WWF Survivor Series 1995: A Retrospective Review

The mid-’90s were a period of evolution for the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). As the company gravitated from the larger-than-life caricatures of the previous decade to a grittier, more reality-based product, 1995’s Survivor Series stood as a testament to this shifting paradigm. Held on November 19, 1995, this installment wasn’t just about the matches; it was about storylines, politics, and the backstage dynamics that would shape the company’s direction.

The event kicked off with a traditional Survivor Series elimination match, a format that has always been synonymous with the pay-per-view. The Underdogs (Marty Jannetty, Hakushi, Bob Holly, and Barry Horowitz) versus The Bodydonnas (Skip, Rad Radford, Tom Prichard, and The 1-2-3 Kid) was a display of the company’s mid-card talent. While none of these superstars were main event players at the time, the bout showcased their collective wrestling prowess. The match had its moments, with the dynamics between The 1-2-3 Kid and Jannetty being a highlight, reflecting their ongoing feud.

Another Survivor Series elimination match featured The Darkside (The Undertaker, Fatu, Henry O. Godwinn, and Savio Vega) versus The Royals (King Mabel, Jerry Lawler, Isaac Yankem, and Hunter Hearst Helmsley). The inclusion of The Undertaker, one of WWF’s top stars, added significant gravitas to this contest. The match, while not a technical masterpiece, was notable for the looming presence of The Undertaker and the early showcasing of Helmsley, who would later morph into the powerhouse “Triple H.”

The women’s division showcased a traditional elimination match with Bertha Faye, Aja Kong, Tomoko Watanabe, and Lioness Asuka against Alundra Blayze, Kyoko Inoue, Sakie Hasegawa, and Chaparita Asari. This match was particularly noteworthy as it featured talents from Japan’s vibrant joshi scene. Aja Kong, a dominant figure in Japanese women’s wrestling, was the standout, displaying her brute strength and unique style

The Wild Card match, a concept unique to this event, saw faces and heels intermingling, producing Razor Ramon, Dean Douglas, Owen Hart, and Yokozuna against Shawn Michaels, Ahmed Johnson, British Bulldog, and Psycho Sid. This unpredictable blend of allies and rivals made for compelling viewing, with individual feuds and storylines intersecting throughout the bout. The charisma of Shawn Michaels and the intensity of Ahmed Johnson were particularly notable, pointing to their significant roles in WWF’s future.

Certainly, the match between Bret “The Hitman” Hart and Diesel at Survivor Series 1995 is still discussed today for the change it represented and the glimpse it provided into the direction WWF was heading. Here’s a detailed breakdown:

Bret Hart vs. Diesel – WWF Championship, No Disqualification Match

Setting the Stage: Diesel, Kevin Nash’s WWF character, held the WWF Championship, and by late 1995, he was deep into his year-long reign as the champion. While a towering figure with an imposing presence, Diesel was often positioned as a “cool” face, standing in contrast to some of the company’s prior babyface champions.

Bret Hart, on the other hand, was the company’s workhorse. An impeccable technician in the ring, Bret could always be counted on to deliver top-notch matches, regardless of the opponent. His underdog persona combined with his wrestling acumen made him a fan favorite.

The Match: From the outset, it was evident that this wasn’t going to be a typical WWF main event. Given the no-disqualification stipulation, it allowed for a more brutal, intense style that the WWF was only starting to embrace.

Diesel used his size advantage to overpower Bret early on. The match’s structure allowed Diesel to exhibit his strength and dominance, hurling Bret around with sidewalk slams and big boots, showcasing the vast difference in their physicalities.

Bret, the tactician that he was, used Diesel’s aggression against him, capitalizing on mistakes and targeting Diesel’s legs, setting up for his patented Sharpshooter submission hold. The outside area became an essential part of the bout, with the steel steps and the announcers’ table being used as weapons, adding an element of danger and unpredictability to the proceedings.

In what became one of the match’s most iconic moments, Diesel jackknifed Bret through the announcers’ table, a spot that was quite uncommon for its time in WWF. This moment underscored the match’s intensity and the lengths both were willing to go to emerge victorious.

As the match neared its climax, Bret’s strategy of focusing on Diesel’s legs began paying dividends. Weary and unable to leverage his power fully, Diesel became more susceptible to Bret’s technical onslaught.

The finish, true to the match’s theme, was gritty and resourceful. Bret trapped Diesel in a small package after feigning injury, getting the three-count and winning the WWF Championship. The ending was brilliant in its execution, as it showed Bret’s cunning and wrestling intelligence, outsmarting a larger and more powerful opponent.

Post-match, Diesel’s frustration was palpable. In a rare display of aggression, he delivered two jackknife powerbombs to Bret, foreshadowing Diesel’s heel turn or tweener turn and the edgier direction his character, and the WWF at large, would take.

Behind-the-scenes Dynamics:

The 1995 Survivor Series, like many events of the time, was infused with the presence and influence of “The Kliq” – a backstage group of friends that included Shawn Michaels, Diesel, Razor Ramon, Triple H, and the 1-2-3 Kid. Their influence was palpable throughout the night. From Diesel’s main event spot to Razor and Triple H’s significant roles, The Kliq’s shadow loomed large over the proceedings.

This influence wasn’t just limited to screen time. Rumors and stories from the time suggest that The Kliq had significant sway over creative decisions, with other talents often feeling sidelined or overshadowed by the group’s members. This dynamic would play a pivotal role in the backstage politics of the time, leading to tensions and controversies that are still discussed today.


Survivor Series 1995 stands as an encapsulation of WWF’s mid-’90s phase. From the remnants of the golden era, personified by talents like Bret Hart, to the seeds of the edgier content that would define the latter part of the decade, the event is a melting pot of styles, characters, and directions. The traditional elimination matches, the infusion of international talent, and the harder-hitting main event all showcase a company in flux, evolving and adapting to the changing tastes of its audience.

While it may not be the most iconic or critically acclaimed installment in the Survivor Series lineage, the 1995 event offers invaluable insights into the company’s trajectory. It is a vivid snapshot of a period of change, a window into a world of wrestling that was balancing its storied past while tentatively stepping into an uncertain but exciting future.

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