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WWE’s Survivor Series has traditionally been one of the “big four” pay-per-views – the ones that are most worth watching. Part of the reason for this is because it contains a match that isn’t seen at any other point in the year: the 4-or-5-man elimination tag team match. Historically speaking, it’s being billed as an important PPV because it was when The Undertaker, one of the company’s all-time biggest stars, made his debut. This year, the latter is being pushed as a selling point far more than the former. In fact, before the PPV even started, we didn’t even know who was competing in the arbitrary elimination tag team matches. We just knew that one or two would be happening. The Undertaker’s 25th anniversary, meanwhile, got an entire week of dedication. If you were going to watch this PPV, it was far more likely to be because of that, or because of the tournament being held for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, which was vacated after Seth Rollins injured his knee at a WWE Live event. Well, you got both of these things, although the results aren’t likely to be particularly pleasing, especially when it comes to the result of the Heavyweight Championship.

For those who are planning to watch the PPV, but haven’t yet and don’t want to be spoiled, stop reading now.

Helpful Information

Since the WWE isn’t something that everyone follows, I’ve included some different text variations to help everyone keep track.

Green Name = A wrestler who is a babyface (good guy)
Red Name = A wrestler who is a heel (bad guy)
Blue Name = A wrestler who is a tweener (neither good or bad)
Italicized Name = The name of a WWE Show
Underlined Name = The name of a wrestler who is the defending champion of a championship match
Bold Name = A wrestler’s finishing move (a signature move that is stronger than other moves, usually used to try to end the match)

Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Tag Team Match

The Miz, Bo Dallas, Stardust, and The Ascension (Konnor and Viktor)
vs.
Neville, The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray Dudley and D-Von Dudley), Titus O’Neil, and Goldust


The Story: There isn’t a story going into this one – at least, not really. Stardust and The Ascension have formed a tag team called “The Cosmic Wasteland,” but haven’t done anything of value. Stardust has semi-recently feuded with both Neville and Goldust on the opposition team, but both feuds ended and we’ve moved on. Goldust hasn’t been seen in months after sustaining an injury, but returns tonight in one of the biggest shocks of the PPV – which goes to show you how unsurprising this year’s show was. I will say that hastily throwing together a Traditional Survivor Series match with nothing going into it, and then putting it on the pre-show, is very much disrespectful to the PPV.

The Match: Just seconds into the match, Goldust pins Viktor with a powerslam, eliminating him from the match and reminding us that The Ascension is a joke of a tag team. Konnor is next to go with an uranage from Bubba Ray. We get some actual back-and-forth action for a while before Neville is taken out with a BoDog followed by a Skull-Crushing Finale. The Miz then gets rolled up by Goldust for another elimination. Titus O’Neil eliminates Dallas with the Clash of the Titus, and a 3D eliminates Stardust, winning the match, even though neither of the Dudley Boyz was legal in the match – Titus O’Neil never tagged out.

The match wasn’t interesting, as there was no story to tell and it was a pre-show match, which the faces – particularly if one is returning from injury – are usually going to win anyway. It’s bland, but outside of the nonsensical ending was functional.

The Winner: Neville, The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray Dudley and D-Von Dudley), Titus O’Neil, and Goldust

Aftermath: Stardust seemed irate at Goldust’s return, so a rekindling of their feud may take place – it was cut short, anyway, after they had one lackluster match. For everyone else? This match does nothing either way for any of them. The Dudley Boyz recently returned to the company, but after immediately getting a shot at the tag team titles, they’ve now been relegated to doing very little. The Ascension is terrible, Titus O’Neil is in another nothing team, Bo Dallas can’t get over on the main roster, The Miz seems lost right now, and Neville is about the only one who, right now, deserves to be doing something better.

[rating=2]
Match 2 Banner

WWE World Heavyweight Championship Tournament Match (Semifinals)

Alberto Del Rio
vs.
Roman Reigns


The Story: After Seth Rollins injured his knee during a WWE live event, the WWE World Heavyweight Championship had to be vacated. To determine who would win, a tournament was announced, with a grand total of 16 participants competing over the course of a couple of weeks. All but the semifinals and finals have already taken place, with all three of those matches scheduled for Survivor Series.

To get to this point, Alberto Del Rio defeated Stardust and Kalisto, the former of whom competed on the pre-show, while the latter will compete later on in the show. Roman Reigns was offered a chance to jump straight to the top by Triple H, a member of The Authority (the WWE’s version of evil corporate management), since he was the number one contender at the time. Reigns declined the offer, deciding to fight his way to the top instead of being given a handout. He defeated Big Show and Cesaro to reach the semifinals. Neither of those men competed at Survivor Series.

The Match: Those who know both WWE’s philosophy on making stars, as well as the way that the company likes to tell stories, are aware that Roman Reigns is being groomed to be the next face of the company. It was painfully obvious that Reigns would be advancing here, and likely winning the entire competition. He was placed against opponents who either (1) made him look like the underdog or (2) would draw a competitive match out of a competitor who still, for the most part, needs to be carried. Alberto Del Rio is simply another stepping stone for Reigns.

This kills any sense of tension and suspense that the match had going for it. When the outcome is so obvious, it’s hard to become invested in the match. Del Rio and Reigns do have a competitive match, with a couple of decent false finishes, one extremely nasty kick, and Del Rio going to the top rope far too many times for my liking. It was certainly passable, although didn’t give fans much reason to invest. Reigns wins with a Spear.

The Winner: Roman Reigns

Aftermath: Roman Reigns advances to the finals of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship Tournament, surprising absolutely nobody. That is the main event of Survivor Series. Meanwhile, Alberto Del Rio still holds the United States Championship, and can move on to feuding with a midcarder over that belt. Reigns continues to look strong, and Del Rio isn’t weakened by this result. It’s the only logical way this match could have played out, predictable as it was.

[rating=2.5]
Match 3 Banner

WWE World Heavyweight Championship Tournament Match (Semifinals)

Dean Ambrose
vs.
Kevin Owens


The Story: After Seth Rollins injured his knee during a WWE live event, the WWE World Heavyweight Championship had to be vacated. To determine who would win, a tournament was announced, with a grand total of 16 participants competing over the course of a couple of weeks. All but the semifinals and finals have already taken place, with all three of those matches scheduled for Survivor Series.

To get to this point, Dean Ambrose defeated Tyler Breeze and Dolph Ziggler, two men who are feuding with each other and have a match together later on in the show. Kevin Owens, meanwhile, defeated Titus O’Neil and Neville, two men who competed on the pre-show.

The Match: Despite the most obvious route of having Dean Ambrose win and having two former teammates and current friends face off in the finals, there did feel like a legitimate shot for Kevin Owens to pick up the victory. As a result, most of the match’s near-falls had a sense of suspense to them. You could realistically see Kevin Owens picking up the victory, especially if you feel like Reigns is winning and needs another incredibly competitive match in order to get over with the fans.

Owens and Ambrose are two of the best workers in the company right now, and, as a result, deliver the Match of the Night. Owens turns in the showier performance of the two, getting to hit a few moves we don’t see too often, like a TKO, a diving moonsault(!), and a fisherman buster suplex(!!). Ambrose plays the gritty, never-give-up character, taking most of the punishment before coming back to pick up the win with Dirty Deeds.

The Winner: Dean Ambrose

Aftermath: Like the other semifinals match, what happens next is pretty obvious. Dean Ambrose gets to have another bout tonight, facing off against Roman Reigns in the finals. Meanwhile, Kevin Owens holds the Intercontinental Championship, another midcard belt, meaning whoever steps up to be the number one contender will feud with him. The result, once again, was the most logical, although both men would have come away looking strong regardless of who picked up the win.

[rating=3.5]

Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Tag Team Match

Ryback, The Lucha Dragons (Sin Cara and Kalisto), and The Usos (Jimmy and Jey Uso)
vs.
The New Day (Big E, Kofi Kingston, and Xavier Woods), King Barrett, and Sheamus


The Story: Like the Traditional Survivor Series match on the pre-show, there was no buildup to this match. It was announced only shortly before the PPV, and we didn’t even know who would be competing – although it wasn’t hard to figure out, as the WWE roster right now is extremely limited. The Usos and The New Day are factions that are currently feuding, but they’ve only just started and the tension between them is not exactly at all-time highs. It’s another insult to the PPV, and the match type.

The Match: Once again, a finish that doesn’t make a great deal of sense happens, although doing what was necessary to force it to make sense would have slowed the pacing of the PPV even more than The New Day cutting a pre-match promo. But we’ll get there. Before that, lots of eliminations need to happen.

King Barrett is first out, being eliminated by Sin Cara’s Swanton Bomb. Ryback does a top-rope dive to the floor on everyone! Kingston and Woods pull off a double-team move to eliminate Jimmy Uso. A Sheamus Brogue Kick takes out Sin Cara. An Uso top-rope Splash eliminates Big E. The other New Day members help him to the back, disappearing from the match. Sheamus is the only one left for his team, and he is quickly teamed up on and eliminated.

At this point, The two remaining New Day members should have had an opportunity to get back to the ring – they should have ten seconds each – but that’s skipped over and the match ends. The match existed to be a spot-fest, fill time, and give 10 men a PPV bonus. It did that, but it did nothing else. Big E’s spear to the outside of the ring continues to be fantastic, though.

The Winner: Ryback, The Lucha Dragons (Sin Cara and Kalisto), and The Usos (Jimmy and Jey Uso)

Aftermath: The New Day display their cowardly nature by skipping out on the match, and likely have a legitimate reason to be angry on Raw, as they were never officially eliminated. They’ll continue to feud with the Usos. King Barrett has done nothing since winning the King of the Ring tournament, while Sheamus is still holding his Money in the Bank briefcase – which gives him the opportunity to make a World Heavyweight Championship match whenever he wants. The Lucha Dragons are another tag team going nowhere, and Ryback is left without a feud, although he could easily find one.

[rating=2.5]
Match 5 Banner

WWE Divas Championship Match

Paige
vs.
Charlotte


The Story: After Charlotte was called up to the main roster, she quickly formed a team with Paige and Becky Lynch. But Paige and Charlotte soon became at odds with one another. When Charlotte won the Divas Championship, Paige turned on her, and the two have been feuding ever since. Charlotte is the fighting champion, while Paige is the backstabbing friend, using various tactics to try to get in the head of her former friend.

The Match: A personal and hard-hitting match, Charlotte and Paige gave it their all in a match that, prior to the “Divas Revolution,” would have otherwise been used as filler. There were a couple of memorable spots – and one that would have been memorable if Charlotte’s spear didn’t look awful – some decent technical wrestling, and no outside interference, which is always a concern when you’re trying to push something around nine competitors all at once. Charlotte isn’t particularly polished in the ring, but she is superbly athletic. Paige is more polished, and is a good ring leader. All in all, it’s one of the better matches of a weak card. Charlotte retains her title with the Figure Eight.

The Winner: Charlotte

Aftermath: One of the disappointing aspects of this bout was how decisive a victory it feels for Charlotte, who silences her former friend and biggest critic rather easily, leaving little room for this feud to continue after. Charlotte will find a new competitor for her championship – one has to think that current friend Becky Lynch has to be in line soon, as does Sasha Banks, who is the best overall Diva in the company – so if the feud ends, she’ll be fine. As for Paige? She’s the only true heel in the division, so she shouldn’t have trouble finding a direction. But this is the WWE, and it historically struggles to know what to do with its Divas. Paige could feud with Becky Lynch, too, or move onto almost literally anyone else. But will the company come up with a good story in either case? I have my doubts.

[rating=3]
Match 6 Banner

Singles Match

Tyler Breeze (with Summer Rae)
vs.
Dolph Ziggler


The Story: Tyler Breeze was recently called up to the main roster, after having a good run of success in NXT, the WWE’s developmental show. Upon his call-up, he aligned himself with Summer Rae – who was at various points both with and against Dolph Ziggler. Breeze, seeing similarities between himself and Ziggler, immediately sparked a feud with Ziggler. The two have been fighting since Breeze’s debut, culminating in their match at Survivor Series to determine who is the best of the pair.

The Match: A year ago, this match would have had more time, and the previous Divas’ match would have been shafted. But, times have changed, so this is the shortest match on the card. Ziggler and Breeze aren’t given ample time to do much that will leave an impression on an audience, even though both of them are skilled in-ring workers. Breeze shows us he’s a bit of a cowardly heel by using Summer Rae as a meat shield at one point, but that’s about the only thing the match does for him. Ziggler’s sole highlight is hitting a mid-air dropkick on Breeze. But, after a quick bit of back-and-forth action, Breeze hits the Unprettier on Ziggler to pick up the win.

The Winner: Tyler Breeze (with Summer Rae)

Aftermath: As the opening feud of Tyler Breeze’s career, this was not a memorable one. While it establishes him as a dominant force on the roster – Ziggler is a former World Champion, and in all seriousness should still be in contention – it didn’t allow him to do much in-ring work, and didn’t give fans much reason to care. If the feud is over – and the decisive victory for Breeze would indicate that it is – where does he go? After a title this soon after being called up? Or after someone like Ryback, a high-ranking member of the midcard? He’s got options, and thankfully most of them are fresh matchups for the audience.

Meanwhile, Ziggler is going nowhere, and now he’s lost to a newcomer. Where does that leave him? He needs to regain momentum in order to become a title challenger, so he’ll likely remain in limbo for a month or two in order to start picking up some wins.

[rating=2]
Match 7 Banner

Tag Team Match

The Wyatt Family (Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper, with Braun Strowman and Erick Rowan)
vs.
The Brothers of Destruction (Kane and The Undertaker)


The Story: After previously feuding with The Undertaker back in March – and losing – Bray Wyatt went on his way, got involved in some other feuds, recruited a new member to his cult (Braun Strowman), and decided last month to try again. After The Undertaker lost a grueling match to Brock Lesnar at Hell in a Cell, the entire Wyatt Family attacked him and abducted him. The next week, they did the same thing to Kane. A couple of weeks passed, with Wyatt claiming that he had stolen the souls of the two men. But, soon enough, both The Undertaker and Kane reemerged, seemingly unharmed, and a match was made for Survivor Series. Two members of the Wyatt Family would take on Kane and The Undertaker.

The Match: Prior to the match even beginning, Erick Rowan tried to ambush the ring, but was stopped and put down by both Kane and The Undertaker; he was never seen again during the match. Bray Wyatt decided that he and Luke Harper would compete in the tag team match, leaving Braun Strowman at ringside.

The match itself was nothing special, but given that the entire event was advertised as the “25th Anniversary of The Undertaker,” it’s hard to imagine that it would be. Both Kane and The Undertaker are in their late 40s, and given how long they’ve worked, it would be a surprise for them to consistently put on great matches. This bout would be fine as the main event of an episode of the weekly television show, but as a prime match on a PPV? Sorry, but no. Nothing all that important happens, all the spots you expect to get hit are, The Undertaker dominates, and we all go home happy – even if it wasn’t exciting, nor was it that last match of the night. The Undertaker hits a Tombstone Piledriver on Luke Harper to pick up the win, surprising nobody.

The Winner: The Brothers of Destruction (Kane and The Undertaker)

Aftermath: Bray Wyatt and his Family don’t get to win feuds. It seems like WWE has decided that, as they’ve lost seemingly everything they’ve done in recent memory. Ruining The Undertaker’s anniversary night would have been the perfect time to turn them into great heels. It’s hard to see them doing much moving forward. Their credibility is gone. They’ll get in another feud, and they need to win it.

Meanwhile, The Undertaker continues to wrestle, which is a feat that’s astounding in its own right. Just a few years ago, we thought he was done – this year, he’s wrestled WWE live events in Mexico. While his body is seemingly holding up, every match is hard to watch, as you wonder which one will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. He’ll likely take at last a couple of PPVs off now in order to rest up, but he’ll be back in time for this year’s WrestleMania – if not sooner.

As for Kane, who knows? He’s stuck in “Demon Kane” mode now, although that only means as much as the WWE Creative wants it to mean. He can be used however they decide to use him. He could be a World Heavyweight Championship contender, he could be a midcard challenger, or he could be enhancement talent. He’s one of the most versatile performers on the roster, and while he’s not putting on classics anymore, you know what you’re getting from him, which is valuable.

[rating=2.5]
Match 8 Banner

WWE World Heavyweight Championship Tournament Match (Finals)

Roman Reigns
vs.
Dean Ambrose


The Story: After Seth Rollins injured his knee during a WWE live event, the WWE World Heavyweight Championship had to be vacated. To determine who would win, a tournament was announced, with a grand total of 16 participants competing over the course of a couple of weeks. All but the semifinals and finals have already taken place, with all three of those matches scheduled for Survivor Series.

Roman Reigns defeated Big Show and Cesaro prior to the PPV, and took down Alberto Del Rio in the PPV’s opening bout. Dean Ambrose beat Tyler Breeze and Dolph Ziggler before Survivor Series, and defeated Kevin Owens in the card’s second match to make it to the finals. The two men used to be teammates in a group called The Shield, and have remained allies since it disbanded.

The Match: A slow, uneventful match serves as the main event, as Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose struggle to do anything of interest for just under ten minutes. It was dull, not particularly entertaining, and yet also somehow rushed. The two men didn’t deliver a single memorable spot. It’s not the worst match on the card, but it certainly wasn’t in contention for the Match of the Night, which it should be considering it’s the main event. Roman Reigns wins with a Spear.

The Winner: Roman Reigns

Aftermath: There were two ways to go with this. Either Reigns wins cleanly and Sheamus uses his Money in the Bank briefcase in order to challenge an exhausted winner, or one of the two men turns heel on the other and wins the title as a result, likely aligning himself with The Authority. Well, Reigns won clean, so after a moment to catch his breath, Triple H came down to the ring to shake his hand. Reigns Spears him, but then turns around to eat a Brogue Kick from Sheamus. The briefcase is cashed in, and we have another match on our hands….

WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match

Roman Reigns
vs.
Sheamus


The Match: Reigns manages to kick out of the first Brogue Kick, much to Sheamus’ chagrin. But after taking a second one, he lies down for the three-count, allowing Sheamus to pick up the victory and become the new-new World Heavyweight Champion.

The Winner: Sheamus

Aftermath: Sheamus and Triple H shake hands and celebrate together, essentially meaning that we’ll have an Authority-backed champion once again, meaning that, effectively, not a lot changed even after Seth Rollins’ injury.

Look, a Sheamus title win isn’t going to please a lot of people, but after an injury ruined any plans Creative had with Rollins, it makes sense. After giving Sheamus the briefcase, there would have been a plan put in place to have him cash in. Just move that up a few months, change a couple of things around, and you don’t have to do much work in order to continue to head in the direction you wanted, just expedited a few months. Sheamus and Reigns will now feud, and if Reigns is going to win from him, he’ll be doing so as an underdog and fan favorite – as anyone who liberates the WWE Universe from a Sheamus title reign will be thanked for doing so.

[rating=2.5]

Recap

Survivor Series is typically a PPV worth watching, although this year it was a massive disappointment. With only two matches that were more than just passable, two throwaway “Traditional” matches that make the concept feel more like a joke than anything, and almost the entire show being incredibly predictable, it wasn’t worth watching. It accomplished very little in the grand scheme of things, most of the payoffs to the feuds felt anticlimactic, and the WWE World Heavyweight Championship picture looks far too similar to what it did before Seth Rollins was injured, except now we have Sheamus as the champion, and he’s not as entertaining.

It doesn’t provide much hope for the next month or two, although if there’s one thing that WWE can do, it’s turn things around very fast. That’s one of the reasons we watch. Hopefully that will be the case here.

Match of the Night: Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens.
Babyface victories: 7.
Heel victories: 2.
New Champion(s): 1 (Sheamus)
Retaining Champion(s): 1 (Charlotte)
WWE Network Freezes: Too many to count.

[rating=2.5]

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If you want more of Matthew “Marter” Parkinson, you can follow him on the Twitter @Martertweet and check out his weekly movie podcast.

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