Survivor Series 2014 provided an event filled with ups and downs, largely rescued from obscurity by two matches at either end of the night. It had a great deal of hype surrounding it, despite being another PPV not to feature a WWE Championship match or appearance of Brock Lesnar. But what it did feature was a moment of wrestling history, as Sting, the former WCW and TNA star, finally stepped into a WWE ring for the first time. What would the Stinger have planned, and how would he affect the biggest match of the night, as Team Cena took on Team Authority where the stakes couldn’t be higher. Vince McMahon had decided to put pressure on the Authority by putting their jobs on the line in this elimination match, and Triple H responded by stating every member of Team Cena’s side, with the exception of Cena, would be fired when they lost.
This hour-long spectacle of a match was supported by two title changes, the return of Fandango, somebody going through a table and some hot lesbian action. But, even with all this there were still some low points, dire attempts at humor and plenty for fans to lose interest in. And this is what this article looks to determine. So let’s get down to what Survivor Series made fans thankful for, and what segments were as sour as week-old cranberry sauce.
Whilst the Pre-Show cannot technically count on the list of matches due to their position below the main card, due to the few matches on the actual show they deserve some attention. Especially as the first match witnessed the long-anticipated return of Fandango. But, there’s more, as this was a new and improved Fandango, with new entrance music, valet and in-ring approach that will certainly return him to stardom in the mid-card. And that is the most amount of sarcasm I have ever used in a sentence. Seriously, although his match against Justin Gabriel was not terrible, it wasn’t going to excite anybody, and neither is his flamenco dancer shtick. This gimmick has clearly been developed to make him a more passionate and fiery competitor, leading to a more aggressive approach. But, the only thing going for the old Fandango was his catchy entrance music and arrogance, and with those gone, he will fall flat on his face.
The second match of the Pre-Show had a great deal more going for it, even if it would leave a number of pure wrestling fans disappointed at how far these two superstars have fallen. During his feud with Rusev, Jack Swagger was receiving the best reactions of his career as his Real American stance caught fire. He was having solid matches, taking on all comers with a new assertiveness. But, since losing to the Bulgarian he has been relegated to jobbing out to Seth Rollins and matches on Main Event. But that is nothing compared to the fate of Cesaro. The man that won the WrestleMania battle royal and has had two World title matches this year has been on a losing streak of epic proportions. In the past month he has fallen to Dolph Ziggler, Ryback and Erick Rowan, and after Sunday can add Jack Swagger to the list. In a good match that was hampered only by time constraints, the former tag team partners told a convincing story and showed a lot of intensity.
6) Divas Championship: AJ Lee vs. Nikki Bella
Now, a number of people will begrudge me placing this match at the bottom of the pile. In fact, the course of this likely had many a man standing to attention, and may have received more attention than any divas match in a while. Likely people watched this over and over again on a loop, and nobody was leaving for the bathroom. Well, not until afterwards at least. But, all joking aside, the ‘kiss seen round the world’ between AJ Lee and Brie Bella was one of the nights most shocking moments, and a unique way to distract the champion in the opening seconds. However, this cannot in good consciousness be considered a match seeing as how it consisted of a kiss, an elbow, the Rack Attack and a pin. Nikki Bella became Divas Champion through distraction and exploiting the employment of her sister, as expected, but it was not the match anybody would have expected and, in some cases, hoped for.
In all honesty, the kiss smacks as a mixture of fan service and shock culture designed to get people talking about the divas division at a time where they can’t do that in the ring. I really wanted to see what these two could have put on as a contest however, countering Nikki’s strength and showmanship with AJ’s speed and technique. Added in the presence of Brie outside the ring and what she would do to either help or hinder her sister and it was looking promising. It may not have ranked as a wrestling classic, but after Nikki featured on the upper portions of this list for the last two PPVs, so one could only hope for the same here. Instead, whilst a certain part of my anatomy is somewhat satisfied with the course this scene took, my brain cannot rightly expect wasting their talent on some vacuous HLA. Add to that the Bella Twins might now be working together again adds to the conclusion that if AJ were to leave as many have rumored, it will be a sad day for the future of the division.
5) Adam Rose & The Bunny vs. Slater Gator
In regards to matches that actually took place both on the main show and lasted over a minute, this ‘inter-species’ tag team match is at the bottom of the barrel. It flat out sucked, and frankly Brie Bella’s lip-lock looked more like wrestling than anything these four produced. I, like any wrestling fan that has half a working-brain and all their curly hairs developed, am sick and tired of the ‘comedy’ of Adam Rose and the Bunny. What started out as seemingly a quick heel turn for Adam Rose against his personal party animal has been dragged out for over a month with absolutely nothing great coming out of it. Listening to the commentary team practically wet their pants with laughter every time the Bunny does a dance in the ring, or humps something is becoming ridiculous. It’s not funny, interesting, entertaining or resembling anything that should be on a wrestling show with genuine athletes. It is segments like this one that make wrestling fan’s hang their heads whenever other people ask them why they like it.
Essentially, the match took the format of Adam Rose looking to take charge, and getting beaten down by Heath Slater and Titus O’Neil. He then makes the tag to the Bunny, who cleans house whilst hopping and dancing to the delight of everyone below the age of eight. A missile dropkick then floors Slater for a three count, leaving Rose stunned and still waiting for a tag, even when the Bunny is being hoisted by the Rosebuds and carried to the back in celebration. Yes, that all happened, and we have to swallow it due to some member of the creative team’s infantile sense of humor. I’d say that they were inviting children into the writing team to appeal to that market, but that would be offensive to the imagination of kids. The sooner this ridiculous story arc ends the better, probably in some brilliant “Carrot on a Pole” match at TLC.
4) Alicia Fox, Natalya, Naomi & Emma vs. Paige, Summer Rae, Layla & Cameron
Now onto something that can actually be considered real wrestling. Yet, this traditional elimination match likely carried the same degree of relevance to fans as the Bunny and his humping. It is a shame, but an accurate reflection of the state of the divas division outside of the championship picture nowadays. I mean, Paige dropped out to facilitate Nikki Bella’s title shot, and has lost most of her relevance in the process. The Brit was really the only competitor in this match that still elicits some form of reaction from the audience, whilst the rest are left to skulk in the shadow that she leaves. This match contained a number of rivalries; Paige against former bestie Alicia Fox, Natalya against her Total Diva enemy Summer Rae and pal Layla, the renewal of tension between Funkydactyls Naomi and Cameron. And Emma, who receives more cheers than all but Paige because she does a funny dance.
As for the match, it was unmemorable, and that is being kind. The crowd just weren’t into it, sucking away any atmosphere that it develop in the action between the ladies. Paige was her physical, dominant self, but is continuing to be off-putting with her constant screaming of ‘this is my house’. No matter how much she repeats it, it’s unlikely to ever come true. Especially when she’s surrounded by Summer Rae who is developing backwards, and Cameron who can’t do anything. The face divas had a lot more technical wrestling ability and experience on its side, but they did little to increase crowd participation. In the end, Naomi turned into an unlikely star, showing the extent of her considerable athleticism to eliminate both Cameron and the prized scalp of Paige. It was a clean sweep, in that all of Paige’s team fell by the wayside whilst the good girls all survived. That took away from the excitement, as I was hoping that even with Paige down 1 vs. 4 would have gotten a couple of elimination to keep her looking strong, but in the end this provided little to talk about or recall in the future.
3) Bray Wyatt vs. Dean Ambrose
One of the key feuds leading into Survivor Series, Dean Ambrose had been relentlessly pursuing Bray Wyatt with reckless abandon since the Cult Leader cost him his match at Hell in a Cell. Now without Luke Harper and Erick Rowan by his side, Wyatt has clearly looked to Ambrose as a potential recruit, and like Daniel Bryan is looking to beat him into submission. The Eater of World’s matches have since his debut been a mixed bag of results. Bouts against more polished, quicker opponents such as Bryan, John Cena and The Shield have led to classic encounters. But, against big men and in his most recent feud with Chris Jericho, the results have been clunky and underwhelming. Wyatt can talk the talk with the best of them, but his walk has shown why he often resides in a rocking chair. Ambrose on the other hand has made a reputation as a pure brawler that will take every risk imaginable, and as an innovator in his methods.
The match was a mixed bag of emotions. It began like a house on fire, with fists flying between the two aggressive young stars. One thing that they certainly need to be commended on is the consistent story and fighting style they employed. There was very little technical wrestling holds, focusing more on an old-school brawling methodology heavy on storytelling. It was at the same time refreshing and somewhat dull. The way Wyatt moves around the ring gives the impression of a veteran, and Ambrose’s attacks are rapid, but I get the impression that they would both be getting stronger reactions if they were fighting in the 1970’s and 80’s. Bull Dempsey in NXT has a similar approach, and rightly considers himself the ‘last of a dying breed’. Still, this was by no means an awful match, it just won’t live long in the memory. The excitement didn’t really kick up until after the match, where Ambrose assaulted Wyatt with a steel chair before dropping an elbow through him and a table. Clearly, this was a set-up for their future TLC match, and the addition of weapons could add a new compelling dimension to their rivalry.
2) Tag Team Championship: Gold/Stardust vs. The Usos vs. Los Matadores vs. The Miz & Damien Mizdow
The choice to start the main show with the Tag Team Championship match was a fantastic decision, as this multi-team affair was the ideal way to get the crowd hot for the rest of the show. Every combatant played their part, as they have done for the past two weeks. The tag team division has become a less focal component with Gold/Stardust as champions, mainly down to their poor booking and less high-profile matches. This was evident in this match, as despite the excellent wrestling that they were all putting on, only one person was in the minds and voices of the fans: Damien Mizdow. His outside antics as The Miz’s stunt double have made him a star in the eyes of the fans, showing you can have real comedy on show that doesn’t involve vomit, dwarfs or Bunny costumes, which must confound Vince McMahon. Throughout the match the crowd showed no tiring in chanting his name, desperate to see him in action.
Although the fans have taken Mizdow to their hearts, I also have to give a great deal of credit to the Miz. He is riding his stunt double’s popularity into becoming as big a heel as possible, refusing to give the people what they want, and only teasing tagging him in. His performance in this match was strong as well, as he continues to string together solid showings. The Usos were typically the explosive pairing brought in to bring the match to a thrilling climax, helped to a degree by Los Matadores. The problem with the matadors though is they are never going to be taken seriously with their gimmick and mascot. And the champions were also credits to the contest, Stardust getting deeply into his unstable character, and Goldust at 45 is still hitting heights that many other superstars can’t aspire too. The finish was worked perfectly, the Miz throwing Jimmy Uso out after he splashed Goldust, only for Mizdow to tag in for only the second time to claim the victory, even though he has yet to be allowed to touch the actual belts.
1) Team Cena vs. Team Authority
The main event truly carried the hopes and expectations of this entire PPV, and it largely succeeded in that regard and arguably went beyond the call of duty. Taking up one third of the entire show, it was the ideal means of closing the show, and turned a PPV that was forgettable into one that will be talked about for months to come due to the events of this match. The issues between Team Cena and Team Authority had rightly taken up the majority of the build-up towards Survivor Series, and besides a ton of dull Triple H and Stephanie McMahon promos, had done a solid job selling a story. It had concentrated on stacking the odds against John Cena and his teammates at every possible turn whilst making their side as strong as possible. This made for a great deal of excitement, especially concerning whether the Authority would collapse, or all of Team Cena would depart in defeat?
From the opening seconds the match got the crowd’s attention, with Big Show flooring Mark Henry with a knockout punch to send the Authority reeling. This was responded to by the presence and dominance of Rusev, who took on the attacks of anybody he stood opposite. Rusev appeared as the man the Authority would back to the hilt and carry his team to victory, and that seemed the case when he shockingly eliminated Ryback. But, thanks to some quick-thinking by a fallen Dolph Ziggler, Rusev threw himself through an announce table and was counted out. Seth Rollins as captain continued to take charge by interfering to chop down Team Cena, and did so to help eliminate Erick Rowan when former partner Luke Harper got the pin. Staring down Rollins, Harper and Kane, Big Show took the chance to betray his team and keep his job, knocking out John Cena so he was eliminated, before walking out.
This left Ziggler alone against seemingly insurmountable odds. Already worn down by Rusev’s assault, he was easy pickings for Kane to unleash his power upon. But, Ziggler hit a superkick followed by the Zig-Zag to dispatch of the Corporate Demon. Luke Harper then took his chance to try and oust the Show-Off, like he did on RAW to claim the Intercontinental Championship. But this time his foiled by a roll-up, leaving Rollins holding up the hopes of the entire Authority. Fighting for his career, Ziggler fought with the heart of a lion, taking down Rollins twice with Zig-Zags, only for Triple H to interfere by pulling the referees out of the ring. His own position on the line, Triple H interjected in the fight by hitting the Pedigree. With Rollins poised to win the match, strange music filled the arena, and for the first time in WWE history, Sting entered the ring, staring down the COO. After an agonizing period of cheering and sizing each other up, Sting dropped Triple H with the Scorpion Death Drop, pulled Ziggler on top of Rollins, and handed the victory to Team Cena. Ziggler as Sole Survivor soaked up the adulation of the audience for his starring performance, whilst the Authority were dragged kicking and screaming from the arena to the delight of the crowd.