The fate of the vacant WWE World Heavyweight Championship was finally decided at Survivor Series, when WWE brought one of their biggest pay-per-views to Atlanta, GA. Elsewhere, the Brothers of Destruction took on two members of The Wyatt Family and the Divas Championship was on the line. It’s your Survivor Series Recap…
1. Pre-Show – Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Match: Bo Dallas, The Miz and Cosmic Wasteland vs. Dudley Boyz, Neville, Titus O’Neil and Goldust
It’s remarkable that the match type that gives Survivor Series its name was relegated to the pre-show. The decision was even stranger given that the match marked the return of Goldust after several months on the shelf with injury. The Bizarre One exploded into the match early on, eliminating Viktor of The Ascension with a powerslam. Viktor’s partner, Konnor, followed soon after courtesy of a uranage from Bubba Ray Dudley. The babyfaces were on top for a long time, before Neville fell victim to a Running Bo Dog from Dallas and the Skull Crushing Finale from Miz for the elimination. Goldust capitalised on Miz’s gloating to immediately roll him up. Stardust continued to avoid his brother, whilst Titus O’Neil hit Clash of the Titus on Dallas, leaving the younger Rhodes brother all alone. A brief altercation at ringside with his brother knocked Stardust right into the path of the 3-D, ending the match with the babyfaces victorious.
This was a relatively decent elimination match, but one marred by some odd booking decisions. It was strange that there was never much of a face-off between the Rhodes brothers, and even weirder still that Neville was the lone babyface singled out for an elimination. The Man That Gravity Forgot deserves much more than what he got in this contest.
2. WWE Championship Tournament Semi Finals: Roman Reigns vs. Alberto Del Rio
This was a solid match between two top-tier performers that delivered between the ropes. It didn’t, however, deliver emotionally and felt distinctly lacking in any real drama. Reigns won the match with a huge spear after a string of nearfalls on both sides of the contest. It was good to see the return of Del Rio’s cross armbreaker finisher, which was always a brutal part of his offense. It’s a far more exciting move than the corner stomp he has been using in recent weeks and has the benefit of coming out of nowhere.
Backstage, Reigns was interviewed by JoJo. Dean Ambrose arrived and promised a fair fight for Reigns in the tournament final. When Ambrose left to prepare for his match, Kevin Owens turned up and suggested that the fairytale story might not play out in the way the two Shield boys wanted.
3. WWE Championship Tournament Semi Finals: Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens
This was more like it. Ambrose began the match working the more technical style he employed against Dolph Ziggler this week on Raw. Lunacy soon returned to proceedings, though, as Owens got on top of the match for an extended period, brutalising the unpredictable babyface. Ambrose fought back following an enormous rebound lariat and stunned Owens with a fast-paced comeback. A tremendous final sequence had Ambrose counter a Pop-up Powerbomb with a hurricanrana to set up Dirty Deeds for the pinfall win, teeing up the battle of brothers final that had been teased earlier. This was a stellar match between two men who clearly have great chemistry. The notion of this being a championship feud one day is truly mouth-watering.
4. Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Match: Ryback, Lucha Dragons and The Usos vs. New Day, King Barrett and Sheamus
More than anything, this seemed like a way to get New Day on the card and remind the audience that Sheamus and his Money in the Bank briefcase were still in play in terms of the title picture. The match kicked off in wild fashion, with a four-way tandem plancha to the outside initiating a melee that culminated in a rare Ryback suicide dive. King Barrett was the first to go down, following a springboard swanton from Sin Cara. An assisted double stomp from New Day soon evened the odds by eliminating Jimmy Uso. Big E flattened Sin Cara with a big spear, but Sheamus tagged himself in to eliminate the luchador, to Big E’s chagrin. It was E who was eliminated next, after a splash from Jey Uso. The other members of New Day, hilariously, opted to take their teammate to the back rather than continue the match. This left Sheamus to survive alone, which he couldn’t, going down to a gorgeous triple-team from the remaining babyfaces.
The logic of this match was off and the booking was truly bizarre. There was no reason for Sheamus to be cast in a quasi-babyface role against the odds and New Day were disposed of too quickly. The comedy beats and high-flying action were fun, but the booking left an awful lot to be desired.
5. Divas Championship: Charlotte (c) vs. Paige
The feud between Charlotte and Paige had been the subject of major controversy throughout the week as a result of a painfully misguided angle surrounding Charlotte’s late brother Reid on Raw. This fed into the match rather strangely, but gave Charlotte an aggression that she definitely needed. She was brutal towards Paige, adding extra torque to the Figure Four Leglock and violently dumping her challenger face first onto the apron. The issue was that the crowd never connected with the match as a result of the distinctly uneven build, which meant that it could never get to the next level. Charlotte retained with the Figure Eight, but this was a case of strong ring work being held back by erratic booking. Given all of the chaos around the WWE Title, it’s as if Creative forgot these two women were even feuding until Monday.
Logically, the next move is to incorporate the red hot heel Sasha Banks into the Divas Championship picture. A triple threat with Charlotte, Paige and Banks could be an excellent women’s match for the upcoming TLC show.
6. Tyler Breeze vs. Dolph Ziggler
Two of WWE’s most flamboyant performers squared off in this battle, which was a fast-paced showcase of both stars featuring several very nice sequences of pinning combinations. Yet again, though, this was a match that struggled to entice the Atlanta crowd and felt rather flat as a result. After both men managed to avoid each other’s attempts at superkicks, Breeze took advantage of referee positioning to nail Ziggler with the Unprettier in order to win his pay-per-view debut. It remains to be seen whether this feud will continue, but there’s definitely a better match in these two if WWE wants to give them the chance.
7. Brothers of Destruction vs. Wyatt Family (Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper)
This was essentially a house show match that ended up on the Survivor Series card solely as a showcase for Undertaker on his 25th wrestling anniversary. There was very little in the way of major offense from the Wyatt Family, with Erick Rowan dispatched with a double chokeslam before the match and Braun Strowman dumped through the Spanish announce table midway through the bout. After a brief period of rather flat action, a pair of chokeslams laid out both Wyatts before Taker finished off Harper with a Tombstone Piledriver. It remains to be seen what will happen with the Wyatt Family next, but as part of a farewell tour for Undertaker, this was a solid moment that it feels wrong to complain about too heavily.
8. WWE Championship Tournament Final: Roman Reigns vs. Dean Ambrose
The Shield brethren immediately went after each other as the bell rang, throwing punches like they were going out of fashion. They fought like gladiators going to battle after an enormous prize they both coveted, with both men pulling out their very best moves. Ambrose seemed to be on top, when Reigns popped up with a spear out of nowhere for a close nearfall. Reigns returned the favour moments later, getting his shoulder up at the last second after Dirty Deeds. The brothers in arms traded punches until, finally, Reigns landed another spear to pin Ambrose and win the title after a very strong main event match. Confetti showered down on Reigns as Ambrose fist bumped his friend in congratulatory fashion, leaving him to celebrate in the ring.
Triple H’s music hit and the boss made his way to the ring, congratulating Reigns. He offered a hand for Reigns to shake, but the new champion refused and speared The Game. He turned around right into a Brogue Kick from Sheamus, who cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase. Reigns kicked out of the first pinfall attempt but, after a second Brogue Kick, Reigns succumbed and Sheamus was left holding the belt. He aligned himself with Triple H as the new hand-picked champion. On the face of it, Sheamus as champion is perhaps the worst idea of all time. However, this could help to create sympathy for Reigns as his pursuit of the belt continues. In terms of wanting a heel to lose, Sheamus is as good a pick as any.
Survivor Series was a weird wrestling show. It wasn’t necessarily a bad pay-per-view, but there was something that felt off with many of the matches, as if there was a missing puzzle piece that could have tied the entire thing together. Finishes arrived out of nowhere and the crowd often seemed bored of what was occurring inside the ring. The climax of the show was deliberately unsatisfying and teased a potentially exciting anti-Authority storyline for Reigns, as well as the crowning of a genuinely hated heel as champion.
Tom Beasley – Follow me on Twitter for movies, wrestling and jokes about David Cameron.