Monday, 23 November 2015

PPV Review: WWE Survivor Series 2015

4 weeks after Brock Lesnar went over The Undertaker at Hell in a Cell, it was time for the 29th addition of Survivor Series! After a tumultuous build-up that saw Seth Rollins have to surrender the WWE World Heavyweight Championships two weeks into the build for a match between he and Roman Reigns, this show featured the final three matches of a tournament to crown a new champion with Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, Alberto Del Rio and Kevin Owens battling for the belt across the show. With The Undertaker appearing alongside Kane to take on The Wyatt Family to celebrate his 25th year in the business, this show had to be great....didn't it?

Fast-Forward...Lilian Garcia sang the Star Spangled Banner, which apparently no one else sings along to...The opening package focused on The Undertaker's 25 year anniversary and upcoming tag bout with Kane against the Wyatt Family, as well as the WWE World Heavyweight Championship tournament involving Roman Reigns, Alberto Del Rio, Kevin Owens & Dean Ambrose, before closing with a nice twist on a clich├ęd saying “History is written by the Survivors”...During the entrances for the first match of the evening, Michael Cole made it absolutely clear that the whole WWE World Heavyweight Championship tournament was about Roman Reigns, by only talking about Reigns' story heading into the show...

Match 1 - WWE World Heavyweight Championship Semi-Final Tournament - Roman Reigns vs.United States Champion Alberto Del Rio with Zeb Colter

A strong opener between the two least popular remaining members of the tournament (Well least popular amongst the "cool" fans anyway). Whilst some of Reigns early offence was a little sloppy, the pair strung together some enjoyably slick sequences, with a simple and effective story. It was clear that Reigns was being put over as the stronger and more capable performer inside the ring, with Del Rio having to go to the outside to gain the upperhand, sending the Juggernaut into the ringpost, barricade and steel steps at various points. We also got the United States Champion working Reigns shoulder, riffing off the Reigns previous victory over Cesaro on Monday Night RAW. Reigns selling was good and we did get a superb submission sequence with Del Rio locking on the Cross Armbreaker, but I felt at time that opportunities to continue the work weren't taken, such as when "Mexico's Greatest Export" pulled Reigns throat across the top ring rope, when an attack to the arm would have made much more sense. There was clearly only ever going to one winner here, but the lively crowd made the near falls much more exciting. A much better outing for Del Rio than his bout with John Cena at Hell in a Cell and a contender for the match of the evening for me.

Winner - Roman Reigns via pinfall (Spear) in 14 minutes, 4 seconds

Fast-Forward...As Reigns celebrated his victory, Michael Cole continued his obsession with tournament brackets, how he'll cope when the tournament is over is yet to be seen...Whilst Jo Jo stood awkwardly about the backstage area with a microphone, Roman Reigns was interrupted by both Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens, with the Intercontinental Champion putting in the strongest showing on the microphone ...We didn't have to wait long for more Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens as the pair made their way to the ring for the 2nd Semi-Final in the title tournament...

Match 2 - WWE World Heavyweight Championship Semi-Final Tournament - Dean Ambrose vs. Intercontinental Champion Kevin Owens

The quality of action didn't drop for the 2nd bout of the evening, and whilst Ambrose and Owens didn't quite connect as well as many would have hoped for, they still put on a sound physical encounter. In comparison to the opener, the crowd were pretty subdued in the opening stages, perhaps because Owens and Ambrose are favourites amongst the livelier fans, therefore I was very impressed with the Intercontinental Champion who managed to bring the crowd onside with a couple of adlibed lines, that whilst they weren't particularly creative ("And that's why I'm the next champ") pulled the crowd into the action and allowed for a much more enjoyable second half of the bout. After a handful of exciting near falls, like Owens Fisherman's Buster off the top rope, Ambrose escaping two Pop-Up Powerbombs to hit Dirty Deeds 2 was a skillfully frenetic finish. The IC Champ being kept strong by clearly having the match won if he'd have hit his Pop-Up Powerbomb made me happy and the potential for a rematch over the belt with some added toys at TLC in three weeks is a mouth-watering prospect.

Winner - Dean Ambrose via pinfall (Dirty Deeds 2) in 11 minutes, 18 seconds

Fast-Forward...With Ambrose being afforded plenty of time to celebrate, Michael Cole was busy putting over the main event bout with Reigns, just in case anyone was thinking of changing the channel on PPV...A well-produced vignette on The Undertaker interspersed with clips from WWE Network show, Legends with JBL, airing reminded us once again that this was the 25 year of Taker in the biz, if it was anyone else it might have been a little bit of over-kill...

With a Survivor Series match advertised but no competitors announced it was a rather weird experience as Ryback, The Lucha Dragons, The Usos, The New Day, King Barrett and Sheamus headed down to the ring. TEN SURPRISE COMPETITORS! Of course, the New Day were given time on the microphone and with Barrett and Sheamus at their side, the trio were on fine form. Sleekly flicking between the various sports teams of Atlanta and their opponent, the trio got the crowd chanting "New Day Sucks" with ease. Barrett looked to be having absolute ball beside them, but I'm not sure why WWE opted to make Sheamus the butt of the joke with his awkward "Tonight we're going to get jiggy on these posers" line.

Match 3 - Traditional Survivor Series Tag Team Elimination - Ryback,  The Lucha Dragons (Kalisto & Sin Cara) & The Usos (Jimmy Uso & Jey Uso) vs. "Mr. Money in the Bank” Sheamus, “The 2015 King of the Ring” King Barrett & The New Day (Xavier Woods, Big E & Kofi Kingston)

The only Survivor Series bout on this year's main card, this wasn't a classic. That isn't to say it wasn't without it's moment, with the quad dive by The Usos and The Lucha Dragons and the extended Unicorn Stampede standing out as highlights of the earlier chunk of the bout. Whilst the eliminations of the contest were booked well (especially the first few) and kept a nice pace once they started to flow, the crowd had very little reason to care about this. They weren't into anything the babyfaces, and especially The Usos were doing and with Jey spending a lot of time as the Usos in peril, it was disappointing to see his hot tag to brother Jimmy get absolutely no reaction. But the effort just wasn't there to deserve.

I didn't like the booking for the finish however, as for me it went WAY too long. The New Day leaving after Big E was eliminated (to help him to the back) was a nice idea, but poorly executed with no announcement that they had been counted out made and the commentary team hinting that they would be back out. Having Sheamus as the only member of his team left opposite Jey Uso, Kalisto and Ryback was a strange decision and could have worked with we'd had seen Sheamus get quickly taken down after the distraction of New Day leaving but it just dragged on and on, without ever seemingly having anything but one outcome. No one gained anything from this, despite it being the longest contest of the evening.

Jey Uso, Kalisto & Ryback in 17 minutes, 33 seconds

Order of Elimination

King Barrett via pinfall (Sin Cara after Springboard Senton) in 7 minutes, 47 seconds
Jimmy Uso via pinfall (Xavier Woods after Double Stompp/Backbreaker Combo) in 9 minutes, 22 seconds
Sin Cara via pinfall (Sheamus after Brogue Kick) in 10 minutes, 43 seconds
Big E via pinfall (Jey Uso after Superfly Splash) in 11 minutes, 30 seconds
Sheamus via pinfall (Ryback after Shellshocked) in 17 minutes something

Fast-Forward...The promo package for the Divas Championship bout interestingly decided to omit Paige's comments about Reid Flair on last week's Monday Night RAW...Whilst the commentary team did allude to the controversial comments during the entrances of the pair, it was only mentioned how personal the feud had become, without the specifics...

Match 4 - Diva's Championship - Paige vs. Charlotte ©

The bout played out like a grudge match in the ring, but you wouldn't have thought it from the crowd, who decided pretty early on that they couldn't give a fuck about this. I thought the action here was of a high quality with both women throwing heavy strikes and taking some punishment on the outside, with Charlotte's Electric Chair drop onto the apron standing out. The only stuff that got the crowd anywhere near interested was anything involving Ric Flair, which has to be down to the way WWE has portrayed the Divas' Champion since her main roster debut. She may as well be announced as "Ric Flair's daughter" for all it's worth. Whilst the effort was put into the action, neither girl tried to get the crowd involved, beyond Paige's couple of "Woo's", even when given the opportunity to reply to the growing "We Want Sasha" chants. I enjoyed what I saw, but the fact that the crowd was silent throughout is something that needs to be addressed quickly. Hopefully that addressing isn't reverting back to the previous Divas style of the last five years.

Charlotte via Submission (Figure 8) in 14 minutes, 15 seconds *STILL CHAMPION*

Fast-Forward...The Kick-Off Panel (Renee Young, Byron Saxton, Booker T & Corey Graves) chatted about Charlotte vs. Paige a bit before, previewing the main event...Roman Reigns returned the favour to Dean Ambrose by interrupting his former Shield stablemate during an interview with Jo-Jo, which was oddly given a "Earlier Tonight" caption...Tyler Breeze's main roster debut was shown during the entrances for his match with Dolph Ziggler...

Match 5 - Singles - Tyler Breeze with Summer Rae vs. Dolph Ziggler

A decent bit of filler, but filler non the less. The feud got lost in the mix of the World Heavyweight Championship tournament, despite it being a real opportunity to intensify the feud and therefore the crowd couldn't have given a knat testes about what was going on. There was plenty of solid action, including a satisfying back and forth pinfall section, but there was just that little spark missing that could have made this a stand out match. Breeze picking up the clean win with Christian's old finish was a surprise as I expected to see him cheat to win, especially after Prince Pretty used a couple of heel antics to get the upperhand earlier on. It'll be interesting to see where Breeze springboards to from here, but isn't it sad to see how WWE wasted Ziggler's tremendous performance at last year's event, in what should have been the breakout moment for the Show-Off.

Tyler Breeze via pinfall (Unprettier) in 6 minutes, 43 seconds

Fast-Forward...More Undertaker fan-fare, as the package for The Brothers of Destructions clash with The Wyatt Family was up next...

The Undertaker's entrance was quite something, wasn't it? Especially for a show like Survivor Series, if it was Mania it wouldn't have been as big of a deal, but there was his funky logo on fire and other things on fire and lots of fire. Plus a sweet coffin screen situation that showed The Undertaker's past selves, well not past selves obviously it's the same bloke, but you get what I mean. Erick Rowan reminded us all that he's the member of the Family that we couldn't give a flying fuck about, when he ran into the ring and the WWE Universe let out a collective sigh, believing he'd be one of the two to take on B.O.D! Then the sigh of disappointment was replaced by one of relief as Rowan got double chokeslammed to fuck and Luke Harper and Bray Wyatt stepped up to the plate.

Match 6 - Tag Team - The Wyatt Family (Luke Harper & Bray Wyatt) with Braun Strowman & Erick Rowan vs.The Brothers of Destruction (Kane & The Undertaker)

This contest was a fun watch, with The Undertaker running through his greatest hits and Kane coming along for the ride. Playing to the strengths of everyone involved and with a crowd that was into everything that went on, this was one of the easiest watches of the show. Whilst I'd have liked to have seen Kane worked the "Demon in Peril" role just a little bit longer than he did, to really milk the moment for 'Takers hot tag, the rest of the booking was spot on, with Strowman allowing the Wyatts to take control twice in the bout, as well as taking a Double Chokeslam through the Spanish announce table. The finish was excitingly paced, and whilst if you didn't see The Brothers of Destruction double sit up coming you'd probably never seen wrestling ever before, it was still a pretty damn cool moment. Many will focus on The Brothers going over Wyatt (and Wyatt losing yet another marque feud), but I had a great time watching and that's all I care about right now. 

Winners - The Brothers of Destruction via pinfall (Undertaker on Harper (Tombstone Piledriver) in 10 minutes, 18 seconds

Fast-Forward...The Brothers of Destruction doing their classic hand raise pose on the entrance ramp capped off the nostalgia trip...A promo for upcoming WWE Network shows offering the likes of the TLC PPV, pre-recorded Stone Cold Podcast's with Shawn Michaels & Ric Flair, a new reality show Ride Along, new episodes Breaking Ground & Edge & Christian's Show That Totally Reeks of Awesomeness showed WWE's continued commitment to produce fresh content for their channel...It was main event time, we'd see a new WWE World Heavyweight Champion, there was definitely a big fight feel heading in...

Match 7 - Finals of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship Tournament - Roman Reigns vs. Dean Ambrose

This is a difficult one to review for me, because I thought the action we were given was of a high quality, but we just didn't get enough of it. Cutting the match to just over 9 minutes was a ridiculous decision, quite simple. Just as things were getting going and beginning to look like we could be breaking into something really quite special, between two men with chemistry and heaps and heaps of back-story to play off, Reigns hit his second spear and won the title. It didn't feel like it should have, I didn't feel like I'd just watched the main event and final match of a sixteen man tournament, I felt like I'd watched a great main event for Monday Night RAW. For what they did do, all credit to Reigns and Ambrose as both brought great energy, paced the contest as well as they could have and sold the heavy hitting nature of the contest to a tee. Give me ten more minutes and more exploration of Reigns' arm injury and I'd have been very happy.

Roman Reigns via pinfall (Spear) in 9 minutes, 1 second *NEW CHAMPION*

Fast-Forward...It all went on in the next four minutes, Reigns and Ambrose shared a brotherly moment, Reigns refused to shake Triple H's hand and speared him out of his boot, before taking a Brogue Kick from Money in the Bank Contract holder Sheamus and we quickly had another title match on our hands...Sheamus only went and won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, connecting with his second Brogue Kick after dodging a spear attempt by the Juggernaut...

Wow, that was an interesting finish, tying into what was an intriguing night of booking for WWE. It was however clear that Sheamus, despite winning the World Heavyweight Championship was not the star here, as we closed with pictures of Roman Reigns leaving the ring. Yes, we did see Sheamus standing on the ramp with Triple H and the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, but I'm not expecting him to be holding onto that belt for long. He's another road block for Reigns to get to on his chase for the title (that now he's already actually held) and a rushed replacement for Seth Rollins within the Authority. There's a couple of avenues to explore over the next three weeks heading toward TLC, like Sheamus' relationship with King Barrett, the repercussions of The New Day leaving Sheamus to the wolves in their Survivor Series bout, Ryback getting the pin on the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion and of course, the small matter of a rematch for Roman Reigns sooner rather than later. 


ATPW Scale Rating - 5.97 - Average/Good

Whilst the show came just shy of recent outings like Hell in a Cell, Night of Champions and SummerSlam on the ATPW Scale and had a number of issues throughout the card, this was still a pretty easy watch for me. The WWE World Heavyweight Championship tournament offered some good quality outings, with the opening Semi-Final contest between Roman Reigns and Alberto Del Rio being the best of the bunch for me, even if I'd mark the Brothers of Destruction and Wyatt Family contest as my favourite of the evening.

Some bouts suffered from either a lack of build or an uninterested crowd or a mixture of the two. There was potential for this to be one of the best PPV's of the year, if Charlotte and Paige could have garnered some crowd involved in their Diva's Championship encounter and if the Survivor Series Elimination match hadn't been thrown together and booked in such a haphazard fashion. The Elimination match going over 15 minutes also meant that it had a big effect on the rating for the entire show. There was however nothing on this card that I would pronounce as being outright bad.

Here's hoping WWE builds on the positives of this show and quickly addressed the weaknesses, with the 2016 WrestleMania season quickly approaching.

Second Opinion...

Here's our buddy Marc Pearson's Youtube review of the show.

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