After the rotten timing of Daniel Bryan’s career-threatening injury, the disbanding of the Shield and far too much camera time devoted to getting Triple H and Stephanie McMahon over, I’ve largely stopped watching WWE, but the lure of the Survivor Series — one of my favorite ppv gimmicks — and the rumors of the debut of a wrestling legend potential major was enough to convince me to check out last night’s show.
For the most part, I was glad I did and hopefully, WWE can build on the buzz from the show to roll along to an exciting March to Wrestlemania. Here’s my quick thoughts on the show:
The show kicks off like another episode of RAW with a 10-minute discussion with Vince, The Authortity (Triple H and Steph) and Cena. While Cena’s team will be fired if they lose, The Authority will lose all power over the roster and can only be reinstated by Cena. This was ppv time-filler, but with The Network’s new ppv format, it’s harder to complain about paying for a RAW segment on a big show. Still, this really could have been handled on RAW or Smackdown.
Fatal Four Way for WWE Tag Team Championships: The Usos vs. Miz & Mizdow vs. Los Matadores vs. Goldust & Stardust (c)
I loathe the Fatal Four Way format of the first team to get the pinfall wins and it’s especially annoying during the Survivor Series. Cut out a filler match and just go the standard elimination route. Not like these teams have to be protected and can’t take a pinfall/DQ/count-out loss. Sandow is doing this goofy, but really fun gimmick where he’s The Miz’s stunt double and mimics his every move. In true WWE irony, Sandow has now finally gotten over with the fans by being a better version of The Miz. The fans aren’t interested in much else besides Mizdow even though everyone is working hard. My “Total Divas” viewing has me slightly rooting for The Usos, but Stardust and Mizdow are clearly the hot acts in the match. And for a change, the promotion goes with what the fans want to see and Mizdow gets the pin and we’ve got new champs. Nice touch for Miz to grab both belts so Mizdow won’t get any glory.
Bray Wyatt vs. Dean Ambrose
Geesh, remember back in February when these two faced off as part of that amazing Shield vs Wyatt Family from Elimination Chamber? Now two of the promotion’s can’t miss prospects are fighting to remain relevant. Ambrose’s unstable act remains a lot of fun and reminds me of Roddy “Rowdy” Piper in the mid-90s when he doubled up on the insanity to cover for his declining skills, but in Ambrose’s case, he’s in his prime and can make his matches show-stealers.
This one ends in a DQ to set up a Tables, Ladders and Chairs encounter at TLC, where we could presume Wyatt’s new allies will debut. Either way, that should be an entertaining rematch.
Traditional Survivor Series Divas match: Naomi, Emma, Alicia Fox and Natalya (with Tyson Kidd) vs. Paige, Layla, Summer Rae and Cameron.
Cole manages to botch Cameron’s catchphrase saying “Bye Girl,” instead of “GirlBye,” but Cole has been so bad for so long it’s hard to get worked up about it anymore. The Divas division is stacked (no pun intended), but it could reach the match quality of the Golden Age Lita, Trish Stratus, Molly Holly, Jazz, Victoria, Mickie James and Ivory era if Naomi, Natayla, Paige, AJ and Emma were the focus. Emma especially looked impressive and that’s largely because I know how good Naomi and Natayla are and am continually annoyed they haven’t gotten to enjoy significant runs with the Divas title. That was more apparent after their team survived intact with Naomi getting the final elimination on Paige.
Divas Championship: AJ Lee (c) vs Nikki Bella
Just as the match starts, Brie grabs AJ’s title and then kisses her, allowing enough time for the shocked AJ to get attacked and pinned by Nikki giving us a new Divas champ. This was a twist on the Daniel Bryan/Sheamus match where Bryan kisses AJ and walks into a boot by Sheamus to lose his title in 18 seconds and surprisingly, the commentators are on top of it and get the reference. This is probably the best way to explain how Nikki Bella could possibly beat AJ.
Traditional Survivor Series Main Event: Team Cena – John Cena, The Big Show, Erik Rowan, Dolph Ziggler and Ryback vs. Team Authority – Seth Rollins, Kane, Mark Henry, Luke Harper and Rusev (with Lana)
I HATED that everyone from the announcers to Triple H were trying to get these teams over as the best Survivor Series teams assembled. Here’s a few more impressive teams: Andre the Giant, One Man Gang, King Kong Bundy, Butch Reed and Rick Rude (1987); Ultimate Warrior, Texas Tornado and Legion of Doom (1990); Lex Luger, The Undertaker and The Steiners (1993); The Rock, Chris Jericho, The Undertaker, Kane and The Big Show (2001) and Triple H, Shawn Michaels, CM Punk and The Hardys (2007).
Mark Henry gets the Butch Reed treatment and is immediately eliminated at the start of the match courtesy of a KO punch from Big Show.
The WWE is giving Rollins every chance to come across like a real player and he’s thrived under the spotlight. After all the effort in rebuilding Ryback, it seemed anti-climactic to have him get pinned clean by Rusev with a small assist from Rollins. Ziggler gets beat down in The Authority corner and seems headed for elimination when Rusev takes him outside preparing to squash him through a table, but Zigs gets out of the way and avoids the count-out giving Team Cena a 4-3 advantage.
We get the “long-awaited” clash of the Wyatt Family as Rowan and Harper square off. There wasn’t enough time to develop this segment beyond a curiosity factor, but the fans dug it. Harper takes his former ally out with a tremendous lariat to tie the teams again.
And then, Big Show got back in the ring and seemed to brace himself to carry his team as Ziggler was back on the floor and Cena was struggling to get back to his feet in the ring before opting to KO Cena, allowing Rollins to get the pinfall.
From a storyline perspective, Big Show’s turn (kinda) made sense. No use getting fired because the rest of his team can’t hold up their end. But Show had already KO’ed one member of the opposing team and still had Cena (and Ziggler) to rely on. Worse, it was the 1,962 turn from Big Show, a character as stale as Kane who flip flops about twice a year. Ryback or Rowan turning would have been more impactful as we’re not used to seeing them turn so often.
Ziggler was the sole representative for his team in the Randy Orton spot (Orton won three consecutive traditional Survivor Series matches, which helped showcase him as a major player during his formative years) facing off against Harper, Kane and Rollins. Ziggler managed to endure attacks from Kane and Harper to pin them both, but The Authority makes sure he won’t defeat Rollins with major interference and referee attacks. Triple H pedigrees Ziggler and all hope is lost until…
For all the interviews I’ve read about Sting’s reluctance to come to the WWE because he didn’t want the “Booker Who?” treatment where Booker T’s WCW career was laughed away upon arriving in the WWE, it was pretty cool hearing Bradshaw and Cole running down Sting’s resume and making it clear to fans who somehow don’t know him, that Sting is a HUGE deal. I was fighting sleep as I watched the show at 3 a.m., but when Sting arrived, I was wide awake and geeked out like it was 1997 and Sting was about to stop the nWo.
Sting and Triple H eyeball each other for awhile, before Triple H goes for the first shot, but Sting counters and lays him out with the Scorpion Deathdrop. Then, Sting drags Ziggler on top of Rollins and a referee makes the pin giving Team Cena the victory.
The only bad thing about the confrontation was that Rollins and Ziggler had to take a 15-minute nap in the process before the final pinfall, kind of cutting the legs out of Ziggler’s shining moment. Course, it’s not like Ziggler survives Team Authority will be what we remember of this show years from now.
So after rumors, game appearances and home video releases, Sting has finally come to the WWE. While it’d be silly to expect a five-star classic with Sting vs. Triple H, Cena or whoever else is brought out (I’d LOVE to see Sting vs. The Rock of all the possible matchups), the icon is finally in WWE and it’s about to be showtime, folks!