Written by: Scrooge McSuck
– Originally presented LIVE on the WWE Network (and PPV) on November 22nd, 2015 (25th Anniversary of the Undertaker’s debut… allegedly). From the Phillips Arena in Atlanta, GA, with Michael Cole, Jerry “The King”” Lawler, and JBL at ringside to call all the action unless otherwise noted, and Renee Young, Booker T, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton as the scripted panel of experts.
Traditional 5-on-5 Survivor Series Elimination Match:
Neville, The Dudley Boyz, Titus O’Neil, and Goldust vs. The Miz, Bo Dallas, Stardust, and the Ascension:
The unadvertised Kickoff Match, which means Ziggler vs. Breeze gets bumped to the main show. What a collection of geeks… and yes, Goldust is back, and gets a pretty solid pop because he always gets a decent reaction after a lengthy absence. Apparently Cesaro was supposed to be involved, but is being replaced by Titus O’Neil. Hopefully he’s not seriously hurt. Goldust and Stardust start… for about 30-seconds. Viktor tags in, runs right into Goldust’s Snap Powerslam, and is eliminated at the 37-second mark. Konnor goes next at 6:01, via a weird looking Rock Bottom from Bubba Ray. Neville eats a Bo-Dog and Skull Crushing Finale to find himself back in the dressing room at 9:45. Goldust sneaks in and rolls up Miz for the three count at 9:59. Lots of nothing happens, as we squeeze in a second commercial break. Titus eventually gets the big hot tag and cleans house of Miz and Dallas, eventually finishing Bo off with the Clash of the Titus at 18:52. Stardust is left alone, but not for long, as the 3D ends his night at 19:47, leaving the entire team with the exception of Neville as the Survivors. *1/2 Just a Survivor Series Match for the sake of having one.
Roman Reigns vs. Alberto Del Rio (w/ Zeb Colter):
We’re honestly opening the PPV with this? I would’ve expected them to go with Ambrose vs. Owens, but with the Semi-Finals being incredibly predictable, I guess it doesn’t matter too much. Roman Reigns path to the Semi-Finals included the 400-pound ape known as the Big Show, as well as a 4-star encounter with the Swiss Superman, Cesaro. Alberto Del Rio got so-so matches with undercard geeks like Stardust and Kalisto. Not exactly a balanced field, if you ask me. Oh yeah, and Del Rio is the US “MexAmerican”” Champion, but who cares, he’s doing the job tonight. I have to say, since he came back, I do like his offense consisting on realistic strikes and not much else, but at the same time, this isn’t MMA. I wouldn’t mind the occasional contrived wrestling move and lucha spot, especially when working matches longer than 3-4 minutes. Reigns spent most of the match selling, which does him little favor. They find themselves into a situation that allows Del Rio to go for his Double Stomp of Doom, but Reigns somehow avoids it. He goes for the Spear, but eats a Super-Kick for a near fall. Del Rio starts targeting the arm for the Cross Arm-Breaker, but Reigns counters it with a Powerbomb. Del Rio goes for it again, but this time Reigns puts him away with the Spear at 15:24. **1/2 Decent opener, but as always with Tournaments and predictable outcomes, I wasn’t into this one too much, and was surprised at how much time this got.
Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens:
Owens is still the reigning Intercontinental Champion, but since we’re still running through a Tournament, all other Championships remain unimportant. These two have wrestled so many times over the last few months, I’ve actually started to get bored by this combination. They just had a so-so match on Smackdown, so I expected them to really deliver on the PPV. The path to this encounter, for those who forgot: Dean Ambrose went over Tyler Breeze in the 1st Round and Dolph Ziggler in the Quarter-Finals, while Kevin Owens got a similarly difficult path with the likes of Titus O’Neil and Neville. Hard hitting offense with a fair share of counters and reversals. I always love when Owens screams at the referee to ask if his opponent gives up from a standard chinlock. Early near falls from Owens with the Cannonball and a running senton splash. Owens comes off the top rope, missing a moonsault (yup, you read that one right). They slug it out on the top rope until Owens gets the better of the exchange and connects with a brutal Fisherman Buster. Ambrose mounts his comeback, but gives chase one too many times and pays for it. Owens with the Super-Kick, Ambrose tries to spring off the ropes, but runs into a second Super-Kick instead of hitting the clothesline. Whip to the ropes, Ambrose avoids the Pop-Up Powerbomb, and Dirty Deeds sends Ambrose to the finals at 12:24. *** Good match, but after seeing the same match over and over again makes one lose interest, regardless of the quality. I’m sure others enjoyed this more than me, and I wouldn’t argue their opinion.
Traditional 5-on-5 Survivor Series Elimination Match:
Ryback, The Lucha Dragons, and the Usos vs. The New Day, King Barrett, and Sheamus:
In a sign of how thin the roster has become, I managed to pick, in advance, the participants of the unannounced match and was accused of cheating by looking it up, even though it was never advertised. The sad part about that last line is that it was probably the highlight of the match. Yes, I’m being serious about that one. For those who forgot, the New Day are still the reigning Tag Team Champions (thank goodness they weren’t passed along to the Dudley Boyz). Xavier Woods shows off a funky new hairdo and Sheamus proves how white he is by being a complete goof. At least we didn’t get an elimination 30-seconds in like with the Kickoff Match. To the surprise of nobody, Wade Barrett does the first job, laying down for Sin Cara following a senton splash at 8:36. Jimmy Uso goes next at 10:25 following what looked like Xavier Woods giving him the coup de grace while being held over the shoulders of Kofi. Sheamus eliminated Sin Cara with the Brogue Kick at 11:53. Big E. is gone soon after, courtesy a Jey Uso Splash at 12:49. Woods and Kofi complain about the elimination and insist Big E needs medical assistance, and decide to ditch the match at an unofficial time of 14:00. This leaves Sheamus 3-on-1, because putting the heel in the role of an underdog babyface is of course an excellent idea. He tries his best, but eventually succumbs to a triple team effort from Jey Uso, Kalisto, and Ryback, ending with the Shell-Shock at 19:29. *1/2 Total filler, and mostly an uninteresting chore to sit through. This show would’ve been better off had this match just been left on the cutting room floor.
WWE Divas Championship Match:
Charlotte (c) vs. Paige:
We all know the build-up to this one: WWE doesn’t feel the crowd cares for Charlotte, so they come up with the idea to use the death of her brother, Reid, as a way to get cheap heat. Then decided to throw Charlotte under the bus when the heat came in and everyone either didn’t care for the segment or was incredibly offended by it. Instead of starting a heated feud (just go with it) with a lockup, Charlotte tried to muscle Paige to the ground, but Paige desperately fought her way to the ropes to escape. They threw a lot of forearms and punches, most of them looking at least passable, but damn does Charlotte get zero sound on her chops. Most of the match was spent on the ground, slowing things down to a pace where fans could at least get comfortable. Always nice to see the spot Charlotte used where she grabs a front head-scissors and pounds Paige head-first into the canvas over and over again. Charlotte got a Figure-Four applied, but Paige fought off the effort to make it a Figure-Eight and rolls into the ropes, but Charlotte holds on for a few seconds longer, hanging from the apron. They do a spot off the security rail where Charlotte was meant to do a spear, but in the end, it just came across as them two falling off. Back in the ring, Charlotte with the Figure-Eight, and after a long delay and effort to make it to the ropes, Paige tapped out at 15:51. ***1/4 At times, Charlotte’s offense looked a bit too loose, but they worked a smarter style relying mostly on wrestling on the mat and exchanging the occasional big move. Maybe it was a bit too long, but it was a good move in the right direction.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Tyler Breeze (w/ Summer Rae):
This was originally advertised for the Kickoff Show, but got moved to the PPV instead for reasons unknown. This is Tyler’s PPV debut, but based on his NXT TakeOver performances, this is NOT a guarantee he will win. Ziggler comes out dressed like a sad, pathetic never-was Rocker straight out of a 1980’s hair band. You know what I love? Vince McMahon giving the greenlight to a gimmick that is a commentary on millennials, but pushing him for it, despite Vince’s infamous comments on Austin’s Podcast about how millennials don’t reach for the brass ring. Even though Ziggler is usually popular and PPV crowds would be more familiar with an NXT act like Breeze, this was pretty dead when it comes to crowd reactions. They put on a decent match, something that would make for a good TV match, but that’s it. We got a few good spots and a series of near falls, but that’s pretty much it. I would bring up what a drop in the card Ziggler did from last year’s Survivor Series to this one, but let’s be honest: he only got the spot last year because Roman Reigns was hurt. Breeze avoided a Super-Kick, kicked the leg from under Ziggler, and finished him with the Unprettier at 7:19. At least it’s a better finisher than a spinning heel kick. ** Nothing to get excited about, but at least they put Breeze over clean.
The Undertaker & Kane vs. The Wyatt Family:
Nice of the Undertaker to let his “brother”” piggy-back his spectacular 25th Anniversary in the WWE, having debuted on November 22nd, 1990 at the 4th Survivor Series, squashing Koko B. Ware and scoring a clean pinfall over Dusty Rhodes in the process. Before the match begins, Rowan rushes the ring and eats a Double Chokeslam, officially eliminating him as a legal participant. The verdict is in, and we have Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper competing. The match basically breaks down into these scenarios: Undertaker looks great using Harper as his punching bag for the signature spots, and Kane is used to give Wyatt something to do, but not without some illegal help from the ever-present Braun Strong Man. In case you couldn’t guess it by the previews, even with the two best (or only good) workers of the Wyatt’s involved, the match is very sluggish. Yeah, Kane and Taker do their signature spots, but both men are in the range of 50 and look it, both by just standing around, and when performing said spots. The highspot was Kane and Taker putting Strong Man through a table with a Double Chokeslam. Wyatt hit a desperation Sister Abigail, but the Undertaker and Kane both sit up from devastating finishers, and Undertaker puts away Harper with the Tombstone at 11:30. No post-match shenanigans, heel turns, or weird antics. Just the standard celebration of Undertaker and Kane. * Just a poorly booked match with the obvious finish: Undertaker and Kane destroying all four men and only giving so much offense in the process.
WWE World Heavyweight Championship Tournament Finals:
Roman Reigns vs. Dean Ambrose:
Nice touch for Ambrose to come to wrestle with the torn t-shirt he was wearing in his Semi-Finals match. I half-expected him to have a fresh black tank-top ready to go. The crowd is obviously in favor of Ambrose, but not by much… they feel a bit flat. Maybe putting them immediately after Undertaker isn’t the best move, especially when we seem to be running low on the usual allotted time for a PPV. The first thing I noticed about the match is how accelerated the match is progressing. We’re only a few minutes in, and we’ve already had the big slug-fest and an exchange of high impact offense. We get near falls off a half-hearted Spear from Reigns and Ambrose’s Dirty Deeds DDT. They start throwing blows again for a decent brawl, with Ambrose getting the upper-hand. He charges to the opposite corner, springs off the turnbuckle, and runs right into the Spear, and Reigns FINALLY wins his 1st WWE Championship at 9:58. Yeah, the Championship Finale on a PPV got less time than everything except the Pretty Boy Piss Break Match. They give each other kudos to keep both men baby-face, and the celebration is on. You’re no fooling me WWE, I remember SummerSlam 2013. Confetti starts falling, but I’m not. I know something is waiting to happen. Triple H shows up, has a tender moment with Roman, and eats a Spear… and then Sheamus shows up and hits the Brogue Kick out of nowhere. BRIEFCASE CASH-IN! Sheamus covers… for two! Holy crap, they aren’t going to screw Reigns over like they did Daniel Bryan, after all! Whip to the ropes, Reigns brushes past Sheamus… and runs into a second Brogue Kick. Sheamus covers for the one, two, three at :41 seconds, making Him the NEW WWE World Heavyweight Champion. The crowd collectively doesn’t give a crap. **1/2 The advertised match was something that felt like a great 20+ minute match trimmed down and crammed into a much smaller window of time, and it hurt my enjoyment. As for Sheamus going over… he just jobbed to three under-card nobodies in the least important match of the show. Now he’s the WWE Champion.
Final Thoughts: Wow, this was a pretty bad show. The wrestling wasn’t a bottom of the barrel worst, nor anywhere close to it, but a lot of the show under-performed, both from the quality of the in-ring action, but most importantly, from the creative department. Seriously, Sheamus is the WWE Champion, and guys like the Undertaker, Goldust, and the Dudley Boyz are being put over current crops of WWE talent, as if we were stuck in a weird time warp that sent us back to 2002 or something. Strong Recommendation to give Undertaker’s 25th Anniversary a Pass.