Well here we are its back to Reviewing Main Events, starting with one of WWE’s traditional “Big Four” pay per view events of the year in the form of Survivor Series.
The original Survivor Series was created in 1987 as a way for WWE to mess with Jim Crockett Promotions, as they were holding Starrcade on the same day. JCP’s plan was to switch their show to a different timeslot so that fans could buy both events, but Vince McMahon then threatened to withhold WrestleMania IV from the pay per view companies if they showed JCP’s show, which led to a lot them refusing to carry Starrcade as a result.
Despite only existing as a way to mess with another company, WWE decided to keep the event going and it’s still around to this day. The early events started out with just Elimination Tag Team bouts, but as the years wore on they started adding normal match types as well, with the show eventually becoming more of a regular pay per view that had a token Survival match here or there.
This week we’ll be looking at the Main Events from 2005 to 2010
I haven’t done one of these for a while, so I’ll make it clear than I class the “Main Event” as the match that went on last. People get annoyed at that definition sometimes, but my opinion is that the match that closes the show is the most important one due to it being the lasting memory of the event, which makes it a Main Event in my book. If you disagree then fair enough, but I’m afraid that that’s how I’m going to do it.
WWE Survivor Series 2005
Team Raw: Shawn Michaels, Raw Tag Champs Big Show and Kane, Chris Masters and Carlito Caribbean Cool
Team Smackdown: Smackdown Champ Batista, Rey Mysterio, JBL, Bobby Lashley and Randy Orton w/ Jillian Hall and The Bodyguard Ace Cowboy Bob Orton
This was one of the first battles for “Brand Supremacy” at this event, with Smackdown taking on Raw in a traditional Survivor Series match. We see both teams getting cheered on by their respective rosters, with Batista having his body heavily taped up due to an injury that would eventually lead to him having to vacate the Title. This show wasn’t too long after the sad passing of Eddie Guerrero, with common thought online at the time being that Eddie or Orton would have already won the belt by now so that Batista could take time off, but Eddie’s death ended up putting things on hold.
This was during the period where Jillian Hall was managing JBL and her main character trait was that she had a huge growth on her face, because I guess Vince found things like that funny that particular week or something? Eventually The Boogeyman would rip it off her face and eat it (2006 everyone!) thus leaving her as a generic blond woman until she got the singing gimmick in 2007. The commentary team pushes that Randy Orton has been the Sole Survivor at the past two Survivor Series event to make you think that it might happen again. They then sadly dedicate a large chunk of the match time to the two announce teams arguing with one another, which gets annoying fast.
The problem with these Inter-Brand matches is that, unless you have a clear heel and a face going at it, there really isn’t much reason for the crowd to care as the Brand Split has really never created fierce enough loyalties to a respective brand to make the fans genuinely root for one over the other. Thus the fans main appeal comes from seeing hot moves and interesting combinations of guys going at it that they normally wouldn’t see. Thankfully the match isn’t heatless because it’s mostly all action and there’s some good work, with most guys getting a chance to have a moment to shine, but there isn’t a strong emotional connection from the crowd outside of popping for cool stuff. Lashley gets a chance to batter all of the Raw team, looking good in a process, but Kane catches him with an illegal choke slam and that allows Shawn to pin him.
Bobby Lashley Eliminated by Shawn Michaels (1) – Pin following Kane Choke Slam
Rey comes in and sells for a bit, as you’d expect when you look at how many big blokes are on the Raw team, and it should shock no one to learn that he does a fantastic job in that role. Injured Batista finally gets involved officially, and does a decent job working whilst hurt. Rey catches Kane with a 619 and Batista adds a Spine Buster to send Kane back to Heck.
Kane Eliminated by Batista (1) – Spine Buster
Kane decides to be a sore loser though and teams up for a double choke slam on Batista, which leads to Show pinning him to give Smackdown the advantage again.
Batista Eliminated by Big Show (1) – Double Choke Slam
Big Show gets to do the big monster spot where he bullies the Smackdown team, but Orton gives him a hot shot and that leads to the Smackdown team all hitting him with finishing moves, which is just how he got eliminated in the 2001 Main Event back in Part Three, and low and behold it’s how they get rid of him this time too.
Big Show Eliminated by Rey Mysterio (1) – Finisher Medley
With things now down to a 3 Vs 3 match, we settle into more heat on Rey, which is kind of redundant in a match like this, because it’s not like Rey has another babyface to tag and people don’t care enough about Smackdown as a brand to want him to tag one of JBL and Orton. Finally the kids and women start chanting for Rey a little bit. JBL manages to get a blind tag and Clothesline From New York sends Carlito back to his cabana.
Carlito Caribbean Cool Eliminated by JBL (1) – Clothesline From New York
I should point out that Shawn is selling outside the ring during all of this due to JBL giving him the Blockbuster Slam out there, which means he isn’t there to save Masters when Rey drops the Dime on him.
Chris Masters Eliminated by Rey Mysterio (2) – Dropping Tha Dime
So Shawn is now at a 1 Vs 3 disadvantage, with two heels and one face on the Smackdown side. Thus they decide to smartly go to Rey’s elimination next so that Shawn can go at with the two heels. Shawn and Rey do a very nice little segment and Shawn eventually super kicks him out of the air to eliminate him, and then follows that up with a quick fire elimination of JBL for good measure, leaving us with Orton Vs Shawn.
Rey Mysterio Eliminated by Shawn Michaels (2) – Super Kick
JBL Eliminated by Shawn Michaels (3) – Super Kick
The fans are already ahead of the plot here and chant for “Taker”, who was currently feuding with Orton at the time. Either they are all Raw fans or they just want to see the heel Orton get screwed and couldn’t care less if that means Smackdown has to lose the match. Shawn and Orton do their usual good match with one another, with both men selling well and doing some nice work. JBL tries to attack Shawn but he gets taken care of, with the distraction being enough for Orton to catch Shawn with an RKO for the three count. That was actually a neat call back to Kane being a sore loser earlier and causing Batista’s elimination as a result, with the same trick now being turned on the Raw team right at the end.
SOLE SURVIVOR: RANDY ORTON
MOST ELIMINATIONS: SHAWN MICHAELS (3)
This was an entertaining enough watch, but it just didn’t really have any stakes and that was reflected in the crowd reactions, as they popped for the cool stuff but didn’t actually care about the story of the match that much
Following the match, The Undertaker returns from getting burned in a casket by Orton to set up the Hell in a Cell match between the two at Armageddon 2005.
WWE Survivor Series 2006
This is Batista’s Last Chance at the Title
The DQ rule is waived, meaning the belt can change hands on a DQ or Count Out
Champ: King Booker w/ Queen Sharmell Vs Batista
Booker became the King earlier in the year and it had given his character a new lease of life. Sadly it did nothing for his ring work and, if anything, actively made him worse, but his promo’s and skits were really good. Batista had come from injury during the summer of 2006, and he’d done a DQ finish with Booker at Summer Slam. In real life the two had actually had some issues together and had gotten into a fistfight during the filming of the Summer Slam commercial. It had apparently been a real humdinger of a fighter and both men had been left bruised up as a result of it. They were professional enough to still work with one another after it though, hence this match.
Batista had forfeited the World Title due to his injury in Philly, and he has a chance to win it back in the same City he vacated it in here in this match. Booker milks his entrance and that leads to Batista running down to attack him. Booker sells that well and Batista continues to work him over back inside. It kind of sounds like there are some mild boo’s for Batista actually, which could be because Booker’s King act was a bit of a smark favourite and we are in Philly at the end of the day. These two really have next to no chemistry with one another, even though they can both have good matches, so it kind of starts to plod a bit, even with Batista getting the big extended babyface shine.
Booker eventually manages to cut Batista off with a Stun Gun, which means we’re probably not far off taking a trip to Rest Hold City seeing as it’s a heel Booker T match and all. I really like Booker’s work as a face, but his heel work has always bored me because he’s just not interesting enough as a wrestler to work heat for long periods in a Main Event setting. As a face he can sell and make comebacks, which he’s very good at and thus the matches tend to be far more entertaining. Thankfully Booker doesn’t just crank a chin lock on right away, but he does spend a large chunk of the heat working Batista over with basic strikes.
Batista could actually sell quite well, but his better babyface work came when they either stuck him in there with a really good heel who could work something different from the standard seven point structure or when they put him in there with another big babyface and just let them cut loose, like when he wrestled the likes of Undertaker and John Cena. This match is just dull, and the Philly crowd isn’t biting, with the odd murmured boo being the most we get reactions wise until Batista gets to the comeback.
Batista actually comes off the top with a shoulder tackle during the comeback and gets two from a Spine Buster, only for Booker to catch him with the Book End for a two of his own. It’s actually not a bad finishing stretch, with some good near falls, including when Batista gets the Batista Bomb but Booker gets his hand on the ropes at two to break the count. Sharmell passes Booker the Title belt and then distracts the referee, which leads to Booker trying a belt shot to win. Batista ducks it though and gets one of his own for the three count and the Title.
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: BATISTA
A dull match but I did like the last few minutes of it, especially the finish as it’s always good to see a heel that has been cheating for months get some of his own medicine from an intelligent babyface now and then. Wrestling is the ultimate morality play at the end of the day
WWE Survivor Series 2007
Hell in a Cell
Champ: Batista Vs The Undertaker
This was the final blow off to the Batista/Undertaker feud. They’d each won a match and had two draws leading up to this, so the Cell was introduced as a way to settle things once and for all. To be honest, at the time I didn’t feel like the feud really justified a Cell match blow off because both guys were faces and their feud was more about who was the toughest rather than genuine proper hatred, which is the sort of feud you’d expect to build to a Cell match. It just felt kind of out of place that they’d press the Cell button to finish off what was essentially a respect feud between two faces, but it pretty much assured that we’d get a good match at least.
They waste no time going straight to the slug fest, and it’s the usual good brawl between the two. Whereas Batista had little chemistry with Booker T he has lots with Undertaker, with pretty much every match between them in this 2007 feud being good. Hindsight being 20/20 and all, they probably should have let them close the show at Mania 23, but certainly going into Mania that year it seemed like Shawn/Cena was the safer bet for being the better Main Event, so you can’t really blame WWE on going with them instead. Things soon start getting nasty when Undertaker attacks Batista’s throat with a chair, leading to Batista spitting out some viscous red liquid to sell the weapon shot.
Batista manages to counter Old School into a Spine Buster though, which gets him back into the match and saves him from more throatal assaults. The action here has been really good, with them barely resting at all and just going at it hammer and tongs. It’s quite impressive to see two such big blokes go at it like this. Big Man Slug Fest really was Batista’s specialty and he had some decent matches doing that sort of formula. It’s a shame we never got to see him have a big match with Brock Lesnar at some stage, as I reckon that would have been really good provided he got a motivated Brock to work with who was actually willing to do stuff with him.
Batista does the crimson mask blade job next following another Taker chair attack, but he keeps coming and we get the always impressive Big Man Superplex spot, with close to 700 pounds slamming onto the mat. Taker catches Batista in the Hell’s Gate when he tries to go for the pin though, but Batista rolls out of the ring to break, which leads to Taker diving out onto him and then trying to brain him with the ring steps. Batista’s fights that off though and hits Taker with the steps himself, as both men’s faces are just caked in blood now. I’m not a gore freak personally, but I think it’s perfectly valid to get some juice in a setting where guys are hitting each other in the face like this. It actively adds to the drama in my opinion and it works really well provided you don’t do it too often.
We head inside for the finishing stretch, with both men hitting big moves to get some near falls. It’s done well, with some of the near falls being super close. The only thing I’d say is that the crowd heat is a little disappointing for the kick outs at certain points, but the execution from both men is spot on. One spot that gets a big reaction is when Batista brings a table into the ring and power bombs Taker through it for two. Batista decides to try doing a move onto the steps next, but Taker fights him off and then gets the Tombstone onto the steps for what would appear to be the three count. However, Edge suddenly makes an appearance as a disguised cameraman and beats Taker down, leading to Batista making the cover to retain and robbing everyone of a proper blow off.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: BATISTA
Another excellent match between these two, as this delivered on what you’d want from two big blokes waling on one another in the Cell setting and the finish, though super cheap, set up the Main Event of Mania 24 nicely with Taker finally getting his revenge on Edge for continuously screwing with him, so it justified itself in the long run
WWE Survivor Series 2008
Champ: Chris Jericho Vs John Cena
Jericho had gone heel in the summer of 2008 and had gotten incredibly over by essentially erasing anything remotely likable about himself so he could be as villainous as possible. Cena had wrestled Batista at Summer Slam and gotten injured when Batista had countered a top rope leg drop into a power bomb, with this match being his first one back from that injury. I actually haven’t watched this match since the original airing way back in 2008, so it’ll be interesting to see how it holds up. I remember liking it at the time, but the big talking point from the show itself was Edge returning with a big hobo beard and winning the WWE Title from Triple H.
Jericho is such a good villain that he manages to get most of the crowd chanting for Cena in the early going. They tell a good story throughout the match itself that Cena is unsure of himself following his injury lay off, which Jericho tries to play on by attacking Cena’s neck area as that was the part of his body he hurt in the match with Batista. There’s the odd moment where their timing is a little off, but the work is mostly good as these two guys usually had decent matches with one another. The cut off is actually really clever, as Cena teases going up top but stops himself because he’s worried about getting hurt again, which allows Jericho to cut him off with a DDT when he gets back in. Psychology!
Jericho works the head and neck area in the heat, being a great cold blooded heel and trying to win the match however he can, which leads to a really well done count out tease when he kicks Cena’s head into the ring post. The work here has been decent but the storytelling has been done really well, with lots of nice little touches to show that Cena is rusty from his lay off and clearly not 100% yet, whilst Jericho constantly works in different attacks and holds to try and take advantage of the injured area, including a Full Nelson at one stage, which is a hold I don’t think I’ve ever seen him use before. Its storytelling 101 and they’re absolutely nailing it.
Cena eventually dodges the Lionsault and goes to the comeback, but when he tries the Five Knuckle Shuffle he gets caught in The Lion Tamer, with Jericho putting the knee into Cena’s neck to further work over the injured area of Cena’s body. That was done really well. Cena manages to power out of the hold, but Jericho keeps coming and locks in THE DREADED YOUNG LION BOSTON CRAB, which leads to Cena pulling himself to the ropes in a great submission tease. The crowd is totally into the story they are telling here, and there’s a big pop when Cena catches Jericho with an F-U out of nowhere for the double down.
We head into the finishing stretch, with Cena finally having the confidence to come off the top rope with the leg drop, and he gets it successfully to show his mojo is back, only for Jericho to slip out of the F-U and get the Code Breaker in a fantastic near fall. Honestly they could have quite easily made that the finish and had Cena win the rematch at Royal Rumble to set up the rubber match at Mania 25 and it totally would have worked. You show that Cena finally has his confidence back for the moral victory, but that his rustiness eventually cost him with Jericho being that little bit fresher, meaning he can go away and get some more reps in before being able to win the rematch. We get some more near falls and submission teases, with Cena finally rallying with the F-U for the win.
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: JOHN CENA
This was an excellent bit of storytelling. The work was good too, but they told a really good story throughout the match with Cena gradually getting his mojo back as the match wore on before finally being able to survive the cunning heel to pick up the win. The loss didn’t hurt Jericho as he got plenty of offence in too and got to look plotting and vicious whilst he went after the neck. I remembered this one being good but it exceeded the quality I had it mentally pegged at from memory
WWE Survivor Series 2009
Champ: John Cena Vs Shawn Michaels Vs Triple H
From memory most of the build for this was all three guys doing comedy with one another, but they eventually got serious once the actual match came around. There was an additional story over whether Shawn and Triple H would act as a team during the match itself, which Shawn quickly answers by playing Triple H some Chin Music right from the opening bell, with Cena doing a fantastic shocked facial expression in response. That leads to Shawn and Cena doing their usual good match with one another whilst Triple H sells on the outside. Normally I’d be annoyed at the usual Triple Threat trope of two guys going at it when another one sells like that, but the super kick spot on Triple H was done really well so I’ll give them a pass on it this time.
Triple H gets some payback on Shawn for the earlier super kick by giving him a spine buster through the announce table, which takes him out of proceedings and leads to Triple H and Cena doing a bit together inside the ring whilst Shawn sells. Again, normally this formula would annoy me, but they’ve done it in a somewhat interesting way this time at least with Triple H and Shawn but catching one another unawares to show that neither of them will be taking any prisoners in this one. Eventually Cena gets knocked out of the ring as well, which leads to Shawn and Triple H doing a proper segment together for old times’ sake, and it’s the good match you’d expect.
All the wrestling has been good here and I’ve enjoyed the story being told, with the crowd being into the action and clearly wanting anyone but Cena to win. We head into the finishing stretch, with everyone getting a chance to win it and the timing being really good. A great near fall is Shawn giving Triple H yet another super kick, which leads to Shawn tumbling out of the ring and Triple H landing onto Cena for two. That would have actually been a fun finish that could have built to further matches, and I liked how the ref sold it too, as he had no idea there was a pin being made until he turned around after checking on Shawn. Great stuff!
There are some more great spots, such as Cena catching Triple H with the F-U and then both he and Shawn draping an arm, which could have opened a sizable can of worms if Triple H didn’t manage to kick out at two. They’ve done a lot of fun stuff in this one and played with the formula a little bit. They’ve achieved the unlikely outcome of doing the standard Triple Threat match but playing with the formula just enough that it doesn’t actually fully feel like the formula even though it totally is. Does that make sense? I certainly hope it does! Anyway, Cena eventually manages to prevail by giving Shawn an F-U onto Triple H, which is enough for the three count.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: JOHN CENA
Good work, good story and a responsive crowd made this a super enjoyable outing
WWE Survivor Series 2010
Guest Referee: John Cena
If Barrett wins then Cena is free from The Nexus, but if Orton wins then Cena is fired
Champ: Randy Orton Vs Wade Barrett
Barrett had defeated Cena in a match to force him to join the heel Nexus stable, but since then Cena had been a constant thorn in his side. Thus this match was set up, with Cena having to either call it fairly and risk being fired, or outright helping Barrett to win to gain his freedom but then have to deal with a vengeful Orton coming after him. The best thing they did to hype the match up was to have Roddy Piper cut an impassioned promo on Raw, saying that Cena would be spitting on him and everyone else who never won the belt if he helped Barrett win it unfairly. To be honest, the originally hot Nexus angle had been losing steam since they lost the Main Event at Summer Slam and even adding CM Punk into it failed to significantly spice it up.
Barrett and Orton are both mechanically solid guys, so they work a perfectly cromulent match but it doesn’t really feel like an exciting Main Event clash. They of course do some ref spots around Cena, with him stopping both men from clobbering the other in the corner at certain points to show he’s going to try and call this one fairly. Barrett manages to cut Orton off following a brawling segment outside of the ring by doing the Jay White tactic of ramming Orton into the ring apron, which leads to some heat back inside the ring.
Once again the work here is perfectly fine, with Barrett’s offence looking solid and Orton selling it correctly, but the crowd reactions aren’t really there for it and it’s again just a basic match without really any extra spice to make it feel special, which is what you kind of need when you’re closing out a pay per view like these two are. Orton eventually goes into his comeback and it has the usual nice snap to it, with Barrett bumping and feeding for it well.
I really cannot fault either man for their execution here, but the match has really just been “there” for the most part, which would be fine for something earlier in the card or a TV Main Event, but this is a pay per view and one of the “Big Five” to boot, so I kind of expect a bit more. They continue to push the ref angle, with Barrett chewing Cena out for some two counts, including one after The Wasteland. Barrett shoves Cena following that, which leads to Cena shoving him back and Orton getting the RKO for the three count. Sadly Matt Striker blows the call by yelling “Cena’s Free”, which leads to Michael Cole having to correct him.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: RANDY ORTON
Just a match. Nothing wrong with the work itself, and the few ref spots they did made sense, but it was a pretty bog standard outing at the end of the day and didn’t feel like the dramatic collision it should have been when you take the stipulation into account. Cena would soon be back and would even wrestle on the December pay per view, so his sacking didn’t last very long
Three absolute crackers this time out, with nothing being actively bad either. I’ll take that when it comes to one of these reviews!
Hopefully I’ll see you all next week when we cover 2005 to 2010!