Some had wondered if the team concept was becoming outdated, but the with the onset of addition pay-per-views in 1995, Survivor Series needed that unique selling point more than ever to differentiate it from the plethora of other shows, WWF or otherwise. Prior to his departure, Bill Watts had proposed a twist on the tried and tested formula; a match mixing heels and babyfaces on the same team, competing against another team with similar composition. Previously, it was almost unheard of to muddy the lines in such a manner, but Vince agreed to run with it and the "Wild Card Match" was born.
Pitting Shawn Michaels, Ahmed Johnson, Davey Boy Smith and Sid against Yokozuna, Owen Hart, Razor Ramon and Dean Douglas, the bout was as interesting politically as it was on the screen. The fraught tensions between many of the performers and the coming together of various rival cliques and factions, both as partners and opponents, made for a potentially volatile situation. For the road agents dealing with structuring the bout, keeping the egos of everyone involved happy was like being asked to solve the riddle of an international crisis.
Shawn Michaels was reluctant to work with Dean Douglas, whom the Kliq had no desire to have any further involvement with. Yokozuna was at the head of the BSKs and had little time for Michaels, and he certainly wouldn't tolerate any of his prima-donna displays of petulance. Shawn had no problems with Smith or Hart though, because he respected them as workers. Davey was someone he would hang out with the Kliq were not around, and pretty much everyone from any political leaning had a soft spot for notorious practical joker Owen. But one man Michaels wasn't so keen on was newcomer Ahmed Johnson.
Johnson was pegged by Bill Watts as the WWF's answer to the Junkyard Dog (who had the best run of his career under Watts) or Ron Simmons (the first black WCW Champion, another decision made by Watts). He was to receive a huge promotional push and become a black hero, something Watts had felt the lily-white WWF was sorely lacking. As it was Johnson's televised in-ring debut, there was no question he had to be presented well and protected in how he was booked. It would have been entirely counterproductive to have him get beat. Quite the opposite; Ahmed Johnson had to win and he had to win well. Michaels was wary of him, considering him a threat to his spot, as he looked like he was chiselled out of stone and yet could move like a cat.*
(*Though as one member of the locker-room later quipped, he might have moved as quick as a cat, but he did so with all the grace of an elephant.)
Smith and Owen were not part of a named clique, they, along with Bret Hart, were simply family members who occasionally rode together and watched each other's backs. Unlike the other groups, they were far from exclusive road partners, and would often hang out and travel with others. Generally well liked the majority of the locker-room, Davey and Owen didn't have heat with anyone coming into the match.
The soon to be departing Tory Martin did. As well as Michaels, serious tension still simmered between he and Scott Hall, and the potential for another verbal blow-up between the two was always on the horizon. They had exchanged oral barbs more than once, and a full-on fistfight always seemed just a moment away. Martin had also lost the respect of Yokozuna after the back injury incident in Germany, so he came into the match with guys who disliked him on both sides.
The novelty of the contest made it entertaining for the fans, and almost unbelievably it played out without any serious issues between the participants. Unsurprisingly, given that his tenure with the company was drawing to a close, Dean Douglas was the first man scripted to be eliminated from the match. He was the victim of a pact amongst the Kliq that they would only work together, or with the boys in their favour. Douglas quickly fell to Shawn Michaels, who made sure the secure a decisive and clean win over Martin before his departure, in one last snub to the former 'Franchise'. But Martin couldn't care less, he just wanted to get out of the WWF as quickly as possible.
The Kliq had engineered the match so they had a hand in nearly every elimination, and while Yokozuna was covered by Johnson for the match winning pinfall, it was only after having absorbed a Michaels superkick to the chin. The three men who stood tall as the victors were little surprise; Ahmed Johnson was being pushed hard and fast, Davey Boy Smith was working with the WWF Champion again at In Your House 5 the next month, and Shawn Michaels was about to have a promotional rocket strapped to his back.
The match was Michaels' first televised outing since the Syracuse incident a month earlier, but he hadn't missed a beat. There was an unspoken concern amongst some in the booking office about what reaction Michaels would get, and whether his credibility had been shattered, or if fans would perceive him as being a phony. They didn't. Michaels was more popular than ever, and the portrayal of the Syracuse assault on Titan television had actually helped generate interest in his subsequent storyline quest for the WWF Championship, just as Vince McMahon had intended it would.