saw in the WWE back in 1994 was about to arrive on the scene once again. With that all said, lets dive in. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter at @Mpmcc91 and send all your thoughts.

Strangely we don't get a video package to start the show and instead kick the night off right away inside the Garden with our opening pyro. Our announce teams are the regular duos of Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler from Raw, and Michael Cole & Tazz from Smackdown.

Tables Elimination Tag Match:
Jeff Hardy, Bubba Ray Dudley & Spike Dudley vs Rosey, Jamal & Rico

Our first match of the night comes from the Raw brand as we have the remaining members (for now) of the Dudley clan teaming with Jeff Hardy to take on Eric Bischoff's muscle of 3 Minute Warning. Tables elimination rules apply here meaning the team that manages to put all their opponents through tables is the winner. As far as the build to this match goes, it was fairly basic and essentially just stemmed from 3 Minute Warning beating down various members of the roster, including their three opponents in this match. On the Raw before this show, 3 Minute Warning delivered a final statement by taking out their opponents and driving Spike and Jeff through tables. Overall, 3 Minute Warning have looked decent since arriving on the scene a few months ago. The Bubba and Spike team has been a decent team and a good idea after Bubba's failed singles push, although they're nowhere near the team that Bubba and D-Von were. As for Jeff, he's fallen down the card significantly since the last time we saw him on PPV in the summer where he looked to be in line for a big push after that epic ladder match against Undertaker back in July. He gets the biggest pop, but its around this time that his personal life was starting to get out of hand behind the scenes I believe, and as a result his ring work was getting sloppy. Nonetheless, this is a fun match to get the crowd into the show. The heels get the early advantage and overpower their opponents leading to the first elimination around four minutes in as Rosey & Jamal double flapjack Spike through a table. From there its up to Bubba & Jeff to fight off their opponents and they do a good job as a team. The action breaks down and leads to everyone brawling on the outside. In an homage to the last time we were in this building for the 2000 Royal Rumble, Jeff makes his way up to the balcony and delivers a Swanton down below driving Rosey through a table to even the score up and get the crowd going crazy as well. Jeff's moment does not last long however, as his elimination comes a couple of minutes later courtesy of a Jamal splash off the top rope to a table set up on the floor. From here, the heels team up on Bubba who is all alone, but he gets a burst of momentum and manages to send Jamal through a table with a powerbomb. Theoretically that just leaves Rico for his team, but both Rosey and Jamal stick around after recovering from their bumps. They triple team Bubba who looks to be on the road to a defeat, but all of a sudden, D-Von, complete with Dudley Boyz attire comes out to make the save to a big pop. The Dudley Boyz have reunited and they manage to 3D Rico through a table to give Bubba the win for his team at 14:22. A fun match that the crowd were into as expected for this kind of match, and the reunion of the Dudleyz was a cool moment. Neither were going anywhere on their own, so it made sense for D-Von to come back to Raw and add some star power to the tag division on Monday nights. Spike falls to the wayside as a result, but it was the right move all up.
Grade: **3/4

We now cross to the World Restaurant in New York, where Stacy Keibler is standing by. She puts over he PR relationship with the newly turned face Test, mentioning testicles before introducing Saliva to perform the PPV theme which is interspersed with footage hyping what is still to come tonight. Having the performance not take place in the actual arena was strange.

WWE Cruiserweight Championship:
Jamie Noble (c) w/Nidia vs Billy Kidman

Now we head to Smackdown for the first title match of the night. This is a rematch from Vengeance where Billy Kidman was unsuccessful in challenging Noble for the gold. He gets another shot here as this feud was reignited a few weeks ago on Smackdown, with Kidman teaming with Torrie Wilson to pick up a mixed tag victory over Noble & Nidia. The following week, Kidman's momentum would continue to grow as he defeated Noble in a non-title match, putting the champion on the defensive heading into the PPV. Noble's had a solid reign as champion taking on a variety of challengers, really putting the long forgotten division back on the map over the past six months or so. Meanwhile Kidman has got a decent following thanks in part to his awesome shooting star press. The match here is fairly back and forth to start, with both men getting a chance to show their stuff. As has been a constant throughout Noble's reign, Nidia proves to be an asset at ringside as well as she takes it upon herself to regular interfere in the match to her boyfriend's advantage. Despite the interference, Kidman fights to stay in it and gets a nearfall after busting out a BK Bomb. Noble manages to kick out however, and he connects with a Tiger Bomb, however this time its the challenger who kicks out. Noble's attack continues as he delivers a stiff looking DDT. Kidman still manages to stay alive though, and he manages to take Noble down and following up with a Shooting Star Press for the victory at 7:29. A really fun match between two good performers. Billy Kidman is the new Cruiserweight Champion, freshening things up as Noble's five month reign is over.
Grade: ***

Up next, we go backstage to the former WWE Tag Team Champions, Kurt Angle & Chris Benoit. They argue over who the captain of their team is before Benoit offers a handshake to focus on regaining their titles. Angle refuses the handshake, before saying tag team partners hug. He hugs him and Benoit's reaction is priceless.

Elsewhere we see Chris Jericho preparing for the Elimination Chamber match later tonight. He's still one half of the World Tag Team Champions with Christian by the way. We then go to Victoria before her upcoming title shot as she gets into an argument with a mirror before breaking it. This takes us to a video package for the upcoming match.

WWE Women's Championship - Hardcore Match:
Trish Stratus (c) vs Victoria

Despite coming up short in her title shot at No Mercy, the deranged Victoria continued to chase Trish Stratus and her Women's Championship in the weeks that followed heading into this show. The following night on Raw, Victoria picked up a mixed intergender six person tag as she teamed with Chris Jericho and Christian against Trish, Booker T & Goldust. The next week, Victoria's presence was felt by the champion again as she attacked Trish after the champion had won a match against Ivory. Trish would return the favour a week later however, as she saved Terri from an attack by the psychotic challenger. With Victoria determined to destroy Trish and disfigure her attractive looks, the title match was made a hardcore match for the PPV, only the second in PPV history. Of course, the first took place at SummerSlam 2000 when Luna fought Ivory. Anyway, with that stipulation in play, this was a very different match to what we saw last month as the two ladies do not hold back in going for weapons like garbage cans, brooms and fire extinguishers and using them against once another to put on a physical contest. As I said last month, the days of Trish growing into a capable performer are in the past by this point. She's very much there now and would become arguably the greatest female performer of all time over the remainder of her career. Victoria is also awesome, so this is a very enjoyable match. Victoria dominates in the early going, choking Trish with a broom early on. Trish fights back and that leads to some back and forth shots which are quite stiff, with Victoria even getting busted from the nose. The match comes to a fairly abrupt end when Victoria scores the victory after suplexing Trish onto a fire extinguisher at 7:01, but I really enjoyed this match. As with the previous contest, we now have a new champion to build the division around, while Trish moves into the chase roll. These two ladies will meet again down the line.
Grade: ***

We briefly see Booker T getting ready for his match before cutting to Eric Bischoff's office. Big Show walks in and tells his former boss that he made a mistake by trading him to Smackdown as he's about to win the WWE title. Elsewhere Brock Lesnar is getting ready to do battle despite having broken ribs, while Paul Heyman is nervous.

WWE Championship:
Brock Lesnar (c) w/Paul Heyman vs Big Show

Our first of the two major championships comes quite early in the night as an injured Brock Lesnar looks to preserve his undefeated streak and championship reign despite his manager having reservations. Brock was effectively in the tweener role coming off his feud with Undertaker, and this match would cement the new direction for his character. Obviously this goes back to the Big Show signing with Smackdown after No Mercy. Upon arriving, Show would immediately issue a challenge for the title. Later that night, Brock and Undertaker would show mutual respect to one another coming off their battles over the past few months. Show would interrupt however, and after getting into a verbal altercation with Taker, he tossed the American Bad Ass off the stage, writing him off television for a few months. With Taker out of the picture, Show set his focus directly on Brock whilst Paul Heyman attempted to persuade his client not to accept Show's challenge. Show would interfere in a match between Lesnar and Rey Mysterio in which he chokeslammed the champion through the announce table. The following week, Show would attack yet again, this time tossing Brock off the stage after a match against Eddie Guerrero. As a result of the attacks, Lesnar entered this match with injured ribs, which was actually reflecting a legit injury that Brock was dealing with at the time. Despite being dominated by Show for weeks, on the Smackdown before this show, the reigning champion would fight back, delivering a series of chair shots to the giant, before nailing him with the title belt. Now its clear Show has definitely benefited from the change in scene coming to Smackdown. He was really lost in the shuffle on Raw, but now he's immediately in a main event program and looking more dominant than perhaps when he first arrived in the company years prior. Meanwhile Brock was getting a lot of pops coming out of the Taker feud and that trend continues here. Heyman remains in his client's corner despite the tension between the two, and that would have major implications a few minutes later. As the match gets going, Show dominates the action, zoning in on the ribs of the champion. Despite the disadvantage, Lesnar manages to fight back and bust out few suplexes on Show. He attempts an F-5 but as Show fights out, the ref gets bumped. This leads to Heyman bringing in a chair, which Brock uses to hit the challenger. He follows up with an F-5 which connects, which brings out another ref for a near fall. With Brock looking to have dispatched Show, Heyman pulls the ref out of the ring. Lesnar is stunned and that allows Show to recover, and after hitting the champion with a chair, he delivers a chokeslam for the major upset at a very quick 4:19. Big Show has ended the undefeated record of Brock Lesnar and become the new WWE Champion, and he celebrates the win with Heyman afterwards setting up a new allegiance and completing Brock's face turn. This was a major shock at the time as just a month prior, Show was not even a title contender, yet here he was being the first man to beat the most dominantly booked rookie in perhaps ever. The short time makes sense given Brock's injuries and he'd take the next month off to rest up for the big chase in the new year. Meanwhile Show was simply filling the role here, as he'd have a relatively quick reign as we'll see next time. The seeds for Mania were soon to be planted on Smackdown however. Obviously this wasn't a great match, but it was booked well to achieve the intended goal.
Grade: *1/2

Our last Smackdown match of the night is up next, and we get a video package highlighting the WWE Tag Team Championship match build.

WWE Tag Team Championship - Elimination Match:
Edge & Rey Mysterio (c) vs Kurt Angle & Chris Benoit vs Los Guerreros

We've seen different pairings of these teams at our last two shows, but tonight, for the blue brand's final contest we have all members of the affectionately named "Smackdown Six" in an elimination match for the highly prestigious WWE Tag Team Championship. Unlike the division on Raw, the Smackdown titles were really treated as a big deal, and a big match like this after the match of the year contender at No Mercy reinforces that. Of course, when we last saw the titles they were around the waists of Kurt Angle & Chris Benoit. We have new champions here though, as on Smackdown a few weeks before this PPV, the duo of Edge & Rey Mysterio defeated the unlikely partners to become the second ever holders of the belts in a great two out of three falls match. The next week tensions seemed to boil over between Angle and Benoit as they faced off in singles action, but the match would break down as the new champions, along with Los Guerreros who had spent the last month hanging around the title scene as well, got involved to set up this match. Anyway, its two guys in the ring at any time here, with tags able to be made to anyone. Last team remaining wins the titles, and we start things off with Benoit and Mysterio going at it. Speaking of Rey, he gets a big pop from the crowd at his first Survivor Series, and the champions take the early advantage. It does not last long however, as frequent tags leads to Rey being worked over by his opponents. Angle and Benoit continue to show great teamwork despite theirvdifferences throughout the match, and we get a cool spot where they both lock in their respective submission holds on Edge, only for him to stay in it. As the match goes on we get the expected break down into chaos as all six men trade spots and finishers. Among all this, Chavo nails Benoit with a title belt, but Benoit thinks Kurt was the one that decked him, continuing the animosity between the partners. As they get into an altercation, Edge hits Benoit with a Spear to eliminate the former champions from the match at around the thirteen minute mark. That actually draws some loud boos from the crowd, but Benoit and Angle respond by taking out all four other men in the match before leaving ringside. Their partnership effectively ended here, but they'd be in each other's paths for a while longer. Returning to the match at hand, we're down to the Guerreros and the champs, and its the Guerreros who take the advantage from here, working over Edge and resorting to their infamous "cheat to win" tactics, the vignettes of which I believe had begun airing around this time. Some miscommunication gives the champs a burst of wind, and Rey connects with a 619 on Eddie, only for Chavo to nail Rey with the title belt as he did to Benoit earlier. This allows Eddie to lock in the Lasso from El Passo on the downed Mysterio, and that gives Los Guerreros the submission victory and the titles at 19:25. Some really great action between six guys who had been setting Smackdown on fire for weeks. Its not at the level of the match at No Mercy as the three team concept got in the way at times, but overall this was fun, and the Guerreros would become key players in the division over the next year while the other teams would end up going their separate ways. A lot of people don't think back on this match fondly, but I think thats due to the insanely high standards we had from weeks of classics that this was unable to live up to. Its nothing to be turned up the nose at though, this was some really good wrestling which again demonstrated the strengths of the Thursday night brand.
Grade: ***3/4

At this point, Christopher Nowinski, a newcomer to the Raw brand who played an intellectual superior character based on his legitimate Harvard graduate status, makes his way out to the ring. Nowinski ridicules the fans in attendance, but all of a sudden he is interrupted by fellow heel, Matt Hardy. He gets a big pop as he says he disagrees with what Nowinski is saying before insulting the crowd in his own way instead. By the way, the Matt Fact was "Matt keeps the room temperature at a toasty 75 degrees" and "Matt only drinks low fat chocolate milk". Such an awesome character. Anyway, they agree on a compromise and start insulting the fans together when all of a sudden they are interrupted by sirens, and out comes Big Poppa Pump himself, Scott Steiner, to an insane pop. Steiner ends the segment by taking out both Hardy and Nowinski before posing to the crowd. A good way to introduce him as a major player, and he'd be hyped as a free agent in the weeks that followed. He was definitely treated as a big deal and the fans regarded him as such. We'll track how that plays out over the next few months.

We then cross to Terri, who is standing by with Shawn Michaels. He talks about his chance to become World Heavyweight Champion in the chamber, but all of a sudden he is interrupted by an "RNN News Update" vignette. That vignette is from the injured Randy Orton, who started out as a face on Smackdown shortly after the draft, but since getting injured took on a cocky heel persona as he would constantly update fans on his recovery. He says that his shoulder was not reinjured on the flight to New York. We'll definitely see more of him in the future.

From there, we get a video package hyping the main event, and then cross backstage to Jonathan Coachman, who is joined by Triple H. He says he's defending the title against five of the best in the business, but he's taking them all to hell.

Back in the arena the chamber is lowered for the first time in history. Eric Bischoff makes his way out and as the storyline creator of the match talks about the deadly structure to provide soundbytes that would be used years on. He leaves and we are ready to go.

World Heavyweight Championship - Elimination Chamber Match:
Triple H (c) w/Ric Flair vs Shawn Michaels vs Rob Van Dam vs Booker T vs Kane vs Chris Jericho

Alright, for the first time the World Heavyweight title main events a PPV, and this is certainly the kind of match that calls for it. That was actually part of the storyline behind the inception of this match, as the night after No Mercy, Eric Bischoff announced that he wanted to outdo the awesome cell main event that Smackdown had put forth. In doing so he announced the first ever elimination chamber match, claiming the structure came to him in a dream. The following week, Bischoff announced the five challengers, although Shawn Michaels' name was definitely a surprise as he had last been seen in a ring at SummerSlam where he was taken out by his former best friend Triple H. Michaels' had appeared via satellite however and assured Triple H that he would be back to get him when he least expected it. That would come later in the night when Triple H would face Kane in a casket match. During the match, Michaels emerged from the casket at ringside and nailed Triple H with Sweet Chin Music, costing him the non-title match in the process. In the weeks that followed, all six men went at it as they looked to gain momentum to become the next World Champion. Anyway, if you're reading this, I presume you know the rules, but for the sake of completeness, two competitors start in the ring and every five minutes a randomly chosen superstar exits a plexiglass chamber into the match. The match continues until all opponents have been eliminated by pinfall or submission. Michaels gets the biggest reaction for his entrance as expected, and he's still in the position where we didn't know how many matches he had left in him. He definitely wasn't working a full time schedule or anything. Speaking of entrances, Jericho has Saliva play an alternate theme as he makes his way out. As I said earlier, he's a holder of the World Tag Team Championship still at this show. Anyway, we start the match with Triple H and Rob Van Dam going at it. Having Triple H in there to start was definitely a shock at the time. RVD starts out in control for the most part, and he busts the Game open in the early going. After hitting a Rolling Thunder he attempts to go on top of Jericho's Chamber, but Y2J interves and pulls his leg, allowing Triple H a chance to regain his composure. Moments later, the first interval expires and Jericho officially enters the match. As the only two heels in this thing, he and Hunter reluctantly team up on Van Dam. This goes on until Booker T enters the mix next. He continues to mainly have issues with Jericho here due to the chase in the Raw tag division, but he was being groomed for another big push down the line. He gets a burst of momentum and takes down the heels, while RVD climbs to the top of a chamber pod once more. That brings us perhaps the most famous moment from the match as he attempts a Five Star on Triple H from up there, only for him to be to close. As a result Van Dam pretty much crushes Triple H's throat which would cause him to miss the next night's Raw. Meanwhile, RVD is out of it as well, which Booker is quick to capitalise on. He hits a missle dropkick and pins Van Dam, scoring the first elimination of the match in the process. The three men left in the ring go at it from here until Kane enters the match next. As expected, he comes in a dominant powerhouse, sending Jericho through the glass of a pod. He follows up with a chokeslam to Booker, but a recovering Jericho comes in an lionsaults the downed former WCW champion, scoring the elimination for himself. Jericho and Kane trade blows from there and the final countdown starts, leading to Shawn Michaels entering to a big pop. After a burst of momentum he joins his adversaries in hitting their finishers on Kane, culminating in another Lionsault elimination by Jericho. Speaking of Jericho, he works with Triple H once more to try to get rid of the crowd favourite, but after taking some offense, Shawn comes back with a Superkick to eliminate Y2J as well leaving us with the two former DX mates squaring off. From there the great underdog tale continues with the crowd behind Michaels, and JR putting over the magnitude of the chance to become champion again after over four years. You havr to give major credit to Triple H hanging in there as well with his crushed throat. The match continues and it looks as though the Game is going to put an end to the storybook tale as he hits HBK with a Pedigree, but the Showstopper kicks out causing the Garden to go insane. Michaels comes back with some Sweet Chin Music out of nowhere and that gets the three at 39:22. In what is a statement nobody would have expected heading into 2002, Shawn Michaels is the new World Heavyweight Champion. He celebrates with confetti and a genuine great moment for the returning legend as he got his revenge for SummerSlam by taking the Game's title. This was a great match and one that I will always think of when the Chamber is mentioned. There have been better from an in ring standpoint as we will see over the years, but this moment makes what was already a very good match into a great one.
Grade: ****

Overall a good show with some solid action and memorable moments. After coming off as the inferior brand over the past few shows, Raw stepped up its game tonight and was on par with Smackdown here. The blue brand was still the more entertaining show at the time, but all the matches delivered here. Obviously the show was built around the chamber and Shawn Michaels' quest to hold the title once more, and it delivered with a great match and awesome feel good moment. Triple H's reign is over after only two months, but he's still very much the top heel on Raw and will continue to be for quite some time. Meanwhile on Smackdown, a reshuffling of the main event players starts here following Lesnar's shocking loss to Big Show courtesy of the man who brought him to the top in a record timeframe. Everything on this show delivered from the opener, even if the tag title match was a little underwhelming. Steiner's debut worked as well and would probably end up being the highlight of his run with the company, but we'll let that unfold with time. A really good show with the company feeling completely different to the way it did at the start of the year. Thats the wild ride that was 2002 for you.

Three Stars of the Night:
1. Shawn Michaels - on top of the world once again after another great showing. Little did we know just how much he still had left in the tank.
2. Triple H - was in there from the start of the Chamber and deserves credit for working as long as he did after the botched Five Star which made breathing a struggle for him.
3. Chris Jericho - had no chance of winning, but it was nice seeing him back in the main event mix after dropping off significantly since Mania.

FINAL GRADE: 8 out of 10

What I do here is add the three stars of the night with each review so as to keep track of who we can say overall is the greatest PPV performer to any given time. First place scores 3 points, second 2 and third 1.

Steve Austin = 111
Bret Hart = 83
Shawn Michaels = 73
The Rock = 67
Triple H = 64
Kurt Angle = 41
Mick Foley = 38
Undertaker = 31
Chris Jericho = 30
Randy Savage = 28
Hulk Hogan = 25
Chris Benoit = 25
Owen Hart = 21
Edge = 19
X-Pac = 18
Jeff Hardy = 16
Diesel = 15
Matt Hardy = 14
Ultimate Warrior = 13
Vader = 13
British Bulldog = 12
Christian = 12
Ted DiBiase = 10
Razor Ramon = 10
Vince McMahon = 10
Ric Flair = 8
Jim Neidhart = 7
Bubba Ray Dudley = 7
D-Von Dudley = 7
Rob Van Dam = 7
Jerry Lawler = 6
Dynamite Kid = 5
Arn Anderson = 5
Roddy Piper = 5
Mr Perfect = 5
Marty Jannetty = 5
Bob Backlund = 5
Shane McMahon = 5
Brock Lesnar = 5
Eddie Guerrero = 5
Ricky Steamboat = 4
Ax = 4
Smash = 4
Bobby Heenan = 4
D’Lo Brown = 4
Rikishi = 4
Kane = 4
Greg Valentine = 3
Tully Blanchard = 3
Tanaka = 3
Bam Bam Bigelow = 3
Sato = 3
Jake Roberts = 3
Hakushi = 3
Yokozuna = 3
Savio Vega = 3
Ken Shamrock = 3
Chyna = 3
Brutus Beefcake = 2
Paul Orndorff = 2
Andre the Giant = 2
Rick Rude = 2
Sgt Slaughter = 2
Jeff Jarrett = 2
Rey Mysterio = 2
Chavo Guerrero = 2
Jesse Ventura = 1
Texas Tornado = 1
Tito Santana = 1
Virgil = 1
Scott Steiner = 1
Rick Steiner = 1
Lex Luger = 1
The Roadie = 1
Billy Gunn = 1
Bart Gunn = 1
Marc Mero = 1
Flash Funk = 1
Animal = 1
Hawk = 1
Taka Michinoku = 1
Test = 1
Big Show = 1
Dean Malenko = 1
Scotty 2 Hotty = 1
Rhyno = 1

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter: @Mpmcc91. Thanks for reading!