Written By: Alexander Settee
Survivor Series 2008, November 23, 2008, TD Banknorth Garden, Boston, MA
Announcers: The teams of: Jim Ross & Tazz, Michael Cole & Jerry “The King” Lawler, and Todd Grisham & Matt Striker
Here’s the 22nd annual Survivor Series. The big hype was centered on the return of John Cena returning from injury to challenge for the World Title in his hometown, with the rest of the card not looking particularly strong, but if nothing else the tag matches should at least be enjoyable if meaningless. First of all though, they kicked off the day by running an out of the box angle. Early Sunday morning a news article appeared on wwe.com saying that Jeff Hardy had been found unconscious in the stairwell of his hotel and had been rushed to the hospital. It did actually get a small amount of mainstream news coverage, all of which was immediately removed once they realized it was an angle, but JR and Tazz open the show trying to sell it as a shoot and a serious situation. Some of the reaction I’ve seen has called it a pretty tasteless and offensive idea considering not only Jeff’s own personal history, but also the cases of guys like Brian Pillman and Eddie Guerrero being found dead in their hotels. I don’t think it was necessarily a bad idea to try and do something like this, but the execution leaves a little to be desired. I’m not at all offended because this company has set the bar of good taste so low that there’s really no way for them to crawl under it again, and I don’t take them seriously when they do things like this so it has no real impact on me. What is does do is put the Triple Threat WWE Title match in jeopardy and considering that Hardy’s quest for the belt is a big thing they’re pushing now it represents a pretty serious bait and switch, which actually does offend me more than any silly angle.
Opening Match: Shawn Michaels, Shad Gaspard, JTG, Great Khali (w/Ranjan Singh) & Rey Mysterio, Jr. vs. John “Bradshaw” Layfield, MVP, The Miz, John Morrison, & Kane
MVP starts out with Rey and he immediately gets a knee. He whips Rey to the corner, catches an attempted boot and nails him. Irish whip, but Rey ducks and comes back with a rana. Dropkick gets 1 and Rey tags JTG. Double dropkick gets 2, but JTG puts the head down on an Irish whip and gets nailed. MVP then nails a dropkick to the knee and the Drive By to get the pin and eliminate JTG at 1:40. MVP celebrates, but that allows Great Khali to come in and nail a chop and get the pin to eliminate him at 1:56. Kane comes in now and gets some kicks but runs into a clothesline. They trade some shots until Kane tries a chokeslam, but Khali powers out and makes the tag to Rey. Rey comes in with a splash off of Khali’s shoulders which gets 3 to send Kane packing and hopefully put that feud to rest at 3:27. Morrison is in next and he goes to work on Rey until he misses a charge and lets Rey come back. Rey gets a spinning rana and tags Shad who whips Rey into Morrison. Shad then gets a press slam, but when he charges, Morrison trips him up and he hits the buckle. Tag to Miz with he and Morrison double teaming Shad in the corner. After controlling a bit and making a couple more tags they send Shad off the ropes, but he ducks and comes back with a double clothesline. He gets another clothesline for each of them, followed by a corner whip on Miz, then a powerslam and funky elbow. Morrison comes back in and provides a distraction for a moment and that allows Miz to come back and get the Reality Check on Shad for the pin at 6:41. Shawn makes his first appearance now, but quickly gets caught in the heel corner. Tag to Morrison who comes in with a double team slingshot elbow. He then tags JBL who’s in with a neckbreaker and some elbows for 2. Shawn fights back, but he’s still in the wrong corner. Tag to Miz who drops a leg for 2. Some punches to the face get another 2 count as Shawn’s eye has been bloodied up and they actually make reference to Jericho’s match with Shawn at the Great American Bash. Tag to Morrison who comes in with still more punches and then he tosses Shawn, but Shawn skins the cat back in. He sends Morrison off, but Morrison comes back off with Shawn’s flying forearm, and then he kips up. He gets a slam and goes up, but Shawn avoids his own flying elbow. Tags are made to Miz and Rey. Rey leaps in with a vertical press, followed by a springboard rana, a springboard dropkick, 619 and top rope splash to eliminate Miz at 11:46. Morrison in right in, but gets tripped and setup into 619 position, but he’s close enough for JBL to steal the tag, come in, and nails Rey with a shoulderblock. He then hits a boot to the head and some elbows for 2. He starts working over Rey’s back now. Tag to Morrison who holds Rey in a backbreaker. Rey escapes and tries his bulldog, but Morrison counters that to another backbreaker. Tag to JBL who briefly goes to an abdominal stretch. He then gets Rey on the top rope and sets up a suplex, but Rey elbows out and comes off with a moonsault. Rey tags Shawn who gets his flying forearm, and give a crotch chop to Morrison for old time’s sake. He then uses an inverted atomic drop and goes up, but Morrison provides enough of a distraction to allow JBL to roll out. After taking care of Morrison, Shawn dives on to JBL and they fight on the floor. JBL is able to avoid Sweet Chin Music, but the count continues and only Shawn beats it. JBL is counted out at 17:55. Morrison comes from behind for his version of SCM, but Shawn ducks it, gets the real thing and pins Morrison to end it at 18:14. Survivors are Shawn Michaels, Rey Mysterio, Jr., and Great Khali. Good effort all around as the guys who can work carried this thing while the guys who couldn’t weren’t in long enough to drag it down. *** If I’m booking though, I let Morrison shine a bit at the end by lasting at least a few minutes in spite of the 3 on 1 odds and maybe even give him a token elimination. And why the hell is MVP getting buried worse and worse every week?
WWE Divas Champion Michelle McCool, Maryse, Victoria, Natalya, & Maria vs. WWE Women’s Champion Beth Phoenix (w/Santino Marella), Mickie James, Jillian Hall, Candice Michelle, & Kelly Kelly
This is set up as being the Raw Divas against the Smackdown Divas, which means you get the awkward situation of heels and faces teaming up, although it’s not like anyone cares about that for this match. Beth and McCool start out with Beth in control using a wristlock. McCool counters to a headscissors takedown and then gets a dropkick, but Maryse steals the tag. Indeed the perils of heels and faces teaming does come into play as McCool and Maryse go at it now with the teammates having to break it up. So Maryse finally gets in with Beth, but now Maria steals the tag. Beth immediately gets her in a chokeslam, but misses a charge and that allows Maria to get a headscissors takedown. Obviously they teach all the women the same stuff. Kelly steals the tag from Beth and comes in with a sunset flip for 1, followed by a backslide for 1 as well. Victoria steals the tag (Yay for teamwork!), but immediately gets taken down by Kelly with a rana for 3 at 2:56. What a waste of one of the few of them who can actually wrestle. Maryse is in now and Kelly gets that rana again, but only for 2 this time, and Maryse then gets a spinning backbreaker for 3 at 3:24 to even things up. Mickie, who is far and away the most popular of all the divas, comes in for the Raw team with a Thesz press, but hits elbow on a corner whip. Maryse tags McCool and she and Mickie actually go into a bit of a sloppy wrestling sequence with McCool bridging out of a pinning attempt, and then doing it again out of a northern lights suplex. Mickie tries a crucifix, but McCool counters to a Russian legsweep for 1. Irish whip, but Mickie holds on and comes back with a short clothesline for 1, but Maria makes the save. McCool lets Maria know she’s not impressed, but that lets Mickie come up and get an implant DDT to eliminate her at 5:09. Beth starts taunting McCool on the floor as she walks out, which distracts Mickie and that gives Maryse the chance to roll her up for 3 at 5:27. The crowd boos the elimination of their favourite, which is about the biggest reaction they had for this one so far. The match means nothing, so I don’t get why they don’t just put over their most popular girl. Candice is in now and Maryse tags Natalya. Natalya gets a waistlock takedown, but Candice reverses and gets a 2 count. Next, Natalya goes to the Sharpshooter, which is the only other thing besides Mickie to get a reaction here, but Jillian breaks it up. Candice then spears Natalya and rolls her up for 3 at 7:18. Maria and Jillian go now with Jillian hitting a Samoan drop for 2. Corner whip sets up a handspring elbow, but Maria comes back with a victory roll to eliminate Jillian at 7:45. Candice then immediately finishes Maria off with a northern lights suplex at 7:57. Maryse attacks and hooks Candice in a sort of figure four which she submits to at 8:31. It wasn’t clear that she gave up and indeed the announcers don’t even realize it until Candice starts walking to the back. This leaves Maryse and Beth. Maryse makes a go of it, nailing a nice high kick for 1. She gets caught coming off the 2nd rope, but still slips out and gets a rollup for 2. But Beth has had enough and just finishes her off with the Glam Slam at 9:41. Survivor: Beth Phoenix. This was sloppy for the most part and very rushed with pins coming from nowhere. ½* They must be high on Maryse because even though she lost in the end, she did get three of the eliminations for her team.
At this point we get an emotional Matt Hardy interview in which he explains that Jeff was attacked from behind at the hotel and that Matt spent all night in the hospital with him.
Casket Match: Big Show vs. The Undertaker
Third PPV in a row for these guys, and the second in a row with a gimmick should finally bring this one to an end. Are they really so creatively bankrupt that they can’t figure out how to do a feud spanning more than one month without having the guys face each other at every PPV? Taker asks for the casket to be opened right away in an effort to intimidate Show. Show gets some bodyshots to start, but Taker ducks the Big One and pushes Show over the top, but Show avoids the casket. They fight outside where Taker is whipped to the barrier and rammed to the table. He keeps working Taker over as he preps the ECW table, which is becoming the whipping boy table like the Spanish one used to be. Taker comes back by nailing him with a monitor. He drapes Show on the table and connects with a legdrop from the other table to break it. Back in the ring, Taker tries Old School, but Show stops it and suplexes him off the ropes. Corner whip leads to a side slam and he rolls Taker in the casket, but asks the referees to close it instead of doing it himself as the rules dictate. When he finally summons the guts to try, Taker blocks it and fires back. Irish whip is reversed, but Taker ducks and comes back off with the flying clothesline. He then gets a corner clothesline, but an attempt at a second one sees him run into an elbow. Show sets up something from the 2nd rope, but gets chokeslammed off. Taker boots him into the casket, but Show blocks the closing of the lid. He gets out and hits the chokeslam, but instead of going for the win, he flips the casket over and goes to walk away. A wall of fire (come on) blocks his exit as Taker chases and they brawl in the aisle. The Druids bring out the emergency backup casket and put it on the stage. Show throws Taker into the set, then sets the casket on end and throws Taker into it too. The casket gets set on end again and opened, but Taker fights back. He nearly knocks Show off the stage, but instead throws Show to the casket so that it tips over and the lid closes giving Taker the win at 12:45. Now that’s gotta end it. Three matches in this feud, and they got progressively worse as they went along. *
Next we get a stupid waste of time skit featuring the Colons, the Bellas, Charlie Haas, and the Boogeyman as the Gobbledy Gooker. I don’t mind talk or backstage segments on PPV’s if they add to the show or advance some angles, but this was nothing more than a waste of time.
Dave Batista, R-Truth, World Tag Team Champion CM Punk, World Tag Team Champion Kofi Kingston, & ECW Champion Matt Hardy vs. Randy Orton, Cody Rhodes (w/Manu), United States Champion Shelton Benjamin, Intercontinental Champion William Regal (w/Layla), & Mark Henry (w/Tony Atlas)
Punk charges right at Regal with a knee in the corner and then gets the GTS to eliminate him at 0:12. Apparently Regal got sick on the recent European tour so they got him out of here ASAP. Shelton comes in with a rollup for 2, but Punk comes back and gets him to the corner where he tags Kofi. Kofi’s one of my favourites right now and it’s good to see him back on PPV. He gets a forearm for 2, but then gets sent off with Shelton trying a hiptoss, which Kofi counters to a monkey flip, but Shelton lands on his feet. Kofi then gets a dropkick for 2, but Shelton nails him and tags Henry. Henry hammers away for a bit and tags Rhodes. Kofi slips out of a slam attempt and gets another monkey flip followed by an armdrag and tags Hardy. Hardy gets a standing elbow and drops another one for 1 before tagging Truth. They get a double whip and double hiptoss for 2. Truth then tags Batista which causes Rhodes to run away. He then comes back and tags Shelton, who holds his own with Batista for a bit until running into an elbow and boot to the face. Suplex gets 2 for Batista and then he tags Hardy. Shelton gets the elbow up on a corner whip and tags Orton who gets a big positive reaction. In my No Mercy review a while back, while talking about the talk segment with Orton and MVP, I mentioned that I felt Orton was outshone there. I stand by my assessment of that, but it just goes to show that if the company wants you to be a star (like with Orton), you’re gonna be a star, and if they couldn’t care less about you (like with MVP), the fans won’t care either. Orton has recently received an almost unprecedented level of protection in the booking. Everyone, even his supposed allies, is booked to respectfully fear him. Nobody ever gets the better of him, or makes a fool out if him. He does what he wants, and others are powerless to stop him. His finishers are put over as deadly. He has gained this aura about him without ever really showing me more charisma then half the guys on the roster have, without developing more than about average mic skills, and while he’s a good worker, I don’t think he’s even close to being at an elite level. Like it or not, the Age of Orton really is here and it’ll be here as long as WWE wants it to be, provided they don’t screw it up of course, which is always a strong possibility. Back to the match now with Hardy getting a clothesline and a bulldog. Bodyslam is next and Hardy goes up, but he misses a moonsault allowing Orton to tag Henry. He slingshots Hardy into the ropes and gets 1, then tags Rhodes. Corner whip is reversed with Hardy nailing a clothesline and both guys make the tags to Shelton and Truth. Truth blocks a hiptoss and gets his own for 2, followed by a crescent kick also for 2. He gets a dropkick, but misses an ax kick which allows Shelton to hit Paydirt for 3 at 7:40. Kofi comes in with a high bodypress for 2, followed by a dropkick and his funky double legdrop for a close 2. Henry nails Kofi from the apron and gets the tag from Shelton. He stands on Kofi for a bit before tagging Orton who gets another good reaction. They cut to a shot of Batista here and he’s got a look on his face that says he’s not looking forward to getting booed out of the building in this feud. Orton uses a Garvin Stomp, but misses a kneedrop. Kofi fires back but gets caught and dropped on the top rope. Orton then connects with a DDT for the pin at 10:46. Punk attack Orton and gets a kneelift, followed by a spinkick for 2. He puts his head down on an Irish whip and gets kicked which allows the tag to Rhodes. Rhodes hits a dropkick and gets a drop toehold into a hammerlock. Punk comes back getting a crossbody for 2 and a neckbreaker for another 2. Running knee in the corner sets up a bulldog, but that only gets 2 as well. Punk goes up, but Manu provides the distraction which allows Rhodes to shove him off and finish the guy who was World Champion only 2 months ago with a DDT at 13:11. Hardy comes in with a Side Effect for 2, but Rhodes elbows out of a second try and tags Henry. Matt goes to the 2nd rope, but gets caught with the World’s Strongest Slam coming off and gets pinned at 14:23. I guess that feud will keep going. This leaves Big Dave all alone against four guys, but he immediately spears Henry and pins him at 14:33. Not that anyone believes the ECW Title is at the level of the other two, but of Henry is challenging again, that won’t help it. Shelton gives it a go now, but takes a clothesline, spinebuster, and Batista Bomb for 3 at 15:07. Rhodes is next and runs right into a big boot. He then takes a clothesline coming off the 2nd rope and a powerslam. Batista sets up the Batista Bomb, but is too close to the corner so Orton can steal the tag. Batista hits the move, but the ref won’t count since Rhodes isn’t legal. Orton then sneaks in and hits the RKO to pin Batista at 16:14. Survivors: Randy Orton and Cody Rhodes. Like the opener, this was a good solid all around effort, but I did like it a bit better than that one so I’ll go ***1/2.
WWE Championship Match: Triple H vs. Vladimir Kozlov
They make the bait and switch official here by informing us that Jeff is out and this will therefore be one on one. I know I mention a lot that I hate Triple Threat matches, which I do, but it’s still wrong to advertise one of your top babyfaces in a main event match that you have no intention of delivering. This entire angle could have easily been done without Jeff having been added to the match, which makes it even worse in my eyes. Kozlov starts with a waistlock takedown, which HHH then counters to a side headlock. He holds that for a bit before Kozlov escapes. The crowd, already vocal about the lack of Jeff Hardy here is not impressed with the match they’re getting instead either. Kozlov gets an armdrag to an armbar, but HHH counters to a hammerlock and drives the knee in. Kozlov counters to a fireman’s carry, but HHH gets right back to the hammerlock. Kozlov breaks, but misses a charge and gets put in an armbar. He gets out of that as the crowd is pretty much crapping all over this one. Irish whip by Kozlov is reversed and HHH gets the high knee followed by a couple of corner clotheslines. Kozlov reverses an Irish whip, but puts the head down and takes a facebuster followed by a DDT. Some punches to the face get 2 for HHH as the crowd chants “TNA”. Well Vladimir, I hope you enjoyed your brief time at main event status, because you won’t be back ever again. He gets the boot up on a corner whip, but charges and runs into a spinebuster. Pedigree is blocked and Kozlov gets a battering ram. HHH wins a slugfest, but still gets whipped to the corner and sent to the floor. Kozlov rams his back to the apron and barrier and then gets him back in. Fallaway slam gets 2 as does a powerslam. He goes to a bearhug, and then gets a backbreaker for 2. Second one also gets 2 and then he goes back to the bearhug. I can appreciate some mat wrestling and it does have its time and place, but this crowd was expecting to see Jeff Hardy at this point. It’s like they wanted to piss the crowd off or something. HHH gets out of the hold, but runs into a powerslam for 2. Back to the bearhug again, but HHH breaks. Kozlov gets a belly to belly suplex, but misses a charge and HHH is able to hit the Pedigree. Both guys are out and here’s Vickie Guerrero to announce that we will have a Triple Threat after all, but the third man will be… the returning from Hell Edge. He charges in and spears HHH, but now Jeff Hardy runs out, not looking anything like a guy who spent all night in the hospital and attacks Edge. It’s expected that it will be revealed that Edge was behind the attack at the hotel to explain this. Jeff grabs a chair, but Edge ducks the shot and it hits HHH instead. Jeff the takes out Kozlov before getting speared himself. Edge then covers HHH and gets the 3 count to win the WWE Title at 14:22. Well, that was a good surprise ending if nothing else. The bulk of the match which was the HHH/Kozlov portion could be described at best as being rather mediocre, but the crowd attitude drops it several notches and I can’t blame them at all for it. The last minute got the crowd pumped again and kinds redeems a match that was bordering on negative stars to the point where I’ll give it *. I guess the logic is that Jeff had already failed to win the Title from HHH enough times, so they needed a new guy for him to fail against.
Main Event, World Heavyweight Championship Match: Chris Jericho vs. John Cena
The return has been well built up but I really hope that Cena isn’t sacrificing years off the back end of his career so that he can come back several months earlier than he should now. Especially considering it’s his second surgery in the span of a year. Cena goes for the FU right off the bat, but Jericho bails. Back in, a shoulderblock by Jericho sends Cena to the floor clutching his neck. He charges back in with some punches and gets a suplex for 2. Drop toehold is next, but Jericho avoids the STFU. Jericho connects with some kicks to the neck, but his Irish whip is reversed and he gets hit with a clothesline. Cena then gets a slam and drops an elbow for 1. Charge to the corner misses and allows Jericho to stomp the neck some more. He sends Cena off, but Cena comes back with the Throwback and goes up. But then, in a nice little bit of storytelling, he rethinks it and climbs back down since that’s how he hurt himself in the first place. Jericho kicks him coming back in and gets a double arm DDT for 2. He then lines Cena’s head up with the post and kicks it from the floor. This puts Cena down with the ref counting, but he makes it back in the ring at 9. Cena gets tossed again with Jericho hitting a dropkick on the floor and sending him to the stairs. Slingshot splash back in gets 2 and now he goes to twist the neck. Cena gets up and powers out, but Jericho avoids a shoulderblock and gets 2. He keeps on the neck now with a full nelson. Cena manages to break it, but Jericho gets it right back on. He breaks it again and now Jericho tries the bulldog, but Cena throws him off to the corner. Two shoulderblocks hit, but Jericho flips out of the Protobomb and now gets the bulldog. Lionsault misses, but Jericho lands on his feet. Cena ducks the next shot and this time gets the Protobomb. He goes for the Five Knuckle Shuffle, but Jericho is up, grabs the legs and hooks the Walls of Jericho. He actually does it old school style too holding Cena in a near vertical position and driving the knee to the neck. Cena powers out, but gets clotheslined. Jericho reapplies the Walls, in the now normal Boston crab style. No one notes the irony of doing the move right here in Boston though. Cena powers his way to the ropes for the break. Jericho charges and gets hit with the FU, but Cena delays in going for the cover and only gets 2. They get to the corner and fight on the ropes. Jericho gets shoved off and now Cena has the confidence to go up. He hits the top rope legdrop, but the FU is blocked and Jericho hits the Codebreaker. That only gets 2 though so Jericho measures him for a big clothesline. He then gets a second one, but the third is countered to a drop toehold into the STFU. Jericho is about to make the ropes, so Cena lets go to drag him back, but that lets Jericho catch him with a kick. He gets a small package on Cena for 2, but Cena then picks him up, hoists him on the shoulders and hits the FU. That gets 3 and gives Cena the World Heavyweight Championship at 21:21. Very good match, although I think they’re cheapening the title by having yet another change so soon. In the review of the Jericho/Batista cage match I did, I went off on the lack of pre-planning and that’s a major symptom right there. ***3/4
Well, only six matches here and with three of them hitting *** or higher, but nothing cracking ****, I think I can safely call it a thumbs in the middle. The tag matches are good harmless fun, and while there are some wasted opportunities there, that doesn’t take away from them too much. Main is, as I said, very good and a nice way to cap off the show. The rest was pretty much crap aside from a nice surprise ending to an otherwise awful Smackdown Title match. The bait and switch leaves a bad taste in the mouth although I personally will survive because I’m not that big of a Jeff Hardy fan anyways, but it definitely could be a big black mark for others. By this point they should be starting to tease the directions they’re going for Wrestlemania, but there wasn’t much done in that regard. I’m thinking they’re gonna go with Cena/Batista II, but by that point there’s a reasonable chance Batista will be a heel. So unless they switch the belt again it would be Cena defending, and likely retaining under that scenario. I had also penciled in Orton/Austin should Austin be wrestling on the show, but by that point there’s a reasonable chance that Orton will be a face and you don’t want that dynamic for Austin’s comeback. The Smackdown Title has no clear direction and that more than likely means a multiway match with at the very least Edge/HHH/Hardy and maybe one more. Anyways, nothing must see here on this show, so if you missed it, it’s no big deal and there’s no real need to go out of your way to catch it.