The finals of the WWE World Heavyweight Title tournament took place at the Survivor Series Pay Per View, and a new champion was crowned, in the form of Roman Reigns. However, his reign was short-lived, as Sheamus cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase to steal the title away, and align with The Authority in the process. Meanwhile, The Undertaker made an appearance on the 25th anniversary of his WWE debut, and Charlotte and Paige tried to put the drama of the past week behind them. If you missed Survivor Series, here’s the match results from the show. But we’ve also got in-depth analysis of what you need to know about what happened at Survivor Series, right here!
10. Take That, Terrorism!
You may have heard at some point over the weekend that a list of potential ISIS targets was released on the Internet, and WWE Survivor Series (more specifically, the arena where it was taking place) was on that list. Obviously, security was increased for the event, however, in the interest of preventing unnecessary panic, the FBI issued a statement that there were no credible sources suggesting any attack was being planned for the Pay Per View. And WWE, to their credit, did not do any over-the-top cringe-worthy macho posturing about the alleged threat, as some people might have expected. They did, however, make a point of televising Lilian Garcia singing the National Anthem. It was a simple statement of defiance in the face of potential terrorism, and did more for the cause than all the bravado-filled speeches, hyperbolic statements, and ridiculous potential wrestling gimmicks based on caricatures (because you know they thought about it) could have ever accomplished.
9. Del Rio’s Finisher Fails On Many Levels
The moment many fans have been waiting for finally arrived, as Alberto Del Rio was forced to attempt his ridiculous top rope finisher, which required his opponent to be placed in the overly complex Tree of Woe in the corner, on an opponent that both had no business being on the top rope as part of the set up for the move, and who was able to outsmart Del Rio by the simple method of not attempting to pull themselves up on the ropes into a position where Del Rio could jump on them. Given the fact that Del Rio has an arsenal of potential finishers, all of which required less preparation and could more realistically happen in the context of any match, giving him this horribly complicated and illogical maneuver was short-sighted at best, and hopefully now that it’s been shown to be easily defeated, perhaps he can go back to using what worked in the past.
8. Kevin Owens Yells At People A Lot
The reason why Kevin Owens is so effective as a heel is that Kevin Owens never misses an opportunity to remind you that he is a bad person. He blocks Sabrina the Teenage Witch on Twitter because she called him lazy, he mocks his detractors online and treats praise as if it was an insult (because he’s so great that it should go without saying, you see), and when he’s in a match with anyone, he spends every spare moment yelling. At his opponent, at the crowd, occasionally at Michael Cole (if anything could unite Owens and Ambrose, it might be their common desire to see Michael Cole kicked off the commentary desk), but Kevin Owens is always yelling something derogatory or insulting. Ever since the rise of the concept of the “cool heel” and the increasingly jaded attitude of wrestling fans, it has been hard to get fans to truly hate someone for being a bad guy. But Kevin Owens, despite being a respected and talented wrestler, shows that he’s never forgotten the core concept of being a heel: don’t give the fans an opportunity to cheer for anything you do. You’re the bad guy. They’re not supposed to like you, even one little bit. That’s why Kevin Owens is going to be a big deal in WWE for a long time to come.
7. The Tradition Limps On
In the end, there were two Survivor Series matches on the show, though neither was booked ahead of time. The first took place on the pre-show, featured a motley collection of wrestlers with nothing better to do, and was a vehicle for the return of Goldust, whose team dominated the match. The second happened on the PPV itself, and served the purpose of putting The New Day, currently WWE’s most entertaining act, on the show (and also establishing the presence of Sheamus and his briefcase for later). The issue is, both of these things could have been accomplished without actually having any Survivor Series elimination matches at all. The New Day are the WWE Tag Team Champions, after all, there are any number of teams that could have challenged them for the titles instead. And Goldust’s return could have happened as part of a simple singles match, on the pre-show or otherwise. The fact of the matter is, the concept of the Survivor Series match has become largely meaningless, and frankly, if WWE isn’t going to do the work to change that on a regular basis, it’s a match type that probably should be retired.
On the bright side, it did give us this:
6. The Divas Revolution Sucks, But Women’s Wrestling Does Not
The biggest problem with the introduction of the controversy involving Reid Flair into the Divas title story line is that it completely overshadowed the fact that Charlotte and Paige are two excellent wrestlers and the match at Survivor Series was a fresh one that we actually hadn’t seen in WWE before. For all the branding and back-patting about the Divas Revolution, the ultimate point of it all was that we were going to get to see women’s wrestling treated as if it was as legitimate as the male side of the business, including lengthy Pay Per View-quality matches between women who were actually trained to wrestle well. That’s what we got out of Charlotte and Paige this Sunday, a brutal fight as technically proficient as anything the men of WWE did at Survivor Series. Unfortunately, all anyone was talking about leading up to the show was yet another poor attempt by WWE to court controversy at the expense of good storytelling.
5. Passing The HBK Torch
Every few years, another pretty-boy wrestler with good abilities and great hair comes along and makes the females in the audience squeal a little louder. Inevitably, that wrestler, if he works hard enough and finds a fan base, will be slapped with the label of “the next Heartbreak Kid”. It’s a title that has been handed to stars like Jeff Hardy, John Morrison, and most recently, Dolph Ziggler. Last night, the announce team took that label from Ziggler (ironically, Dolph has been increasing his HBK-like qualities lately, including lifting the setup for Sweet Chin Music) and assigned it to Tyler Breeze. The problem is, as Shawn Michaels said himself, WWE shouldn’t be so concerned with finding the “next HBK” as they should be with making the first Tyler Breeze. Breeze has the tools, the skills, and the character to be a memorable player in the future, but weighing him down with the legacy of Shawn Michaels does him a disservice, and will inevitably stunt his growth as a Superstar. If WWE leans too hard on trying to turn him into another Shawn Michaels, they run the risk of turning Breeze into the next Fandango instead.
4. Bray Wyatt Can’t Win
All right, it was the 25th anniversary of The Undertaker’s WWE debut, as much as it would have been nice to actually give The Wyatt Family a big, career-changing win and reinvigorate their characters, it was never going to happen. The problem is, this keeps happening to Bray Wyatt, who’s supposed to be one of the future building blocks of WWE. He puts in his work, he cuts big promos about how he’s going to change things around here, and then he loses. Bray Wyatt has almost no convincing wins since his debut, and even when he wins single matches, he ultimately loses the war, often convincingly. For whatever reason, WWE has adopted the mindset that losing against top stars is just as good as actually beating them in terms of getting new acts over, but they’re wrong. Bray Wyatt fails every time. Even beating Ryback earlier this year didn’t have any lasting effect (Ryback was Intercontinental Champion two weeks later, at a PPV that Wyatt did not even appear on). Wrestling is a morality play, and evil is always supposed to be overcome in the end. But when evil loses repeatedly in the opening act and is treated like a minor speed bump for the heroes, did they really overcome anything worthwhile? The lack of strong new babyfaces in WWE can be directly tied to the fact that all the heels are bumbling, weak, and ineffective. They had another chance to fix that with Bray Wyatt this Sunday. They did not.
3. The Fight’s Over?
We’ve seen the argument for the sudden finish to the main event being an issue of time, which led to a rushed match that stopped in the middle of the action when Reigns hit a Spear literally out of nowhere for the win. And to that we say. wasn’t that the whole point of moving Pay Per Views to the WWE Network? That time wouldn’t be an issue? They ran NXT: Takeover Brooklyn nearly forty minutes long just because they could, after all. Now, obviously, despite most people moving to the Network, there are still a significant number of traditional PPV buys every month, and that leaves WWE semi-beholden to the cable companies’ time limits. That’s fair. But the show still ended nearly fifteen minutes before the hour! There was time to be had! And if it was really that much of a time crunch, couldn’t they have cut the meaningless Breeze-Ziggler match? Sure, it’s disappointing for fans of Tyler Breeze, but it’s not like they’d have cut a classic match based on a long-running blood feud. It was literally a quick match that wouldn’t have been out of place on Raw and probably could have just happened tonight instead. As a result of this poor time management, we got a main event that could have been good, but instead felt like half of a match that got cut off before it had the chance to get going.
2. The Crowd Goes Mild
It needs to be said that the Atlanta crowd for Survivor Series was clearly only there to see The Undertaker, because that’s the only match that seemed to spark anything resembling a decent reaction. Fair play to The Undertaker, and nobody’s giving WWE a free pass for the terribly dull and borderline incompetent booking leading up to the Pay Per View, but while the fans were sitting on their hands, they missed some pretty good matches. Both semi-final matches were above average, with one showing what Del Rio can do if motivated and also showing that Reigns could hold up his end of a main event match at this point (provided he’s in there with a superior worker), and the other making an excellent case for more matches between Kevin Owens and Dean Ambrose. The Survivor Series match, while (inexcusably) not booked ahead of the show, was actually a pretty good exhibition of talent and also pretty fun, plus it had The New Day. And with the controversy of last week’s Raw being pointedly ignored, the women went out and had the good match we knew they were capable of. The only problem was, the fans in the arena were quiet as church mice for 90% of the show, and it really hurt the atmosphere. Come on, people, we all say we want more good wrestling, we need to react when we see it happening.
1. The Great White Nope
So, here’s the issue. WWE wants Roman Reigns to be their big babyface, and while the crowds still aren’t treating him like he is one, they’re going to treat him like one until the audience gives up and accepts it. And WWE did the right thing by having Roman Reigns win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Survivor Series. It was entirely predictable, but absolutely the correct plan. Reigns needed the win after coming so close in the past, in order to avoid being seen as a choke artist. In addition, with so much top talent out, Reigns would have been basically unopposed on top of the mountain, forcing fans to at least react to him in some way. Plus, because Seth Rollins’ injury leaves WWE light on main event heels, you always have that option if fans refuse to get behind him. Hey, it worked for his cousin. But instead, we’ve got Sheamus, who hasn’t been treated like anything important (in fact, his presence earlier on the show involved getting mocked for being uncool and then abandoned by his teammates) and whom absolutely nobody wants to see as WWE World Heavyweight Champion, but he’s got a briefcase, The Authority needs a new guy to push around, and him cashing in lets WWE write an extra two months of story lines based around Roman continuing to chase the title to diminishing returns on fan reaction, so guess what happens? At this point, the people doing the most damage to Roman Reign’s future as a big star is the WWE Creative team. They had every possible creative option they could ask for headed into this Sunday, and they threw it out the window in favor of another Survivor Series Screwjob.