The WWE celebrated the 27th edition of the Survivor Series in Boston last night, and well, at least nobody got screwed?
For those who missed the Hell in a Cell review, the criteria for these reviews is simple: “Did I get my money’s worth?” in terms of the individual matches and the PPV as a whole, using the tried and true “what was this trying to do, and how well did it succeed” test of “quality”.
Each match is rated plus or minus on a sliding scale between 1 and -1, with matches worth multiple rewatches being +1, a just-quite-PPV quality match +/- 0, and things that make me reevaluate being a fan earning up to a -1 score. The higher the number, the better Bang For Your Buck on the PPV. We’ll (eventually) keep a running tally for each PPV, and a handy list of PPVs we review to give you (and us) a better idea of what we thought was worth the time to check out in terms of matches and PPVs. As for the scale, it’s not particularly complicated but here are the basic levels (on a per-match basis):
As always, we’re going to be using what I said during the What’s the Worst That Could Happen preview to see how close I was to “predicting” what unfolded, and how it stacked up to my beliefs of what they were “trying” to do. Enjoy!
The Miz vs. Kofi Kingston (Kickoff Match)
Best Case Scenario: The inevitable “You Wanna Know Why?” promo is short, the match is long enough to make both guys not look like, well, themselves. Miz fakes an injury, then leaves for six months to go shoot the direct-to-video sequel to the ABC Family Original movie The Christmas Bounty.
Although this doesn’t count for the PPV’s overall Buck Bang (I guess?), I’d be remiss to not mention how very solid this match was. Both competitors looked, especially before the commercial break — yes, I know, but at least it was doing the free part — like the best possible version of himself. That they teased a Kofi heel turn was actually exciting, even if it didn’t make a ton of sense.
Rhodes Brothers, Usos and Rey vs. The Real Shield Americans in a Traditional 5-on-5 Survivor Series Match
What Nick Wants to Happen: A match half as good as the main event from this week’s Raw.
What Will Happen: The heels win, because of dissension from the face team. Rey Mysterio gets speared in half.
While dissension from the face team is always fun, I should have predicted “The heels win, because Roman Reigns” because “future megastar destroys entire group of people” is definitely better than the already super great “The Usos are feuding with the Rhodes boys”. This entire thing was beautiful, and while “the story” itself for the match wasn’t quite to the level of the main event from this week’s Raw, the execution of last night’s story — Roman Reigns is a grown ass man — was as close to perfect as possible. Everyone got a proper spotlight, and while Reigns finished the match (and maybe the night) looking like the best man, everyone looked good to great, and that’s all you can ask for from anything, and especially a match like this. That it was in-and-of-itself an insanely enjoyable a-move-a-minute-without-being-a-spot fest for a full 20 minutes before that almost seems unfair.
These are things that only the traditional Survivor Series matches can do, and why, for all the wandering away from the original conceit, they try to come back to it at least once every year and treat it like it’s one their most important shows.
Big E. Langston (C) vs. Curtis Axel for the Intercontinental Championship
Best Case Scenario: Curtis Axel actually looks like he deserved to be Intercontinental Champion for the past few months, but the rising star of Big E. burns just a little too brightly for Curtis to overcome. Also, Big E. makes the ref count to five. That would be awesome.
Although the crowd was the dribbling shits for this match, the performances were every bit as good as I had hoped. Big E. is a super duper star in the making, even if his post-match “I’m pandering to you” pander promo fell a little flat. Curtis Axel never really looked like he had a chance in this match, but he looked as good — if not better — than he looked the entire time he held the belt. Just being able to stay in the ring with someone like Big E. and not look like a scared little boy as 290 pounds flies all around the ring at you is an underrated skill, one that Curtis Axel did a yeoman’s job of projecting. That he got in most of his offense, and even a Perfectplex, means while they may not think he’s Intercontinental Title material, they definitely think he has a future. Not a masterpiece, but everything it needed to be and a little more.
Match +.4 | PPV 1.4
Total Divas vs. The Non-Total Divas in a “Traditional” 7-on-7 Survivor Series Match
What Nick Wants to Happen: Anything interesting at all the entire match.
This was not a “good” match, but it definitely wasn’t bad, and the “story” of the match was well told/mildly interesting. Which is nice. That they are turning Summer Rae into “girl who just dances”? Not so much. But pick your battles, and all that.
Match +/-0 | PPV 1.4
Ryback v. Mark Henry
My love for both of these performers is well-documented and knows no bounds. As Andy, who I watched the show with, put it: this works way better with Henry as the face. Now, Mark Henry could wrestle Khali and I think I would find it enjoyable, but him getting a solid 10-minute match with a guy that can do things like actually suplex him is pretty much what you want from a return match with him. This isn’t the type of match you show people who don’t like wrestling why it’s so awesome (see: the first match on the card), but as someone who paid for the PPV, it’s still nice to watch two guys Hoss it Out.
Match +.4 | PPV 1.8
John Cena (C) vs. Alberto del Rio for the World Heavyweight Championship
What Will Happen: Cena will overcome impossible odds and beat Alberto del Rio with one arm. The injured one.
There’s a difference between being “predictable” and “easy to predict”. The result of John Cena matches are “predictable”, in the sense that it’s almost always clear when he goes to lose a match, which is almost never. Given the binary option of “win” or “lose”, “predicting” what’s going to happen in a John Cena match is simple. Being “predictable” is fine: Batman and Superman are predictable. But, being “easy to predict” means “I know what’s going to happen in the match, and more importantly, at the end” and that’s where the problems happen. John Cena is a superhero and we should not expect him to shockingly lose, pretty much ever. Him winning the match after power bombing Albert del Rio with his bad arm is not something we should expect to see. When it happens, it should be magical and inspiring, not “oh, of course.” “Oh, of course” is kryptonite for performers on Cena’s level, and it’s something he’s done a very good job of staying away from since he feuded with Punk two years ago. And while this match was totally enjoyable, it had potential to be really great, and more importantly, much less easy to predict.
Match +.4 | PPV 2.2
CM Punk & Daniel Bryan vs. Luke Harper & Erick Rowan
What Nick Wants to Happen: The Beard and the Best to take an epic shitkicking, but like Bret Hart and Timex before them, manage to take a licking and keep on ticking.
What Will Happen: Probably something close to what I want to happen. I’m special and Vince McMahon loves me.
Like the 5-on-5 match, this was exactly what it needed to be, and maybe a little more. Erick Rowan, and especially Luke Harper, are special talents and this match was a showcase for that. All four men looked as good as was humanly possible and even the pre-match vignette/Bray Wyatt promo was the type of stuff that makes him one of the most talked about superstars in years despite wrestling only sporadically since his debut/injury. There are teams that can stay together forever, and while I would love to see Luke or Erick make it to the next level as a singles competitor, the Wyatt boys are definitely a pairing that I would not mind working together for a long long time. And while I’d prefer both of them to get back to singles competition as soon as possible, this detour through the swamp is exactly what they needed in order to refresh themselves for the ramp up to WrestleMania season.
Match +.7 | PPV 2.9
Randy Orton (C) vs. Big Show for the WWE Title
Best Case Scenario: Randy Orton pulls out all the sto(m)ps as he reverts completely back into his serial killer/Legacy period. Triple H doesn’t come down to ringside, and nobody cheats.
There’s definitely something to be said for what they are doing with Randy Orton right now that I actually like more than almost anything on the show right now: they are making him crazy. Some of it is subtle, like the incompetence of Brad Maddox, Vickie Guerrero and Kane getting Randy Orton into all different types of fights, and some of it is glaringly overt, like the constant challenges from H and Stephanie for Randy to pick his game up.
With the way this match was booked, and the way that Orton played it, they are really building up the “heavy is the head that wears the crown” aspect of his title reign, which is wonderful, at least in the sense that it gives him a purpose beyond “thing the Authority uses to shank you in the prison cafeteria”. It also creates tension between Triple H, Stephanie and all of the members of the administration, including the Shield. But it begs a serious question: Why?
Why aren’t they just having Randy Orton be Murder Death Killer? This isn’t a rhetorical question, either. If the goal of this match/end of PPV angle with Cena was to get us to ask confused questions AND make sure we tune into Raw tonight, they did a GREAT job. But, if the goal was to create excitement beyond confused curiosity? Not so much.
Your Mileage May Vary on the Divas match, but for the most part, this was a very good card that did a lot to move a number of story lines/characters forward, helped establish a few performers — — Big E. and the Wyatts — as formidable competitors, while planting the seeds for Roman Reigns to be made king of the world. If the main event finish didn’t feel so wonky, this could have been the best PPV we reviewed, but because of what could most generously described as an “meh” finish, it’s toward the back of the middle of the pack for the full card, even if it finds itself much closer to the top of what we’ve reviewed when it comes to a per match basis. While the matches on an individual level were all PPV-quality, considering the PPV ended essentially 20 minutes short makes me feel like — and I can’t believe I’m saying this — having the Miz vs. Kofi on the actual card would have made me feel like I’d paid for a steal of a card, as opposed to one I just simply wasn’t disappointed in.
PPV 3.5 | Match Avg. .5