This upcoming Sunday is the 31st annual Survivor Series. To look back at the first 30 events and determine who the all-time great performers in traditional Survivor Series matches are, what data should you use? Most appearances? Most wins? Most eliminations? The answer: all of the above.
We used this formula to try and determine the top 5 performers in Survivor Series history:
1 point for participating in a match
2 points for eliminating an opponent
-2 points for being the first eliminated in a match
5 points for being a member of the winning team
5 bonus points for being a "survivor" of the winning team
Another 5 bonus points for being the "sole survivor"
We did the viewing and the math. Here's the top five:
5. Hulk Hogan -- 89 points
Hulk Hogan's Survivor Series career didn't get off to a great start. At the inaugural 1987 Survivor Series, Hogan was eliminated from the main event when King Kong Bundy and the One Man Gang prevented him from getting back in the ring, forcing a count-out. Hogan's team would go on to lose to Andre the Giant's team, with Andre the sole survivor.
However, that would remain Hogan's lone loss in traditional Survivor Series matches, winning four straight and surviving in each of the four wins. That includes two wins as the sole survivor in 1989 and 1990. Hogan's score was further boosted by the "Ultimate Survivor" match in 1990, a match where the survivors of the night's earlier matches competed against each other. He and the Ultimate Warrior would survive and win the match for their team.
Hogan eliminated only seven opponents in his Survivor Series career, including at least one elimination in each of his five career matches.
4. Ultimate Warrior -- 93 points
While he only competed in four Survivor Series matches, no one was more consistent in this match than Ultimate Warrior. He was a perfect 4-0, tied with The Undertaker, Randy Savage and John Cena for the most wins without a loss in Survivor Series history. If Warrior's initial WWE run hadn't lasted just five years, he would have moved up this list in a hurry.
What's more impressive is that Warrior was a survivor for the winning team in all four matches. On top of that, he was a sole survivor three times, tied for most in Survivor Series history.
The one instance where Warrior wasn't a sole survivor? In 1990, he and Hulk Hogan both survived the previously-mentioned "Ultimate Survivor" match, a bout that would end up being his final Survivor Series appearance.
3. Shawn Michaels -- 100 points
Longevity alone earned Shawn Michaels the No. 3 spot on this list. Michaels has competed in 11 traditional Survivor Series matches, two more than any other superstar in WWE history.
Michaels' five wins in Survivor Series matches are tied for most in the history of the match, and he was a survivor of the winning team in three of those victories (1995, 2006 and 2008). Only Ric Flair had two instances of surviving a Survivor Series match occur farther apart than Michaels, doing it in 1991 and 2006.
Michaels' best Survivor Series match performance may have been in 2006 (20 points), a staggering 18 years after making his Survivor Series debut. Michaels eliminated two opponents (Mike Knox and Edge), and his sweet chin music on Randy Orton led to Triple H earning the final elimination and giving Team DX the clean sweep victory over Team Rated RKO.
2. Big Show - 102 points
While Big Show doesn't have a stellar win-loss record in his 18-year WWE tenure, his eight wins at Survivor Series are his most at any pay-per-view event, including five wins in traditional Survivor Series matches.
Big Show has 13 career Survivor Series eliminations, second most in WWE history.
The highlight of Big Show's Survivor Series career came in his first appearance in 1999. After attacking his teammates prior to the event, he defeated Big Boss Man, Prince Albert, Mideon and Viscera in a 1-on-4 handicap Survivor Series match in less than two minutes. That earned him 27 points according our formula, a total only surpassed by Roman Reigns in 2013 (29) and Aja Kong in 1995 (29).
However, Big Show may remember the 1999 Survivor Series for another reason: he went on to defeat Triple H and The Rock in the main event to win his first WWE championship.
1. Randy Orton - 127 points
Formulas and metrics aren't necessary to know that Randy Orton is one of the all-time greats at Survivor Series. However, after crunching the numbers, Orton finishes a full 25 points ahead of Big Show. That is a bigger gap than between Big Show and eighth place Tito Santana (21-point difference).
Orton was the sole survivor for the winning team in each of his first three career Survivor Series matches in 2003-05. If you take the points that he earned in those three matches (73), that alone would have tied him with Dolph Ziggler for ninth place on this list.
Orton was a survivor for the winning team five times, the most in Survivor Series history. Additionally, Orton has eliminated a Survivor Series-record 14 opponents, 12 of which are former WWE world champions.
Orton will look to extend his record this year as be enters his 10th career traditional Survivor Series match, second most in WWE history (Shawn Michaels - 11). He also looks to become the first superstar to win six Survivor Series matches.