When one thinks of Survivor Series, most fans automatically go misty-eyed and think nostalgic thoughts of 5-on-5 Elimination Tag Matches before moaning about how the current PPV just isn’t the same.
Now, granted, the original concept of the event was that the entire card was comprised of Elimination Tag Matches, but that stopped in 1991 when Undertaker faced, and defeated, Hulk Hogan for the WWF Championship. This was only the fourth ever Survivor Series, so the lack of tag-team matches started then, meaning it’s not a “current era” issue at all.
Looking back, between the 1991 and 2000 events, only one card was headlined by a traditional encounter; the 1993 edition. After Lex Luger’s “All-Americans” lost to Yokozuna’s “Foreign Fanatics”, we wouldn’t see another elimination match close the show until 2001. In fact, the next six Survivor Series PPVs all featured Elimination Matches (granted, 2002 was the first Elimination Chamber, but it was still in the traditional “survivor” mentality) in main-event level positions.
Looking back on things, I feel it actually improves the event by having only two or three of these matches on the card as they feel more special when they happen and happen for a reason. In 2001, it was to bring about the end of the Invasion angle, while in 2003 it was the ridiculously epic Team Austin v Team Bischoff which, in my opinion, could be the best ever Elimination Tag Match in SS history.
On the same card, the young(ish) Team Angle had a great contest against the monstrous Team Lesnar (the largest team ever assembled; A-Train, Big Show, Brock Lesnar, Nathan Jones and Matt Morgan – you know a team is large when Brock is the smallest guy on it) and in 2005 we were treated to the zenith of the Smackdown v RAW brand split as the opposing Reds and Blues actually made the split seem legit. Having the commentary teams rally behind their own troops also added to the occasion. In more recent times, the Traditional Match has been used to elevate newcomers, with 2009’s event elevating Sheamus and Drew McIntyre as they survived the opener alongside their captain as part of Team Miz.
All of this leads us directly to the 2011 edition of the second-longest running PPV on the WWE calendar. Who would step out of the shadows and announce themselves to the world? Who would walk out of Madison Square Garden as champions? Who would steal the show?
And most importantly of all…
WHO WILL SURVIVE?
Running Time: 171mins (excluding extras)
- United States Championship Match: Dolph Ziggler v John Morrison
- Lumberjill Match for the Divas Championship: Beth Phoenix v Eve
- David Otunga has a message for CM Punk
- The Rock returns to Madison Square Garden
- Traditional Survivor Series 10-Man Tag Team Match: Team Orton (Randy Orton, Sheamus, Mason Ryan, Kofi Kingston & Sin Cara) v Team Barrett (Wade Barrett, Cody Rhodes, Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger & Hunico)
- John Laurinaitis has a word with Alberto Del Rio
- World Heavyweight Championship Match: Mark Henry v Big Show
- Matt Striker interviews Wade Barrett
- WWE Championship Match: Alberto Del Rio v CM Punk
- Never Before…Never Again: The Rock & John Cena v The Miz & R-Truth
- Home Video Exclusive: Matt Striker interviews CM Punk – Survivor Series (20th November, 2011)
The 2011 Survivor Series begins and we find ourselves in the WWE’s spiritual home of MSG… and before the opening bell, disappointment has set in as the unique setting of The Garden is no longer evident. For those of you who know what I’m talking about, you’ll understand my pain, but for those who don’t, it’s basically that for the longest time, whenever WWE did a televised show in Madison Square Garden, the entrance was always opposite the hard-cam.
Now, for some, that could be seen as a trivial thing, but it gave the MSG shows a unique feel, a unique aesthetic which made them stand out. This time out, the set was your usual “entrance off to the left” gizmo and while it was very pretty, it wasn’t MSG pretty… so this reviewer is already in a huff.
Thankfully, the first match soon banished my blues as my pick for THE break-our star of 2012, the irrepressible Dolph Ziggler (opening the show for the second PPV in a row) defended his US Championship against another guy who when he brings it, can be sensational to watch; John Morrison.Both men are young and incredibly athletic, with great moves and near falls aplenty being the makings of a great opener that was soundtracked by a very vocal “WE WANT RYDER” chant from the New York faithful.
Eventually, the blonde show-off (who not only moves very well inside the ring, he has mastered the art of when not to do something to if this outing is anything to go by – his interaction with the fans alone makes him stand out from his mid-card peers) managed to outfox his ab-tastic opponent… only for the place to go bananas (thanks, Gorilla) as Zack Ryder sprints down the aisle, hits the Rough Ryder and enjoys a fist-pump with his broskis and broskettes in the stands.
Following that would be a difficult proposition for anyone (as Dolph himself actually said on the show), but fair play to the ladies for trying during the Eve / Beth Phoenix Lumberjill Match. The women around the ring didn’t really do anything of note, but the two Divas between the ropes made the most of their 5mins in the spotlight, capped off with a rather stunning Top-Rope Glam Slam to Eve.
Next up was the Traditional Elimination Match of the card as Team Barrett (Wade Barrett, Cody Rhodes, Hunico, Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler) faced off against Team Orton (Randy Orton, Sheamus, Sin Cara, Mason Ryan and Kofi Kingston). Barrett had been on a roll as of late (“The Barrett Barrage”) and had been a building feud with Orton. At the same time, Ziggler and Swagger had issues with Kofi Kingston and Evan Bourne, Sin Cara had unmasked Hunico as Sin Cara Negro, leaving Cody Rhodes and Mason Ryan as the odd couple of the two teams.
Ziggler, who was pulling double-duty due to an injury to Christian, was swiftly eliminated by Randy Orton (which didn’t harm his push as he’d already won a hard-fought match earlier in the evening, so had a ready-made excuse to hand), but the match briefly fell apart when Sin Care severed his patella tendon just as he was about to perform running flip to the floor. He awkwardly fell over the ropes and genuinely hasn’t been seen or been mentioned on WWE since.
As I said, the match briefly crumbled as the remaining nine guys (including the ref) tried to get back on track. You have to imagine Sin Cara and Hunico had some stuff planned, so with the Latino’s opponent being taken out early, he pretty much became redundant for the remainder of the contest. Once the match restarted though, things picked up and it became a very enjoyable 20min+ outing for all involved… with the exception of Mason Ryan.
The crowd really didn’t like Ryan, so he was booed from the moment he came until the moment he was elimination. A blind tag from Cody Rhodes was met with huge cheers from the fans. The cheered again when Rhodes landed a BD kick and then finished the massive Welshman off with Cross Rhodes. Despite being one of the main heels on the team, the NY crowd roared a “Cody” chant to firmly let Vinnie Mac know that they weren’t accepting another muscle-bound stiff shoved down their throats.
Now, personally, that’s unfair to Barri Griffiths as he’s a genuinely nice guy and is fully aware he needs to continue to develop as a performer, so while I understand the booing, I hope it was plain to see that the booing was towards the “WWE way” rather than Mason Ryan himself.
Eventually, the match comes down to a 4-on-1 scenario as Orton is left with Jack Swagger, Hunico, Cody Rhodes and Wade Barrett; a reversal of 2003 when Orton, alongside Christian and Jericho, was left against HBK in a 3-on-1 situation. HBK couldn’t get the job done on that night (thanks to an interfering Batista, it has to be said), so could Orton succeed where Michaels failed?
After blasting Hunico with an RKO as the Mexican attempted a springboard attack, he was distracted by Cody Rhodes and after RKO-ing the “grandson of a plumber”, he was unprepared for Barrett to smash him with Wasteland and pick up the win. The Englishman, much like a Scotsman and an Irishman two years earlier, had used the Survivor Series to place himself on the map alongside the IC Champion, who has really come into his own the last few months.
Following on from the younger guys, it was the turn of two veterans to try and top their encounter from Vengeance when the ring collapsed as Big Show received another shot at Mark Henry’s World Heavyweight Championship. The question on the lips of fans around the world (if you believe Michael Cole… and why wouldn’t you?) was wether the ring would hold up this time out.
In a brilliant little show of subtle continuity, as the match was being discussed by the commentators, the ring crew were visibly strengthening the ring to make sure there’d be no repeat of the previous PPV’s implosion. Of course, if you applied logic, then you would assume the ring crew would’ve reinforced the ring prior to the show going on the air so as not to delay anything… but logic and pro-wrestling can’t always go together, so we can let this one slide.
Unfortunately for the two men, the match didn’t live up to their previous battles, not helped by a lame finish. The action was good and Show’s top-rope elbow to Henry was a genuinely amazing sight to see, but the poor DQ and the overall feel of the match had “continuing the feud” written all over it. Subsequently, you never actually felt that Mark Henry was in danger of losing his title.
The same could not be said for the fourth title bout of the evening as everyone and their dog knew CM Punk would be leaving MSG with the belt around his waist. The only question was how long it would take and how good would Alberto look in defeat.
The answer to question one was just over 17mins and the answer to question two was very good. There were some not-as-crisp-as-they-could-be exchanges, but both guys really put their all into leaving an impression on the NYC crowd. Of course, this being a smark town, CM Punk was over like rover from the second he appeared after being announced by The Fink in response to Ricardo Rodriguez. Howard took too long though and Punk did seem to be visibly annoyed at the delay. Having Finkel there was made worth it though when he announced the NEW WWE Champion as only he could.
“FINALLY… THE ROCK HAS COME BACK TO NEW! YORK! CITAY!”
To close the show, it’s the match that was billed as “Never Before, Never Again”, although the second part might be harder to keep to than the former if Rock sticks around after April 1st.
Miz & Truth, in the build to the show, had been made to look ineffectual against Cena on his own, so there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that this was going to be anything other than a win for team “WrestleMania Main-Event”. However, if you’d not seen the shows leading into Survivor Series, the WWE production team would’ve made you a believer with another sterling piece of video work.
Cena was booed out of the building and then spent the majority of the match on defence to help sell the super-hot tag to the person the people had come to see. Before that tag however, The Awesome Truth looked great on offence and cut the ring in half beautifully as any great team should do.
Of course, with Rock not really having been in the match save for a brief flurry at the start, the fans knew the match wasn’t going to end with any of the many pinfall attempts made by Miz or R. Inevitably, the hot-tag came, Rock cleaned house, applied the shittest Sharpshooter in wrestling history (Kris Sprules could probably do it better) before landing a spinebuster-People’s Elbow combo to Miz for the win. A post-match “cheer off” between the winners provided no surprises in relation to who the fans were behind and a sneaky Rock Bottom to Cena sealed the deal.
The crowd went home happy, Rock showed he’s “still got it” and the WrestleMania headliner built some steam as we closed in on WrestleMania season.
What more could you want?
IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT YOU WANT!!!
A single interview with the new WWE Champion is all you get.
WWE had a great 2011 on PPV and this continued the run of hits for the fans to sink their teeth into.
None of the matches were worse than good, with Punk/Alberto and Ziggler/Morrison stealing the in-ring honours from the main-event, although the star-power was firmly in the camp of Rock/Cena as was to be expected.
The one thing I did take away from The Rock’s outing is that Cena gets totally slammed for his weak application of the STF (and a lot of the time it is justified, although he has locked it in tight on occasion, which makes you wonder if he’s been told to apply it loose), yet Rock has the sloppiest Sharpshooter going and gets away with it because he’s The Rock.
I recommend this to join the collection of 2011 PPVs I’ve recommended to you so far (and yes, TLC 2011 will join them) and hope WWE can keep it going through 2012.
Also, if you buy the Blu-Ray edition, you get the following from the preceding week’s TV shows -:
Monday Night Raw (14th November, 2011)
- The Michael Cole Challenge
- This Is Your Life John Cena
- The Rock rocks Raw
SmackDown (18th November, 2011)
- Mark Henry Promises Pain
- Big Show’s Weapon of Mass Destruction
- Randy Orton & Sheamus v Wade Barrett & Cody Rhodes