Survivor Series thoughts
While Sunday night’s Survivor Series pay-per-view – which I watched live at Verizon Center in Washington – may not have been spectacular, almost all of the matches were entertaining and the booking was sound for the most part.
In my opinion, what didn’t happen on the show was as significant – in a positive way – as anything that did. I’m talking about the fact that neither the WWE title nor the world heavyweight title changed hands. That ended a streak of five consecutive WWE pay-per-views in which there was at least one world title change.
Being a fan of both Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho, it would have been nice to see them win their respective triple threat title matches, but it would have been the wrong call. The belts have switched hands so frequently as of late that the changes don’t have as much impact as they should, so successful title defenses by WWE champion John Cena and world heavyweight champion The Undertaker made the most sense from a booking standpoint.
The other noteworthy development on the show was that Kofi Kingston was put over strong and appears to be on the verge of breaking into the top tier. Three other young guys that seem to be on the fast-track to becoming break-out stars – Sheamus, Drew McIntyre and The Miz – also were booked to look good. So while we did see six veteran stars competing in the two main events, it looks as if WWE recognizes the need to get some new faces in the mix.
Here is a match-by-match look at the show:
WWE champion John Cena defeated Triple H and Shawn Michaels in a triple threat match: It literally took just one second for the surprisingly weak buildup for this match to become a non-issue. Immediately after the bell rang, Michaels delivered Sweet Chin Music to fellow DX member Triple H, who was knocked out of the ring by the blow. The shocked crowd popped as Michaels stood there with his game-face on and Cena sold disbelief. The message was clear: Despite all the silly skits with Hornswoggle – who thankfully was nowhere to be found –and the fact that DX came out together rather than making separate entrances, Michaels and Triple H were going to be opponents not partners in this match. For the next 21 minutes, the three superstars put on the most entertaining match on the show. Michaels and Triple H aggressively went after each other, but at no point did it appear that there was major dissension. There was a great spot toward the latter part of the match when Michaels hit Cena with a super-kick and then nailed Triple H with one. A dazed Triple H landed right on top of Cena for a near fall that had a lot of people convinced that it was the finish. A couple minutes later, Michaels and Cena simultaneously covered Triple H for a two-count. The finishing sequence began with Michaels super-kicking Triple H as Triple H was setting up Cena for a Pedigree. Cena then gave Michaels an Attitude Adjustment onto Triple H and covered “The Game” for the victory. Triple H and Michaels hugged after the match, although I think the show was off the air at that point. There was a big sign in the crowd that said “HHH vs. HBK WrestleMania 26” that Triple H pointed out to Michaels. Hmm.
World heavyweight champion The Undertaker defeated The Big Show and Chris Jericho in a triple threat match: This one was pretty much by the numbers. There was nothing wrong with the match itself, but the fact that few people believed that Undertaker would lose the title made for a lack of drama. Undertaker won via tap-out when he reversed Big Show’s attempted chokeslam into Hell’s Gate.
Batista defeated Rey Mysterio: A lot of people in attendance must not have gotten the memo about Batista turning heel, because he got a huge pop when he came out. Perhaps the reaction can be partly attributed to the fact that the show was in Batista’s hometown, but I think it’s more than that. Not only was Batista cheered, but Mysterio was heavily booed (especially when he imitated the late Eddie Guerrero’s mannerisms), and the crowd was very into it when Batista destroyed Mysterio. Batista’s new remorseless, badass heel character is one that a lot of people are going to get behind. It’s not going to be easy to get people to boo him. Mysterio used his quickness early to gain the advantage and frustrate Batista, but once “The Animal” got a hold of him, the match basically became a squash. After Batista hit a powerbomb, the crowd chanted, “One more time!” Batista delivered two more powerbombs, and the crowd to give him a standing ovation after the third one. The referee stopped the match at that point and awarded it to Batista. After the match, Batista hit a spinebuster on a chair for good measure. Mysterio was taken out on a stretcher to a smattering of applause and boos. With Mysterio out of the picture for a while (he reportedly is about to undergo yet another knee surgery), it seems certain that a Batista-Undertaker title program is next.
Kofi Kingston, Christian, Mark Henry, MVP and R-Truth defeated Randy Orton, Ted DiBiase Jr., CM Punk, Wiliam Regal and Cody Rhodes: The main objective of this match – to make Kingston look like a star – was achieved. It came down to Kingston against Orton and Punk. Orton stood outside the ring watching intently as Kingston and Punk went at it. After several minutes of back-and-forth action, Orton distracted Kingston, and Punk tried to roll him up for the pin. Kingston, however, rolled though and pinned Punk. Orton then charged into the ring and was immediately hit with Kingston’s Trouble in Paradise and pinned at the 21-minute mark. So Kingston got a three-count two former world champions in a span of several seconds to become the sole survivor. You can’t ask for any more than that. I was surprised that DiBiase and Rhodes weren’t bigger factors in the match, especially DiBiase, who was eliminated after just five minutes. I’m starting to wonder if the reported plan to turn DiBiase babyface to coincide with the release of his movie, “The Marine 2,” and set him up for a high-profile program with Orton has been scrapped. Christian fared well in this match (and he also was the star of an entertaining backstage skit with his team members), as he pinned DiBiase and Rhodes and got a believable near fall on Orton before Orton eventually pinned him around 14 minutes into the match. As for Henry, remember about five months ago when he pinned then-WWE champion Orton on Raw and it seemed like the start of a big push? Well, Orton hit an RKO on Henry in the first minute here to eliminate him. So much for that.
The Miz, Drew McIntyre, Sheamus, Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler defeated John Morrison, Shelton Benjamin, Evan Bourne, Matt Hardy and Finlay: I think the right team won, but I didn’t care for how this match was booked. Ziggler shockingly lasted just three minutes and was the first person eliminated. Not only that, but he was pinned by jobber-to-the-star Bourne. That sure does send a message, and it’s not a good one for “Mr. Ziggles.” Morrison ended up being left at a three-on-one disadvantage against Miz, Sheamus and McIntyre. I thought for sure that Morrison would pin Miz to avenge his loss at the Bragging Rights pay-per-view last month, but then fall victim to Sheamus and McIntyre. Nope. Sheamus pinned Morrison clean and all three heels survived after approximately 21 minutes. It was nice that Morrison lasted to the end and fought valiantly against the odds, but I think it was a mistake not to have him take out at least one of the three remaining heels. McIntyre pinning Morrison would have been better because it would set up an Intercontinental title match between the two. Since Sheamus is on Raw, having him pin the I-C champ just doesn’t make any sense. I’m starting to resent the push that Sheamus is getting.
Mickie James, Eve, Kelly Kelly, Gail Kim and Melina defeated Michelle McCool, Alicia Fox, Jillian Hall, Layla and Beth Phoenix: It was ridiculous how rushed this was. There were eight pinfalls in a match that lasted all of 11 minutes. Then again, it was put on between the two world title matches, so it wasn’t meant to be anything more than an opportunity for a bathroom break. I went into this match thinking this just might be the night that Kim turns heel and gets a push. It turned out that she was the first person eliminated from her team, as McCool pinned her in the opening minutes. OK, I’m finally tapping out when it comes to thinking that Kim will amount to anything in WWE. Phoenix looked strong in eliminating Eve and Kelly Kelly before she was taken out by James. At the end it was James and Melina against McCool. Both babyfaces survived, as Melina scored the pin with the Last Call, which actually looked more like a basic sunset flip than a high-impact move.