Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new WWE World Heavyweight Champion, twice over, following the close of last night’s Survivor Series pay-per-view spectacular.
The 2015 Survivor Series was an overall fun show with two hot opening matches followed by a frenetic tournament ending featuring a Money in the Bank cash-in. If I had any nits to pick, it would probably be that I wished more of the tournament was included on the pay-per-view. While some of us bemoan the lack of elimination matches on the card every year, removing it and a few other middle card bouts and focusing the show around the title, with the outstanding quarterfinal matches from Raw moved to this show, in conjunction with the Undertaker’s anniversary could have taken it from just a decent show to home run show. However, no matter what happens in the network era, you can’t beat the $9.99 price tag.
Let’s start with the biggest focus of the night, the big gold and jewel encrusted championship.
WWE Championship Tournament Semi-finals:
- Roman Reigns defeated Alberto Del Rio with a spear.
- Dean Ambrose defeated Kevin Owens with Dirty Deeds.
WWE Championship Tournament Finals: Roman Reigns defeated Dean Ambrose with the spear.
The two semi-final matches set a high watermark for in-ring quality on tonight’s show with two outstanding contests. The first saw Del Rio’s best match since returning to WWE and a ton of great near falls. Del Rio worked over Reigns’ shoulder for most of the match. What Reigns lacks in physical selling (both he and Del Rio seemed to forget which shoulder was injured several times), he makes up for it in great facial expressions. In the end, Del Rio came off the top into a Reigns spear for the finish sending Roman to the final.
For the second semi-final, Kevin Owens attempted to take Dean Ambrose to chin lock city, but ultimately the Lunatic Fringe survived a fantastic closing sequence to take the match. Owens had Ambrose on the ropes with two superkicks, going for the pop-up powerbomb, Ambrose reversed it into a huracanrana and nailed Owens with Dirty Deeds for the win.
In the WWE World Championship Tournament Finals, Roman Reigns climbed the mountain to defeat Ambrose with the second spear of the match. This match was a surprisingly short considering it’s importance, at around 9 minutes, but we soon learned why it was brief. What it lacked in length, Reigns and Ambrose made up for in intensity, including my favorite moment where the two sat next to each other punching each other in the mush.
As the confetti fell and the COO came to the ring to congratulate the new champion, the celebration would be short-lived. Rather than shake Triple H’s hand, Reigns speared him instead, opening the door for an Authority screwjob. Mr. Money In The Bank, Sheamus decided to cash in his guaranteed title shot at Reigns’ most distracted moment to steal the WWE Championship from a dejected Roman Reigns.
While neither Reigns or Sheamus are going to be popular choices with the vocal/never satisfied portion of the fan base, the execution of this cash-in went really great. I especially thought returning to Reigns after the broadcast dejected in the ring was very effective. Non-jaded jerks are gonna eat that up with a spoon. Sheamus is a good opponent for Reigns, a heel that is universally reviled and should garner Reigns some crowd support in his eventual chase for the title. While yes, I’m a fat mark who would love Kevin Owens as the heel champion, “smart fans” are going to back Owens in that feud. With Sheamus, Reigns has a chance to win more fans over.
On that subject, as discussed on the Chad Dukes Wrestling show, it’s time to stop saying Roman Reigns hasn’t “earned” being champion. Reigns has had some great matches when put in the ring with top talent- Bryan, Lesnar, Wyatt, Owens, Cesaro, Ambrose to name a few and there’s no reason to believe he couldnt’ do that as champion. Other than a hard headed opinion that only guys from the indies deserve success, that is. Over the next few months, he’s going to be put through a similar gauntlet that our beloved Daniel Bryan had to face- tasting the glory, only to have it ripped away for the second time, and seeking redemption at WrestleMania. Being The Rock or CM Punk on the mic isn’t a prerequisite for being champion either. I could rattle off name after name of WWE champions who were nothing more than average on the stick. Finally as evidenced by tonight, he’s transitioning from crowds purely hating on him to “Let’s Go Roman/Roman Sucks” chants, much like the face of the company the divisive John Cena. If you don’t think there are dollar signs with that model, check out Cena’s merch sales. Twice now, WWE has gone back on “forcing him down your throat,” and put the belt on another, it’s time to give him his moment.
The Undertaker and Kane defeated Bray Wyatt & Luke Harper when Undertaker pinned Harper after a tombstone.
This was pure nostalgia and celebration of the Undertaker character. From the elaborate entrance to the post match ovation, if you didn’t know any better, it felt like a send off for the Dead Man or at least the Brothers of Destruction as a team. On any other night I might have been more upset over the handling of the Wyatt Family, but on the 25th Anniversary of the Undertaker, the results were to be expected. Before the match began, the Brothers of Destruction took out Erik Rowan with a double chokeslam. After eliminating the Black Sheep late in the match, the Brothers took control after the double sit up spot and stereo chokeslams. It wasn’t as one-sided as it sounds with the Wyatts controlling the middle of the match.
I do wish there was some sort of payoff/build/reason for Wyatt to summon the BOD’s powers against them. It was a major focal point of a promo and video packages and then…nothing.
Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Match: The Lucha Dragons, Ryback & The Usos defeated The New Day, Sheamus, & King Barrett.
As always, the New Day was on fire on the mic and with their in-ring antics including getting King Barrett in on the dancing. The match itself was solid but too similar to the Kickoff Show elimination match IMO, ending in a heel team disadvantage, which would have been fine had we not seen it an hour or so earlier. Once the New Day walked out on Sheamus, it felt like the live crowd’s interest followed.
Biggest disappointment of the match was to see the KANG of the Ring, Barrett felled by Sin Cara early. Guys got all the tools, he can be serious, he can be funny, what’s the hesitation? Also, Kalisto is so much better than Sin Cara, it’s ridiculous. Crisper offense, more firey babyface, and most importantly he looks like he cares. I’ve been beating the “new Rey” drum for a while, I hope they break him off into a singles soon.
Survivors: Kalisto, Ryback, & Jey Uso
WWE Divas Championship: Charlotte defeated Paige with the Figure 8 submission.
These two were given a lot of time to have an NXT-style divas match, but something just didn’t click for me and seemingly fo the live crowd either. The intensity set up in the contract signing was gone, perhaps by design due to the controversy. But since that genie was out of the bottle, why would Charlotte waste any time trying to murder death kill Paige after the comments made on Monday? Regardless if you’re going to mention them, everyone remembers, so Charlotte should be out for blood. Instead, they started like a traditional match and eased into some brutality. If Charlotte was fired up from the jump the crowd may have been a bit livelier.
Tyler Breeze defeated Dolph Ziggler with a Unprettier.
Very good match, but very quick and Raw-like. Breeze did a fantastic job getting his and Summer’s characters over tonight. From the pre-show, coining the term “googs” for googling, to the naturally irritating selfie stick he’s taking his limited opportunities and making the most of them. I was skeptical of adding Summer to his act but she’s so naturally hateable with her facial expressions, it’s really working for me.
Kickoff Match- Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Match: Neville, The Dudley Boyz, Titus O’Neil, & the returning Goldust defeated The Miz, Bo Dallas, Stardust & The Ascension.
As I said before I didn’t care for both Survivor Series elimination matches ending in handicap heel disadvantages. In Atlanta this was clearly a missed opportunity to set up a continuance of the Goldust-Stardust feud or to build someone like Neville, by having him overcome a numbers disadvantage to win. Word today is that Titus O’Neil replaced the injured Cesaro on the blue eyes team so perhaps this was intended to be a showcase for the Swiss Superman that got scrapped.
Survivors: The Dudley Boyz, Titus O’Neil & Goldust