Matt’s Last Look: Survivor Series 2014

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It’s the second longest running PPV in WWE history, the thanksgiving tradition known as Survivor Series. For the first time in the history of the company, the event was free to non-subscribers of the WWE Network (although it hardly feels like you are paying for any PPV these days with everything else on the network alone). In true Survivor Series fashion, the event was built primarily around a traditional elimination tag match. That was of course due to this being the second PPV coming off Hell in a Cell last month on which the WWE World Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar was not appearing. Instead, the selling point for the show was the stipulation that if Team Authority lost, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon would be out of power, whilst if Team Cena lost, they would be fired. Whatever happened, it had to be a better way to end the show than the Randy Orton vs Big Show mess of last year’s edition. With that said, lets take a last look at how this year’s event came across.

I caught most of the hour long pre-show this month. There were two matches that were both fairly quick and nondescript. The re-debuting Fandango (whose new entrance theme is a terrible remix of what was a great song), with Rosa Mendes by his side, defeated Justin Gabriel. Also, the Real Americans exploded once more as Jack Swagger beat Cesaro. Bad News Barrett seemingly made his return as well, but was nowhere to be seen the following night on Raw, so I’m not exactly sure what the deal is there. Once again, the Network was working perfectly, so it seems like most of the early glitches have been ironed out.

The actual show kicked off with a video package centred on the main event and the abuse of power exerted by the Authority over the past year. Good stuff as usual from the production team. After the opening pyro the usual announce team of Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler & John Bradshaw Layfield welcomed us to the show. Before the first match of the night, Mr McMahon’s music hit and he got a pretty good reaction. He brought out Triple H and Stephanie and essentially repeated what had already been said leading into the show regarding the stipulation on the main event. John Cena came out as well at Vince’s request. A further stipulation was added that if Team Cena won, he would be the only man capable of ever reinstating the Authority. Cue the heel turn rumours. Overall the segment went about fifteen minutes and could have been done on the Raw or Smackdown before the PPV. I understand having Vince make an appearance for the fans in the arena (I myself being slightly disappointed I didn’t get to see him live on the night after Mania), but in that case, this could have been on the pre-show while the two matches there could have been combined with a later one to make a lower card elimination tag.

WWE Tag Team Championship: Goldust & Stardust (c) vs The Usos vs Los Matadores w/El Torito vs The Miz & Damien Mizdow Winners: The Miz & Mizdow when Mizdow pinned Goldust at 15:25. Our first match on the actual PPV saw four teams battling over the tag titles held by the Dust Brothers. I was surprised that this was never made into an elimination match and was instead one fall to a finish. If that extra stipulation had been added, I feel like this could have been a really fun match like the pre-show match at Mania. There were two possibilities in this match – the champions retaining, or Miz & Mizdow winning the titles. The Usos had just spent most of the year with the straps before dropping them to Goldust & Stardust, so it didn’t really make sense for them to win the titles back two months later, while Los Matadores are just there to fill out matches like this. Going in I figured it would be Miz & Mizdow leaving with the titles, although I wouldn’t have been surprised if they had used a loss here to start Mizdow’s eventual breaking away and subsequent face turn. The titles did change hands though, and what we got was a decent match, although not quite what it could have been with an elimination stipulation. All the guys got some good spots in the match, including the Usos with their usual dives, but the crowd was all in on Mizdow for this one with loud “We want Mizdow” chants breaking out. For good reason as well as the guy has been hilarious in his role since teaming up with the Miz a few months back. His “stunt double” antics are the highlight of any match he is involved in and this was no exception. They milked the crowd heat in the early part of the match as well as he was quickly tagged out by Goldust the first time he entered the match. As is typical in these kinds of matches, the whole thing broke down towards the end with all eight guys (and El Torito) flying around ringside. The ending saw Jimmy Uso hit a splash from the top onto Goldust, only for Miz to tag himself in. Mizdow would do the same however, tagging himself into the match, and he covered Goldust for the win to a big pop. The new champions celebrated, with Miz taking both belts for himself, but Mizdow not showing any signs of dissension. It was a good choice to give them the win as Mizdow is over like crazy right now, and the Dusts weren’t really doing much with their reign. Then again, the tag division isn’t exactly stacked right now compared to where we were last year, as outside of this match there isn’t really any serious teams in the mix. I think Miz & Mizdow will hold onto the titles for a month or two before being the duo that finally loses to the debuting Ascension after next month’s Takeover event. My Grade: **3/4

After a commercial hyping Larry the Cable Guy (I still have no idea who he is) on the next night’s Raw, followed by Austin’s podcast with Vince McMahon (which I am really looking forward to). Back on the show, we went to the locker room where Adam Rose and the Bunny were playing with action figures and started arguing before being interrupted by Titus O’Neil and Heath Slater. A challenge was made for an impromptu match later in the show. No action figure segment can beat the Bad News Barrett one from earlier in the year.

Elimination Tag Match: Alicia Fox, Natalya, Naomi & Emma w/Tyson Kidd vs Paige, Cameron, Summer Rae & Layla Survivors: Alicia Fox, Natalya, Naomi & Emma Eliminations:

  • Cameron by Naomi via a roll-up at 6:12
  • Layla by Alicia Fox via a backbreaker at 9:29
  • Summer Rae by Emma via submission to the Emma Lock at 12:04
  • Paige by Naomi via a headscissors driver at 14:23

Our next match was a showcase for the divas not involved in the title match later on the show. Of course, it stems from Paige turning on Alicia last month, and the rest of the girls filled this one out. Its usual that we get a divas match like this at Survivor Series, but I was pleasantly surprised by the time this one was given as we actually got a pretty decent match. People crap on the division, but looking at this match there’s actually some pretty good talent there. The face team are all solid performers, whilst Paige is one of my favourite current female performers (along with AJ and Fox). Of course, there’s also the not very good ones in there like Cameron, but hey, her music is fun at least. The crowd didn’t really care, but its not like they had really been given a reason to with the lack of build this was given. As you can see from the eliminations above, the face team had a clean sweep here, whilst Paige was frustrated with her teammates letting her down. I was surprised that they didn’t have Paige walk out after the rest of her team were eliminated, but she was also pinned so it looks like she will be moving out of the title scene for a bit. I was surprised that the face team actually won, but with the way the diva’s title match went later it made sense to build up some face contenders with a win here. Overall this was fine, and I was glad the women got a chance to show their stuff rather than have eliminations going on every few seconds as we’ve seen in past years. Tyson Kidd was funny celebrating on the turnbuckle despite not doing anything at ringside.  My Grade: **1/2

After a recap of the events of the pre-show, we threw to the panel hosted by Renee Young. Like last month, it was comprised of Booker T, Alex Riley and Paul Heyman. They talked about the main event before we went to a video package looking at the Ambrose/Wyatt feud.

Dean Ambrose vs Bray Wyatt Winner: Bray Wyatt via DQ when Dean Ambrose hit him with a chair at 13:59. Our next match saw the much anticipated showdown between Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt after Wyatt cost Ambrose his chance at revenge on Seth Rollins last month at Hell in a Cell. Of course, being the first match in the feud, and being a regular contest, this was bound to go to a no contest of some kind, much like the Ambrose/Rollins feud earlier in the year. Before we got to that point however we actually got a solid performance from the two guys who showed aggression against each other. I’ve enjoyed the build to this match for the most part, and the action fit the way both men just wanted to fight one another. The action left the ring early on, with Wyatt sending Ambrose into the steps. After some trading of shots back inside, the steps were later brought back into play as Wyatt slammed Ambrose onto them. This was the point in the match that the storyline element kicked in however, as instead of continuing his assault, Wyatt grabbed a microphone and told Ambrose they could rule the world together. They would actually make a fun pairing one day, but of course Ambrose responded by punching Bray in the face. Wyatt told Ambrose that he was sorry he chose for it to be that way and brought some chairs into the ring. At this point we got a call back to Wyatt’s match with Cena at Mania as he got down and allowed Ambrose to hit him. Not one to worry about things like that, Ambrose nailed him with the chair to cause the DQ. What followed was a preview of things to come as Ambrose threw a bunch of chairs onto Wyatt. He also brought a table into the mix and put Bray through it with an elbow drop off the top. Afterwards, Ambrose pulled out a ladder and posed on top of it, making clear that the two would face off in a TLC match next month which may well headline that show. This was an effective preview of that match. Now, of course people will complain about not getting a proper finish, but I don’t really understand that mentality now that the Network as been launched. You aren’t paying for individual shows anymore (and if you aren’t a subscriber and ordered this on PPV when it was free I don’t know what to say) and chances are you’re going to get TLC next month as part of your subscription anyway. This wasn’t the match the show was built around, it was on the mid-card and the first chapter of a continuing feud. I really don’t think many people expected a decisive finish going in to begin with. The first ten minutes or so was solid enough for what it was. Not great by any stretch, but it wasn’t supposed to be. My Grade: **3/4

Backstage, Triple H and Stephanie gave a pep talk to their team. Stephanie came close to losing it, but Triple H stepped in and put over the importance of winning to the team rather than just themselves. Essentially, the message was if the Authority wasn’t in power, those who had pledged allegiance to them would have their lives made a misery. Triple H got them motivated and the team chanted “fight” together. A good segment to put over the implications of the main event.

Adam Rose & The Bunny vs Slater Gator Winners: Adam Rose & The Bunny when the Bunny pinned Heath Slater with a missile dropkick at 2:36. Well, this was the definition of filler. Its a match that would not have looked out of place on an episode of Superstars. Earlier when I mentioned putting the McMahon segment on the pre-show, this last minute addition to the card was the one I was alluding to. Instead of having a meaningless match like this, why not tap into the Survivor Series concept and make Swagger, Gabriel, Rose & the Bunny vs Cesaro, Fandango, Titus & Slater to eat up 10 or 15 minutes? As far as this was concerned, it was over before it began, with the Bunny once again stealing the spotlight from Rose to get the win continuing their issues. There’s not much else to say. I don’t really care about the Bunny storyline and hope somebody talented from NXT isn’t introduced as the reveal. The only good thing that can come of this is the Exotic Express surrounding the ring during the Royal Rumble to keep saving a heel Adam Rose from elimination. My Grade: 1/4*

At this point, the announcers conducted a “via satellite” interview with the injured Roman Reigns. He said he’ll be back in a month (possibly at TLC) before focusing his promo on Rollins and their history. That will likely be the feud he returns to after their Night of Champions match was cancelled. Reigns’ promo here was an improvement from the past few, but he still came off pretty awkward. He’s still my prediction to win the Rumble, but I’m concerned about where his momentum will be after missing out these past few months. Over the summer I defended him against people saying he wasn’t ready. He had time then. That time is quickly running out. I’ll reserve my judgment for January however. In the locker room, John Cena gave his team a pep talk. Erick Rowan was hilariously holding a rubix cube. He removed his mask and led the team in saying “win” in a display of unity.

WWE Diva’s Championship: AJ Lee (c) vs Nikki Bella w/Brie Bella Winner: Nikki Bella by pinfall with the Rack Attack at 0:35. Well, I certainly didn’t expect this. Our last title match of the night came to an end less than a minute after it started. Heading in I expected AJ to retain after some kind of miscommunication with Brie costing her sister the match prior to the end of the 30 day stipulation from last month. Instead, Brie pulled AJ into a kiss and in a call back to the Bryan/AJ spot from WrestleMania XXVIII, Nikki followed up for the quick victory. Now I have no issue with Nikki winning the title as she and her sister have both come a long way in the past year, but the whole thing makes no sense. Brie is suddenly a heel again working with Nikki after her sister turned on her for quitting earlier in the year. She was clearly established as a heel again the next night on Raw as well, but no explanation for her actions was given. They need to do that as otherwise this whole thing was ridiculous logic wise. Of course, the moment AJ lost everyone on the internet was ready to write her off as leaving the company in what seems to be approaching “John Cena is turning heel” levels. Well, she was on Raw and this feud is continuing. Can we finally put that rumour to bed now? My Grade: N/A (too short to grade)

The announcers mentioned that the TLC match between Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt next month had been made official. We then went to a video package for the main event.

Elimination Tag Match: John Cena, Dolph Ziggler, Big Show, Ryback & Erick Rowan vs Seth Rollins, Kane, Mark Henry, Rusev & Luke Harper w/Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, Joey Mercury, Jamie Noble & Lana Survivors: Dolph Ziggler Eliminations:

    • Mark Henry by Big Show via the Knockout Punch at 0:50
    • Ryback by Rusev via the Jumping Side Kick at 8:10
    • Rusev was counted out at 21:00
    • Erick Rowan by Luke Harper via a spinning clothesline at 24:14
    • John Cena by Seth Rollins via a Knockout Punch from Big Show at 25:11
    • Big Show was counted out at 26:30
    • Kane by Dolph Ziggler via the Zig-Zag at 29:35
    • Luke Harper by Dolph Ziggler via a roll-up at 31:35

Seth Rollins by Dolph Ziggler via the Zig-Zag after being placed on top by Sting at 43:07 Talk about an exhilarating roller-coaster of emotion. It was clear that this was the match that the entire PPV had been built around, and I don’t think there was any doubt going in that the Authority would be coming out on the losing end. Despite the result being the expected outcome, we got a ton of surprises thrown into this which made for an amazing main event. First off, I was shocked that Mark Henry was eliminated around a minute in, especially as I figured the whole story of the match would be Team Authority having the numbers advantage throughout the match. We’d get to that point eventually, but Henry’s elimination by Show was a total shock, and while it seemed illogical based on what happened later in the match, they did a good job explaining that away on Raw the next night. The surprises kept coming as the next man eliminated was the man who was really built up as the wildcard for Team Cena, as Ryback was the first man from the face team to fall. I thought he would be surviving at the end. I’m not a big Ryback fan so his elimination early on didn’t bother me. It was strange to see though as it looked like (and still does based on the following night) that he was being groomed for a significant re-push as a face. Rusev was the next man eliminated, and he was counted out after going through the announce table after missing an attack on Ziggler, which was the predictable but effective way of keeping him strong. It would have been stupid to give him his first loss in this match even if I do still think the character has a short shelf life. As the match continued we got a nice teaser of Harper and Rowan squaring off which got a good reaction from the crowd. It actually seems like they are going their own ways coming out of the show, but I’m sure they’ll cross paths again in the near future, and Harper pinning his former partner can fuel that. From there we got perhaps the biggest surprise of the match however. With Team Cena battling the odds already, Big Show knocked Cena out causing the team captain to be eliminated from the match! A Show turn is never all that shocking alone (he was overdue for his annual turn), but the idea of Cena being eliminated never crossed my mind as I expected him to be the one standing tall to end the show. Show’s actions were explained the following night as him deciding that due to the numbers game he thought his team was screwed, so he shifted his allegiance, rather than working with the Authority all along, which explains why he eliminated Henry early on in the match. With Show then walking out, the emotion really kicked in as Dolph Ziggler – a man who until the last few months had been booked terribly – was the one hope for his team to stick it to the Authority. The crowd heat really picked up as well and what we got was a star making performance for the Show Off. Up against Rollins, Kane and Harper, Ziggler stayed into it, and while I knew he had to overcome the odds, the fact that it was playing out with the focus on Ziggler had me standing in my living room as I watched. The last time I remember being anywhere near as emotionally vested in a main event was back in New Orleans for WrestleMania. Ziggler showed tremendous fire as he continued to fight back taking out Kane and Harper. He pretty much had Rollins pinned as well following a Zig Zag, only for Triple H taking out the ref. This led to further interference from Mercury and Noble, but Ziggler fought them off as well before hitting another Zig Zag on Rollins. Before he was able to capitalise, Triple H hit a Pedigree on Ziggler and brought out evil referee Scott Armstrong. With Rollins placed on Ziggler, Armstrong started the count, but was interrupted by the lights going out and a crow squawk that could mean only one thing was heard. New music hit and out walked Sting to a huge pop. In a surreal moment, he stared down Triple H to a loud “this is awesome” chant before they came to blows with Sting taking out the COO with a Scorpion Death Drop. He then placed Ziggler on top of Rollins before leaving and that was the end of the match and the Authority. The match will be remembered for two things – Ziggler’s star making performance, and the debut of the one big name that never made his way to the WWE. Just an awesome match and an excellent ending to what had otherwise been a fairly mediocre show. Sting’s debut didn’t take away from Ziggler’s efforts as he didn’t hit any extra moves on Rollins. He was just combatting the Triple H interference so I liked the way they used him. My Grade: ****1/2

After the match, Cena met Ziggler on the stage and hugged him in celebration. Back in the ring, Triple H regained consciousness and realised what had happened as Stephanie freaked out in the way that only she can. The crowd chanted “you are fired” as the show went off the air.

Three Stars of the Night:

1. Dolph Ziggler – nobody thought he would be the man who won the match for his team alone. This was a performance that moved Ziggler up from decent midcarder after the past few months to a ready made star. Its going to be interesting to see how they follow up on it.

2. Sting – he had to be in here – his long awaited arrival in the WWE. I was at the point where I never thought it would actually happen despite the DVD and network deal. Good to see him finally get his WWE recognition. I just wish they kept his classic Crow theme.

3. Seth Rollins – as I’ve said the past few months, Rollins feels like a main event heel since going out as Triple H’s protege. He pretty much has been the main heel on TV when Lesnar hasn’t been around and he’s played that role well. I don’t think he’ll be cashing in before post-Mania, but he’s doing a great job. Tonight was no exception as he delivered on his side in the main event.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Survivor Series was a show that was completely carried by the main event. Including entrances and post-match antics, that took up almost a third of the show though, so its a difficult PPV to grade overall. The main event was awesome. There’s no other way to put it. For the most part, the rest of the card was decent but nothing especially worth checking out if you missed it. The tag title and divas elimination tag matches were fun, and the Ambrose/Wyatt match served its purpose for what it was. There was also some questionable stuff like having the opening McMahon segment take away time that could have went to a midcard elimination tag match, and the total mess of the diva’s title match that made no sense whatsoever. Overall, the PPV is one of the lower level shows as far as quality is concerned, but the main event definitely helped it from being what could otherwise have been a poor one without a great match on it. Sting’s appearance on this show was a moment that nobody will forget, and one that a lot of us never thought would happen. I had seen the rumours the day of the PPV but I was still skeptical since it seemed like we had been hearing it for years. He did not appear on Raw the next night, which made his appearance here even more special. I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see him on TV until WrestleMania season either. I think one thing is certain – we can pencil in Triple H vs Sting for WrestleMania 31. It’s not happening beforehand, nor should it.  In the more immediate future, the company shifts gears towards the TLC PPV in a few weeks, the last major event of 2014. Two matches have been made official as of the time of writing – Ambrose vs Wyatt in a tables, ladders & chairs match which should be a really good contest, and Ryback vs Kane, which is just part of rebuilding “the Big Guy”. I figured based on his turn we would be getting Cena/Show once again as well, but it seems like that might not be happening based on Show confronting Erick Rowan on Raw. For that reason I’m very interested in seeing where they go with Dolph Ziggler and John Cena. Logic would dictate one of them gets Seth Rollins next month, but where would that put the other? I don’t think they are just going to toss Dolph aside after this show as some might fear. After all, you could have had the exact same ending with Cena in his position if you weren’t serious about taking Dolph to that next level. Cena taking TLC off isn’t completely unheard of (it happened in 2011) but with the all the injuries they probably won’t want to do that, especially since they want to get some of the people who tuned in to this show to subscribe for the network next month. I like a show headlined by Wyatt/Ambrose and Rollins/Ziggler, but without Cena I don’t know if it will appeal to casual fans. It actually seems like Rollins has too many potential opponents as we’ll likely see Roman Reigns and Randy Orton make their return at or after TLC too, both of whom have unfinished business with him. Some new heel depth is definitely needed at the top of the card – and no, John Cena isn’t turning. He has Lesnar at the Rumble after all. As far as who runs the show with the Authority out of power, it looks like we’re going to have a guest GM for the next few weeks. The next night on Raw we got the return of Daniel Bryan in that capacity in what was a fitting end to his long storyline with the Authority going back to SummerSlam last year. Honestly, I would have liked to see him stay in that role until he’s ready to compete again just to keep him on our screens. It was great seeing him again. Next week will see the Anonymous GM (I guess we’re supposed to forget it was Hornswoggle) although I imagine thats also a one week thing for the “Cyber Monday” themed episode of Raw, which will likely be along the lines of the old Cyber Sunday and Fan’s Choice shows. Triple H and Stephanie will be back eventually to set up the Sting feud, likely after Sting convinces Cena to reinstate them so he can have his Mania showdown with the Game. We probably won’t see them until next year though. Survivor Series wrapped up the long running Authority storyline. Triple H and Stephanie finally got their comeuppance and now the company will move forward to slowly line up the pieces for WrestleMania season. I’m looking forward to see how we get there.  FINAL GRADE: 6 out of 10
2014 PPV Rankings Thus Far:

    • WrestleMania XXX (9.5)
    • SummerSlam (8)
    • Hell in a Cell (7.5)
    • Night of Champions (7.5)
    • Payback (7.5)
    • Money in the Bank (7)
    • Elimination Chamber (7)
    • Battleground (7)
    • Extreme Rules (7)
    • Survivor Series (6)
    • Royal Rumble (6)

Author: Matt McCulloch