Team D-Generation X (Triple H, Shawn Michaels, CM Punk, and the Hardys) vs. Team Rated-RKO (“The Rated-R Superstar” Edge, Randy Orton, Gregory Helms, Johnny Nitro, and Mike Knox) w/ Kelly Kelly and Melina
For those that remember back in the day when Chad Campbell did the Previews, he at one point took a look at all of Triple H’s matches from Armageddon 2002 to Wrestlemania XX. I have decided that I will do the same template that he did, but rather focus on one guy’s full PPV career instead of just a specific timeframe. As the years have gone on since the 2000s started, there have been many guys that the internet wrestling community have latched onto due to either their workrate or their characters. When their favorite works in another company or the indies before finally coming to WWE, they immediately expect them to be pushed otherwise they will accuse WWE of burying them or trying to stifle their momentum. While there have been many that fit this bill, there is perhaps no one wrestler that the IWC holds in such high regard than Phil Brooks, better known to all as CM Punk. After having good runs in the indies, TNA, and Ring of Honor, it was quite a moment when he signed with WWE and right out of the gate, many wondered if he would be booked well or booked poorly. Looking back at his run, many would say that he had a lot of great moments and matches, but at the end of the day never reach his full potential with Punk himself saying his career with WWE was a failure. So I have decided that I will see if in fact he is right in his assumption or if in fact he did have a great career and perhaps took it for granted for whatever reason and it was more of a self-fulfilling prophecy with him. So starting with this show and ending with his last PPV match in 2014, I will look at all of Punk’s PPVs matches anytime he is on and whenever he’s not on a PPV, I will just review a different match. Now if he appears in a multi-man match like Survivor matches or the Rumble, I will focus more on what he was doing in terms of build while also mentioning the other feuds going on. I think this will be very exciting and will be interesting to look back on Punk’s career, but at the same time it will be sad since there are a lot of matches I will not get to review though I promise that I will stay the course on this project. To that point, I am officially calling this the “Previewing of Punk” which I know is not as snazzy as “Summer of Punk”, but I feel that it ties well into where I’m going with these previews.
The feud between Punk and Knox began on 9/16 when Knox’s girlfriend Kelly Kelly began showing an interest in Punk which made Knox jealous. On 10/3, Kelly danced for Punk until Knox took her away and warned Punk to stay away from her, and Knox would attempt to attack Punk after his matches only for Punk to avoid it. On 10/31, Kelly dressed as Punk for a Halloween contest and Knox berated her until Punk made the save, and on 11/7 Punk defeated Knox to qualify for the Extreme Elimination Chamber at December to Dismember. On 11/14, Punk would again defeat Knox in a match and it was announced that they would face off as part of the DX/Rated-RKO Survivor match. This feud was pretty interesting as I’m sure the company saw Knox as a guy that was right up their alley, but they kept Punk strong against him and what’s more interesting is that Punk seemed to be indifferent that Kelly was clearly hitting on him. As for the rest of the match, the feud between DX and Rated-RKO continued after Cyber Sunday and was intensified when Rated-RKO defeated Ric Flair and Roddy Piper on the 11/13 RAW to win the World Tag Team Championships. Matt would continue feuding with Helms as Helms defeated Matt in a No Mercy rematch on 10/27, and on the 11/10 Smackdown Matt would defeat Helms in a tag match and then he would defeat Helms again on 11/17. Jeff and Nitro also continued their feud as the night after Cyber Sunday, Nitro would defeat Jeff to regain the Intercontinental Championship. The next week on 11/13, Jeff would defeat Nitro to regain the title and it was announced that the Hardys would compete at December to Dismember, and they had an open contract to face any team at the show. The builds were pretty basic for this whole match and both teams were pretty stacked with talent, and this had the potential to be a really good Survivor match.
Obviously, Team DX get huge pops from the crowd and the energy keeps up as all 5 men play to the crowd, and it is also very obvious that Punk is the most over with the Philadelphia crowd to the point that Triple H has him ask the fans “Are You Ready?”. Team Rated-RKO were really hot as heels and Knox looks to start for his team, but Triple H then has Kelly step onto the apron and attempt to flash him as he covers Michaels’ eyes. Knox gets in his face and shoves him back only to turn around into Sweet Chin Music from Michaels, and he gets the three and eliminates Knox before asking his partners sarcastically who that was. As funny as the segment was, it was a bit of a burial of Knox which was weird again considering he had a good look and could be something of a player. Nitro comes in and they lock up as the crowd chants for Punk and Michaels hooks a headlock, and he knocks Nitro down before sliding out of the ring and putting his arm around Melina who starts to embrace him only for both to freak out when she sees that it’s Michaels in another funny spot. He rolls back into the ring and chops at Nitro as Melina screams in pain and works the arm before tagging Jeff, and he continues to work the arm before catching him ducking with a kick and he hits a sleeper slam. Matt tags in and they hit a double elbow on Nitro before hitting a double team for a two count, but Nitro sends Matt into the buckle and tags Helms who pounds on Matt in the corner. He whips Matt into the other corner only for Matt to hit a back elbow and he goes up to the middle rope, but Helms yanks him to the mat and tags Edge who stomps on Matt before mocking him. He pounds on Matt and tags Helms who hits a suplex on Matt and he quickly tags Orton, and he stomps on Matt who is bleeding from the mouth as J.R. and King mention how Orton has been dominant the last three years at Survivor Series in some nice continuity. Nitro tags in and pounds on Matt before kicking him to the mat, but Matt tries to battle back and Nitro gets a kick in only for Matt to catch him in a Side Effect. Punk gets the hot tag to a big pop and he pounds on Nitro before hitting a flying forearm, and he rams the knees into Nitro and whips him into the corner before hitting a running knee to the face and a running bulldog. Nitro blocks the uranage only for Punk to duck a shot and Matt hotshots Nitro on the top rope, and Punk hits the uranage and locks on the Anaconda Vice as Nitro taps out to a pop and is eliminated. This has been a very good first few minutes of the match as the action as pretty much been non-stop since the bell and by this point, it was starting to look like Team DX may survive intact.
Edge comes in and knocks Punk down before stomping on him and ramming him into the buckle, and he pounds on Punk before whipping him into the corner only for Punk to catch him with a boot to the face. Punk pounds on Edge in the corner as Helms distracts the ref which allows Orton to hotshot Punk on the top rope, and Edge drops an elbow on Punk and chokes him on the mat before tagging Orton. Orton hits a standing dropkick on Punk for a two count and tags Helms who kicks at Punk and pounds on him, and he hooks a front facelock on Punk and rams the knee into his face repeatedly. The crowd chants for Punk as Helms continues to grind down on him, and Punk fights to his feet and attempts to break the hold only for Helms to hit a kneebreaker to the face. He drags Punk to his corner and tags Orton who stomps on Punk and he poses to taunt the crowd, and Punk tries to battle back as the two trade blows with Punk taking control only for Orton to hit the RKO. Orton goes for the pin only for Michaels to break it up and Edge tags in as he sets up for the Spear, but Punk avoids the Spear as Edge hits the buckle and HHH gets the hot tag. He hits a clothesline on Helms and knocks Orton to the floor before pounding on Helms, and Helms ducks a shot only for HHH to hit the high knee and then he avoids a shot from Orton before hitting the high knee. Helms reverses a whip only for HHH to catch him ducking with a kneebreaker and he attempts the Pedigree, but Edge comes in and hits the Edge-o-Matic on HHH only for Michaels to knock him to the floor. Orton nails Michaels from behind only for Jeff to knock him to the floor and then Michaels and Jeff hit stereo slingshot planchas onto Team Rated-RKO in a great spot, and HHH avoids the Shining Wizard and hits the spinebuster on Helms. Matt tags in and hits the Twist of Fate on Helms as Jeff goes up top and hits the Swanton Bomb to a big pop, and Matt gets the three and eliminates Helms as it is now 5-on-2. Team DX get in the ring as Edge and Orton grab their tag titles and start to head to the back, but the Hardys nail them from behind and throw them back into the ring. DX pounds on them as HHH clotheslines Orton over the top to the floor and Punk hits the running knee on Edge in the corner, and then the Hardys hit Poetry in Motion on Edge as Michaels hits SCM and gets the three, eliminating Edge as Orton is now all alone. I thought it was perfect to have Orton be last for his team as he has been the sole survivor for the last three years which was played up on commentary, and now faces a daunting task of 5-on-1. Orton tries to bail into the crowd as the Hardys and Punk chase after him and they catch him and throw him back to ringside, and Matt throws Orton into the ring and he avoids HHH only to turn into SCM from Michaels. HHH then hits the Pedigree on Orton and gets the three, winning the match for his team as they survive in full and they become only the 6th Survivor Series team in history to survive in full.
Overall, the match itself was pretty good as all 10 men worked hard and put on a solid Survivor match. There was a really good mix of talent here and everyone got a chance to shine aside from Knox who was knocked out in less than a minute which again was a shame. On the flip side, Nitro and Helms did get some good shine in this match as did Rated-RKO and Team DX also had a lot of shine in the match. On the surface, having Team DX win in a clean sweep may seem like a burial of Team Rated-RKO, but it really wasn’t as Team Rated-RKO looked good and Team DX was just too great to have anyone get eliminated. As for Punk, it was clear that he was booked perfectly in this match as he got some good shine, got an elimination and survived the match. Some would say if the show wasn’t in Philly he wouldn’t have survived, but I disagree as Punk was insanely over wherever they were. The crowd was red hot for the whole match and popped for Team DX when they won. Team DX get the win over Team Rated-RKO in a shutout and all 10 men move on as DX and Rated-RKO continue their feud while the Hardys wait to see who they will face next, and Punk looks ahead to the Extreme Elimination Chamber.
Final Grade: ***1/2