As I noted would be the case yesterday, I did not get a chance to watch WWE Survivor Series until this morning because of the Baltimore Ravens/Pittsburgh Steelers game that was on at the same time. It took a lot of effort and willpower to avoid texts, tweets, e-mails and websites related to the pay-per-view so that I would be able to watch it without any knowledge of what had happened and, when it was all said and done, I am really glad I did. All I knew going in was that my friend Pete did not like the Divas match (he never does), thought the Big Show/Sheamus match had a good ending (I agree) and that the finish to the WWE Championship match was one of the worst things he’s ever seen (I couldn’t disagree more). Despite a very odd choice for the first match of the night, which resulted in me being thoroughly bored for the first 30 minutes of the PPV (literally 1/6 of it), the build from there was very quick and very good and ultimately led to what I thought was a great ending to the show.
WWE Survivor Series kicked off with a “bonus match,” a traditional Survivor Series elimination tag team match pitting the team of Rey Mysterio, Sin Cara, Justin Gabriel, Tyson Kidd & Brodus Clay against the team of Tensai, Darren Young, Titus O’Neil, Primo & Epico. While members of the opposing teams have ongoing feuds with each other (if you could call Tensai and Clay having a couple of matches against each other three months ago a feud), kicking off the show with a match that was thrown together at the last minute when the first match of the show is supposed to get the live crowd (and the audience at home) on their feet and excited for what’s to come was, in my opinion, a mistake. As I noted before, I was actually pretty bored by the match despite the high flying antics of eight of the ten Superstars involved and was upset when I realized that an entire half an hour of the show had been devoted to it between the entrances and the match itself. Regardless, the match saw the face team win as Tensai eliminated Clay first but then each member of the heel team was subsequently eliminated one right after the other to leave Gabriel, Kidd, Mysterio & Sin Cara as the sole survivors and winners of their team (poor Brodus Clay, can’t catch a break even when his team wins).
The second match of the night was the Divas Championship match between Kaitlyn and Eve Torres, and before the match Kaitlyn was once again attacked backstage by someone in a blonde wig. This time, however, Kaitlyn got the upper hand and revealed the attacker to be Aksana. As Aksana ran away, Eve came up and said that she hoped Kaitlyn was okay and that she had nothing to do with the attack, but Kaitlyn pushed her to the ground and headed to the ring. The match between the two Divas was, in my opinion, the best Divas match I’ve seen in a long time, and that is saying something because I think the last handful of Divas Championship matches I’ve seen have raised the bar from where the division was just a couple of years ago. Eve tried to steal the win on multiple occasions but Kaitlyn fought back and used her strength to hit a number of powerful moves on Eve, which caused Eve to beg her off and leave the ring. Kaitlyn went to follow her but Eve pushed her off the ring apron and then rolled her back into the ring where she hit a swinging neckbreaker for the pin and the win to retain her title.
Antiono Cesaro successfully defended the United States Championship R-Truth in quick match that would have been better served on Raw or Smackdown than a PPV, although I was happy to see the title recognized and defended on a PPV so I guess you can’t have your cake and eat it too. I like the previous Divas Championship match but for fans watching at home who did not, I imagine that at this point in the night (one hour into the show) a lot had to be questioning their decision to purchase the PPV.
Thankfully, things quickly picked up steam from there. AJ Lee came out to show some photoshopped pictures of Vickie Guerrero on “dates” with various Superstars, including eating a burrito with Ricardo Rodriguez and dancing in a bathing suit with Brodus Clay. Vickie came out to the ring to say that AJ was just trying to avoid the fact that she had been caught having an affair with John Cena and AJ retorted that Vickie was just making up rumors in order to get her job. The two went face-to-face and Vickie reminded AJ that if she laid a finger on her she would be fired, but AJ said that the same rule had been handed down on Vickie in terms of touching AJ. Suddenly, Tamina Snuka hit the ring out of nowhere and laid AJ out with a serious of vicious shots before hitting her with a Snuka Splash and leaving the ring. When I mentioned the resurgence of the Divas Division in my Survivor Series preview post, I forgot to mention Tamina as one of the Divas who were a part of it because, frankly, I completely forgot that she was still on the roster. But now I’m intrigued to see what the nature of the relationship between her and Vickie is, how it plays into the AJ/Cena storyline and where it all goes from here.
The World Heavyweight Championship match between Sheamus and Big Show was a rematch from Hell In A Cell, this time with Big Show coming in as the champion. The first match was certainly a hell of a battle (pun intended) so I had a feeling that this match would be as well. Sure enough, each man used their strength and size to throw the other man around and at one point it just became an all-out brawl (despite the match being fairly short). The match ended when Sheamus surprisingly deadlifted Big Show onto his back for White Noise and then went for the Brogue Kick, but Big Show moved a referee into the way so that Sheamus hit the referee instead. The ringside doctor, a number of other referees all attended to the referee on the mat while Big Show recovered, and when Sheamus turned around, he was greeted with a KO Punch from the champion. Big Show pinned Sheamus and one of the referees tending to the fallen referee counted the pin and awarded the victory to Big Show. As Big Show celebrated, another referee decided to change the decision and instead disqualify Big Show for putting a referee in harms way, which technically gave Sheamus the victory but kept Big Show as the champion. While Big Show complained, Sheamus recovered and grabbed a steel chair and proceeded to repeatedly hit Big Show with it on the back, arms and legs all the way up the entrance ramp. Big Show begged Sheamus to stop and so he threw the chair to the ground but then hit Big Show with a Brogue Kick for good measure. Since the next PPV is TLC (Tables, Ladders & Chairs) and each Superstar has a victory over the other, I assume the rubber match will be a Chairs Match for the title next month.
The Survivor Series Elimination Match between Team Foley (Randy Orton, Kane, Daniel Bryan, Kofi Kingston & The Miz) and Team Ziggler (Dolph Ziggler, Alberto Del Rio, Damien Sandow, Wade Barrett & David Otunga, who replaced the injured Cody Rhodes) took place next. I love traditional SSEMs and this match did not disappoint as it had all the making of a classic one – feuding Superstars on opposite teams, feuding Superstars on the same teams, nine eliminations and one sole survivor. Yesterday I predicted that either The Miz or Randy Orton would be the sole survivor and win the match for Team Foley, but I have never been more happy to have been wrong. First up was Kane eliminating Sandow, then Ziggler eliminating Kane, Bryan eliminating Otunga, Barrett eliminating Kingston, Del Rio eliminating Bryan (after Orton had to tag in Bryan instead of The Miz because The Miz refused the tag), The Miz finally getting into the match for the first time and eliminating Barrett and Del Rio eliminating The Miz. This left Orton as the sole remaining member of his team while Team Ziggler still had Ziggler and Del Rio.
At this point I assumed that Orton would make the comeback and win the match, as he had done as the part of Survivor Series team in previous years, but I was wrong. First, Orton did eliminate Del Rio after reversing an attempted Cross Armbreaker into an RKO for the pin, followed by a Hanging DDT from the middle rope onto Ziggler. Orton started to set up for the RKO but changed his mind and went to punt Ziggler in the head instead, but Ziggler quickly countered with a kick to the head and surprisingly pinned Orton to become the sole survivor of not only his team but both teams and win the match for his team! I’m thrilled at what seems to be a huge push towards the main event for Ziggler and assume it’s just a matter of time now before he cashes in the MITB briefcase and becomes a world champion.
The main event of the evening was the triple threat match between CM Punk, John Cena and Ryback for the WWE Championship. The big questions going into the match were what would happen if Cena and Ryback had to lock up (as they never had before), would Punk and Cena team up to take out Ryback and if/how Punk would win to kick of Monday Night Raw having held the title for exactly one year. Sure enough, Ryback and Cena did lock up and Ryback got the upper hand during most of their brief one-on-one encounters and Punk and Cena did team up to put Ryback through an announce table and temporarily remove him from the match. But it was how the match ended that was completely unpredictable and a total surprise. After Cena and Punk put Ryback through the table, the two Superstars went at it, with Cena kicking out of the GTS and Punk kicking out of the AA. Cena then puts Punk in an STF but just as Punk is about to kick out, Ryback recovers and pulls Cena out of the ring where he hits him with a clothesline. Ryback then gets back in the ring and hits Punk with a clothesline and the Shell Shock, but Cena breaks up the pin attempt. Cena tries to hit Ryback with the AA but Ryback counters and hits Cena with the Shell Shock, but just as Ryback is about to pin Cena for the win, three men in all black hit the ring and start attacking Ryback (keep in mind that there are no disqualifications in a triple threat match). The announcers soon revealed that the three men were Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins, all NXT competitors with Rollins actually being the NXT Champion. The three men pulled Ryback out of the ring and put him through the second announce table while in the ring Punk crawls over to Cena and pins him for the win to retain the WWE Championship.
So why did three NXT competitors interfere in the match and did Punk or Paul Heyman have anything to do with it? Hopefully we’ll find out tonight on Raw.
On a side note, I correctly predicted five of the six matches that had been announced in advance (including the pre-show match which saw Heath Slater & Jindar Mahal, aka 3MB, defeat Santino Marella & Zack Ryder).