“Hello, everyone and Happy Thanksgiving. We are pleased to present to you one of the most prestigious events ever put together in the history of professional wrestling. Now, I know that you’re all full of it – Thanksgiving turkey, the dressing, the cranberry sauce, the apple pie – so just settle back in your favorite chair, because for the next three hours, you’ll be royally entertained by the superstars of the World Wrestling Federation.” – Gorilla Monsoon, November 26, 1987
Of the four big wrestling pay-per-views from the times before the WWE began putting on a show every third week, Survivor Series is always seen as being the runt of the litter. Wrestlemania is the grandest stage of them all. The Royal Rumble is the year’s most unpredictable and fun match, setting the course for the Road to Wrestlemania. Summerslam is considered to be the secondary Wrestlemania, taking place on the other side of the year. But Survivor Series? It’s just a gimmick show and only sometimes. It isn’t the place for the big closure-based showdowns. It isn’t where you’d usually choose to show off the climax to the biggest storyline of the year. There was even talk of ending the show completely for a while because the WWE brass consider it obsolete.
I decided to entertain the idea of doing a Survivor Series list the same way I covered the Royal Rumble matches and Wrestlemanias. It was an idea at first that I figured I would go with on a trial basis. If I wasn’t feeling it, I’d stop. The opposite happened. I really started to find that, yes, Survivor Series really does have its place in the WWE PPV pantheon. There are distinct advantages to the whole elimination match concept that really adds to the overall product that shouldn’t be discarded for the sake of another basic list of single matches that you can get at any generic PPV.
For the next eleven days, I’ll be counting down from the worst to the best. I’ll explain how I figured out the rankings in tomorrow’s update. I did find the research of this list more enjoyable than the Wrestlemania one. Wrestlemanias are so iconic and memorable that watching the shows gives you nothing new, as everything is written in stone by its importance. Survivor Series doesn’t have that to me. I’ve seen a good amount of these shows before, but there were some years where I flat-out skipped it and only read the results.
It really brings a level of fun surprise mixed with nostalgia when the shows start up. Whether it’s a show I’ve only heard about or haven’t seen in fifteen years, there’s a fun feeling when you go, “Oh, man! This is the Survivor Series with Chuck Norris doing absolutely nothing!” or, “This is the one where Orton’s team and Triple H’s team fight over who gets to control Raw for a month!”
Even with the lesser shows, I had a blast checking them out.
#23) SURVIVOR SERIES 1999
Date: November 14, 1999
Era: Attitude Era
Location: Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan
Known as: That one where Austin got run over by Rikishi
Elimination Matches: 3 out of 10
WWF head writer Vince Russo had just left the company for the competition, but you’d be hard pressed to notice it at times. One of the more notable storylines of the time involved the Big Show mourning his father while the Big Boss Man taunted him relentlessly about it for no reason other than being a total jerk. This included the infamous bit where Boss Man hijacked Show’s dad’s casket and dragged it away with his car and Big Show ended up bodysurfing his dead daddy’s coffin. Otherwise, the main event of the show was well-hyped, bringing us a Triple Threat between the three top wrestlers: Triple H, Steve Austin and the Rock. Unfortunately, things didn’t turn out as planned…
The intro is strictly huge hype for the big main event of Triple H vs. Austin vs. Rock with Vince as the special referee. Putting so much emphasis on such a big match that you don’t intend to give the fans is poor judgment. There’s nothing that good to speak of with the non-wrestling portions of the show. We get one of the condescending pre-taped Kurt Angle commercials, which is okay. X-Pac cuts a promo which has good words, but falls flat due to his lack of interest in what he’s saying. There’s some weird segment where Michael Cole gets dragged into the ladies’ locker room that had no bearing on anything. But the main story here is how the main event gets derailed.
Before the Rock can cut a promo, Triple H gets in his face and they start brawling. Later, Triple H does the same to Austin, which leads to Austin chasing him into a parking lot. A car turns on and runs him over, leading to a big emergency as medics and officials surround his hurt body. Vince freaks out, Jim Ross comes to check up on his friend and they spend far too long lingering on this situation when the fans could be seeing some wrestling that they paid for. Triple H defends himself and swears he had nothing to do with what happened and gets in a brief, amusing argument with Test over their giant noses. Shane McMahon makes it known that there will still be a Triple Threat Match to close out the show.
Also, one thing that bugs me about the show was the logo. The Survivor Series 99 logo is an octagon with a 1 in the middle. What does that mean? Does it signify something? Sole survivor? Stop when there’s one left? I don’t get it.
The opening contest is The Godfather, D’Lo Brown and The Headbangers (Mosh and Thrasher) vs. The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray and D-Von) and the Acolytes (Farooq and Bradshaw), where after Godfather gives his carbon copy promo, D’Lo walks out dressed as a pimp and the Headbangers walk out with afros. It’s totally worth it, just to see the Godfather rolling on the mat, laughing his ass off. When the Dudleys come in, Bubba Ray, still in his stuttering phase, asks Godfather if he’s going to offer him some hoes in return for forfeiting the match. Godfather’s response is, “N-N-NO!”
Now that all that politically incorrectness is out of the way, the match begins with Bubba Ray vs. Mosh. Bubba is quick to try a hair-pull, only to be dumbfounded when he’s holding an afro wig in his hands. He tags out to Bradshaw, who faces down Thrasher and it’s very one-sided. Bradshaw hits the Clothesline from Hell and pins him. D-Von faces Mosh and gets a blind tag to Bubba Ray when running across the ropes. Bubba enters and they hit Mosh with the Dudley Death Drop, finishing him off and making it four against two. Ah, yes. The company was getting around to dropping the Headbangers as a tag team completely by this point and it shows.
With two powerful tag teams together against a mere duo, it should be a straightforward victory. Instead, the distrust and dislike for the two heel teams begins to shine through. With D’Lo in the ring, he takes a second to knock Bradshaw off the ring apron. Bradshaw responds in kind by swiping a steel chair, getting in the ring and laying out D’Lo and Bubba. Bradshaw is disqualified and sent to the back. D-Von and Farooq argue over who’s going to pin D’Lo and it leads to a brawl that takes them out of the ring and into the back where they’re both counted out. Bubba tries for a pin, but D’Lo kicks out. D’Lo hits the Sky High Powerbomb, but it isn’t enough.
D’Lo places Bubba on the top rope, only his plans are for naught as Bubba turns it into a top-rope Bubba Bomb. D’Lo surprisingly kicks out! Both wobbly, they knock each other down with dueling clotheslines. D’Lo is able to tag in his lone partner, allowing Godfather (who hasn’t been in the match yet to this point) to perform his scant list of moves, ending with the Ho Train. D’Lo follows up with the Low Down and we have our survivors. Not a bad way to start the night at all.
The debuting Kurt Angle faces Shawn Stasiak and it isn’t pretty. To give the devil his due, Kurt Angle rose to the top pretty quickly as one of the most solid performers in the company and while he certainly has that kind of spark here, it isn’t enough. Truth is, he’s carrying the match in both wrestling and personality. Sure, Stasiak is a good choice in the sense of having someone who isn’t strictly a face or a heel in the minds of the crowd, but that’s all he has going for this. Angle has to take lead and he isn’t ready for it. Within twenty seconds, we already have a “BORING!” chant and soon after we have “LET’S GO REDWINGS!”
It’s your usual back and forth battle with nothing of note happening until Angle wakes the crowd up by getting out of the ring, stealing the microphone and proclaiming, “Do not boo an Olympic gold medalist!” Stasiak is able to hit a move looking very similar to the F5 and climbs to the top. He misses a crossbody, falls victim to the Angle Slam and is pinned. After the bell, Stasiak is back on his feet immediately, no-selling the shit out of that move.
We return to the elimination tagging with Val Venis, Mark Henry, Gangrel and Steve Blackman vs. the British Bulldog and the Mean Street Posse (Joey Abs, Rodney and Pete Gas). I’m going to be honest with you, when I saw the first team come out one at a time, I fully believed that they were the heels, especially since Venis and Henry had some harsh words for each other when they were both in the ring. Then the other team came out to show me I was wrong, yet made me wonder, “Why is this match happening?” It seems like such a random list of guys to put in a match.
It begins with Venis and Bulldog, since they are actually feuding, but Bulldog is outclassed and freaks, tagging out to Pete Gas. Gas, surprisingly, is able to dominate Venis for a bit. Blackman gets tagged in, destroys Gas with his martial arts shtick and finishes him with the pump kick to the chest. Gas is out. Gangrel faces Rodney and the interference by Joey Abs on the apron backfires and gets Rodney instead, setting him up for Gangrel’s Impaler DDT. Rodney’s out. Despite Joey Abs’ size, Mark Henry easily overpowers him, hits a splash and gets the pin. The Mean Street Posse is gone, leaving the British Bulldog. Fittingly, he has a complete “fuck my life” expression on his face as this all unfolds.
Mark Henry proves himself even stronger than the Bulldog and tags out to Gangrel. Bulldog is able to turn things around and hit Gangrel with a Superplex, getting him the pin. Blackman comes in and the exchange between them feels really lazy and dull all of the sudden. Whatever, Bulldog eliminates Blackman with a Fisherman’s Suplex. Venis and Henry start helping each other out, using teamwork spots to break the Bulldog down and finish off the match with a splash from Henry and the Money Shot from Venis. The weird thing here is how the commentators and the match itself really push the idea that the two have found their niche as a tag team, based in part on their sexual gimmicks. That appears to be the entire point of the match: make a Val Venis/Mark Henry tag team. Instead, nothing comes of it as far as I know. Otherwise, an okay match.
Up next is the very worst Survivor Series match of all time with Mae Young, Fabulous Moolah, Debra and Tori vs. Jacqueline, Luna Vachon, Ivory and Terri in what is thankfully NOT an elimination match. As Ivory comes down, Mae slams into her before she can get into the ring. Luna enters the match soon after and throws Mae out of the ring. Soon after, Jacqueline hits an absolutely awful DDT on Tori. Even worse is when Jacqueline and Luna try to clothesline Tori. They go for the spot where she ducks under and hits her own double clothesline on the rebound. The problem is that she actually slows down and stops before ducking. Jesus.
Mae and Moolah do a double clothesline on Ivory and one of them gets the pin. The whole match is under two minutes. Everyone gets in the ring and brawls, including the likes of Debra and Terri, who didn’t do anything, and Moolah and Ivory brawl on the outside.
X-Pac vs. Kane is also a very short match, but what do you expect when you have ten matches in two hours and forty minutes while spending a truckload of time watching Steve Austin pretend to be roadkill? X-Pac jumps Kane during the in-ring pyro, but is quickly tossed around like a ragdoll. Kane goes to the top for his patented clothesline, but gets dropkicked out of the ring. X-Pac hits a couple roundhouse kick counters and knocks Kane in the corner, setting him up for the Bronco Buster. When he goes for it, Kane catches him with a choke, which is the brightest spot of the match. Kane fulfills the top-rope clothesline his second try, nails the chokeslam, but gets pulled out of the ring by Road Dogg. He attacks Road Dogg, walks right into an X-Factor, yet still kicks out. X-Pac goes for a crossbody off the top, gets caught, falls victim to the Tombstone and would have been pinned had Triple H not come out and hit Kane with a belt to the face. Kane wins by disqualification.
Shortly after the match, Tori puts her hand on X-Pac’s shoulder from behind and he reacts by roundhouse kicking her in the face and then running off in fear and disbelief in what just happened.
Big Show takes on Albert, Mideon, Viscera and the Big Boss Man. Why is it just Big Show? Well, as shown on Heat earlier, Big Show was so mad about Big Boss Man that he beat up his tag partners Taka Michinoku, Funaki and the Blue Meanie backstage because he refuses any partners. What a dick!
Believe it or not, this match is even shorter than the women’s match. Big Show clears the ring, chokeslams Mideon, pin. Chokeslams Albert, pin. Bodyslams Viscera, chokeslam, pin. Then Big Boss Man runs away and gets counted out. Shortest elimination match ever, all based on building him up for something.
Thankfully, we’re rewarded with the two best matches of the night after this. Chyna defends the Intercontinental Championship against Chris Jericho in what is easily one of her best matches in her career. Starts off with a lot of brawling, where Jericho ends up shoving Chyna’s valet, Miss Kitty. In return, Chyna and Kitty put the boots to him. The brawling goes outside the ring and back in. Chyna grabs Jericho from behind and he gives a mule kick for a low blow, only Chyna no-sells it and merely shrugs. Still, Jericho holds onto the match for most of it. He tosses her out of the ring and succeeds with a plancha. Then he throws her over a table, taunts her a lot and flings her back into the ring. He hits a Missile Dropkick, but it isn’t enough.
Jericho goes for his trademark cocky foot-on-chest pin, which obviously doesn’t work, but gets some cheers. I notice Chyna has “Cena heat” in this match. The kids and women love her, but the men are all about Jericho. To prove his heelishness, he clotheslines Chyna out of the ring and when Miss Kitty gets in his face, he forces a kiss onto her. This angers her and causes her to jump him from behind and although Jericho’s able to deal with her, it opens him up for a Spear from Chyna. She pummels him, throws him into the barrier, into the ring and hits a really nice powerbomb. Kickout. Jericho gets back on his game for a moment until missing a Lionsault.
Chyna delivers her springboard elbow, follows with a DDT and Jericho kicks out. Chyna pummels him in the corner and shoves the ref too hard when he tries to intervene. Jericho picks up the Intercontinental title belt (which just so happens to be right behind him for some reason) and hits Chyna in the face. Surprisingly, she kicks out! Jericho picks her up, tries to whip her into the ropes, it gets reversed into a Pedigree and Chyna retains. Sure, a lot of it was a carry job, but Chyna really lifted up her side of the table here.
Our last tag elimination match of the night is Hardcore Holly, Crash Holly and Too Cool (Grand Master Sexay and Scotty 2 Hotty) vs. Edge, Christian and the Hardy Boyz (Matt and Jeff). While the earlier tag team-based match was more about pushing storylines, this one is able to give us a fun match. It starts off Edge vs. Hardcore Holly, but is quick to turn into Matt working over Crash. He sends him to the outside and follows up with a crossbody over the top. Matt climbs back onto the apron, met with Grand Master, who gets him with a sunset flip powerbomb to the outside. Christian adds his own splash to it, followed by Scotty and the spot ends with Hardcore backdropping Jeff out of the ring and into the others.
Fun is had with Jerry Lawler’s refusal to admit that Grand Master is his son, including the “JERRY’S KID!” chants from the crowd and a moment where Grand Master performs a bulldog on Christian and Jerry notes how amazing it was while wondering where he could have ever learned that. Grand Master puts on his goggles and goes for a second bulldog, but gets shoved into the camera man. Edge gets in there and starts Spearing everyone in sight, including Matt by accident. Jeff gets shoved into Edge, Scotty rolls him up for a pin, goes to the top rope, gets Matt with a jumping DDT and pins him as well. It’s four-on-two.
Too Cool perform a double powerbomb on Jeff, but he kicks out. They hit the Hart Attack and Christian makes the save. It becomes a big clusterfuck soon after with both Hollys beating up Christian in one corner while arguing back and forth about whatever. This distracts them enough that Jeff puts Scotty away with a 420 Splash. Jeff and Christian pull off several double-team moves, but when they try the Poetry in Motion on Crash, Hardcore jumps off the top and destroys Jeff in mid-air with a Missile Dropkick, followed with Grand Master getting the pin. Very nice. Christian does a reverse DDT on Grand Master and pins him directly after. The Holly Cousins double-team Christian for a while, but in the midst of it all, he sneaks an Unprettier onto Crash and pins him, making it one-on-one. It’s very brief, ending with Christian on Hardcore’s shoulders, trying for a Victory Roll. Hardcore stops it short, turns it into a pin and gets the three-count.
The ending was a bit boring, but the commentary helped it out. This takes place after Austin was run over, so Jim Ross is really down. At first, Lawler coaxes him into being professional and tries to get him to commentate the match. When JR does get invested, Lawler acts shocked and appalled that he’d be so excited about a wrestling match when his friend was just hospitalized.
The New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg and “Bad Ass” Billy Gunn) defend the WWF Tag Team Championship against Mankind and Al Snow. Before the match, Mankind makes an announcement about his best wishes for Steve Austin and puts over how tough he is. Early in the match, Gunn puts Mankind in a Sleeper and he counters by diving outside the ring. Dogg helps double-team him on the outside, but screws up and accidentally hits his own partner. From there, the faces dominate Road Dogg in the ring and it isn’t very exciting. When on the outside, they sneak in a couple chair shots. Back in the ring, Dogg gets back into it and starts up his trademark punch combo, which is interrupted and reversed into Al Snow’s repeated headbutts, then gets reversed back into the rest of Dogg’s dancing punches. Al takes abuse until getting Mankind in there. Mankind does his own goofy take on Dogg’s punches, which I always thought was hilarious.
The ref yells at Snow, allowing Gunn to run in and get Mankind with the Famouser. He kicks out. Road Dogg tries the Pumphandle Slam, but Mankind does a mule kick to the balls. Dogg goes down to the Double-Armed DDT, Snow performs the Snow Plow on Gunn, but it isn’t enough. Mankind puts the Mandible Claw on both of them, only to be kicked off. Snow hits Gunn with Head while the ref isn’t looking, but Mankind still can’t pin him. Brawling fills the ring, ending with a spike piledriver on Mankind and a pin. The champs retain.
The big problem here is that the show really stretched itself out thin by having ten matches. Outside of the main event, the elimination matches and that one women’s match, we have four extra matches. I don’t get why they had to be all separate when it would have made far more sense to consolidate them into an elimination match. Chyna, Kane, Mankind and Al Snow vs. Jericho, X-Pac, Road Dogg and Billy Gunn would’ve worked. They could have tossed in a subplot about whether the face team could trust Chyna and whether Jericho could trust the heel team.
Now for the main event. The champion Triple H and the Rock each come out. Then together they discover that it’s Triple H vs. The Rock vs. The Big Show! The reactions between the two are absolutely perfect. At first, the Rock and Triple H team up on Big Show. He fights them off and tries a chokeslam on Triple H, but Rock makes the save. They clothesline him out of the ring, but he lands on his feet. Rock throws Triple H out of the ring and is able to hit the People’s Elbow on Big Show. The match isn’t over yet and continues with Show beating up Triple H as they go up the ramp. Rock runs over and knocks him over. He smashes Big Show with a fire extinguisher and then suplexes Triple H. Big Show recovers and tries a chokeslam on the Rock, but gets a nutshot from Triple H to stop him. Rock spits some water into Big Show’s face, brains him with the ring bell and he and Triple H suplex Big Show through a table.
Rock and Triple H brawl into the stands, back to the ring and Rock is whipped into the referee (Vince accompanied Austin to the hospital, so he canceled his planned role). A Rock Bottom is reversed into a Pedigree, which is turned into a Slingshot. After Triple H is bounced off the corner, Rock finally gets the Rock Bottom. Shane McMahon runs out as a replacement referee, but by the time he gets there, Triple H kicks out. There’s another Rock Bottom on Triple H, but this time Big Show drags Shane out of the ring. Big Show starts kicking ass all over, throwing the Rock into the steps and all that. Triple H tries to use the title belt as a weapon, causing a big argument between he and Shane until Triple H decides to simply Pedigree him.
D-Generation X run out to help Triple H, but Vince McMahon runs out soon after. Big Show cleans house and chokeslams Billy Gunn. Vince picks up the title belt and swings it at Triple H. He misses. By evading it, Triple H finds himself right in front of an angry Big Show. He turns around and gets hit by Vince’s second attempt at a belt shot. Chokeslam, pin, new champion. Big Show gets really emotional over it, but you just know the fans really would have rather seen Rock come out the winner. It’s a pretty good match, but there’s too much senseless – yet entertaining – brawling meant to kill time.
The show had its share of bright spots, but there’s too much working against it. Too many matches for a show that didn’t even go the full three hours. Some of the matches are downright insulting in how bad they are. Then you have two major developments that didn’t pan out well at all. The mystery of who ran over Stone Cold was a disaster and Big Show’s title reign didn’t go over well at all. Too bad, since I’ve always liked the big doofus. I do like how he earned the belt within the story by basically beating nine guys in one night.
#22) SURVIVOR SERIES 2008
Date: November 23, 2008
Era: Cena Era
Location: TD Banknorth Garden in Bosten, Massachusetts
Known as: That one where they pretended Jeff Hardy fell off the wagon
Elimination Matches: 3 out of 6
The focus on the show came from the respective world titles, which was unfortunate for both sides. With Raw, John Cena was coming back from a neck injury and they handled it in the least compelling way they could by giving him an immediate title shot against World Heavyweight Champion Chris Jericho. With Smackdown, Jeff Hardy had legit screwed up his chances at a title run months earlier through drug use, but it looked like he had his head on straight. He and Vladimir Kozlov would challenge WWE Champion Triple H in a Triple Threat Match. Earlier in the day of the PPV, WWE.com had announced that Jeff Hardy was found unconscious in a stairwell, treating it like it was the real deal. It turned out to be a fake-out, but many found it tasteless in how it exploited Jeff’s history of drug use and how it held similarities with the death of Eddie Guerrero.
They can’t do a thing to make the Triple H match look any interesting, as Triple H’s promo comes off as bored, Kozlov’s promo is quick and nothing to speak of and Matt Hardy being interviewed about the state of his brother is forgettable. All that, plus the commentators using their serious voices, which is always grating in situations like this. On the Cena front, everything is a retrospective on his life and career, with this entire section of the show coming off as, “Come on and watch as we automatically put the title back on him!”
There are some good bits in there. The Boogeyman dresses as the Gobbledy Gooker in order to scare the Colons, Bellas and Charlie Haas. Randy Orton and Cody Rhodes bicker backstage as their team tries to lay down strategy. The best non-wrestling aspect of the show is the Undertaker vs. Big Show video package, which makes it look like the two clashing will break the Earth in half upon impact. It’s great, they use explosion sound effects every time Big Show is shown landing a punch.
This review is going to come across as weird, since it’s so low on the list, yet I’m going to be gushing over a lot of these matches. For instance, the opener of Shawn Michaels, Cryme Tyme (Shad and JTG), the Great Khali and Rey Mysterio vs. John Bradshaw Layfield, MVP, Miz, John Morrison and Kane is fantastic. Exactly the kind of action you’d want to see in a Survivor Series elimination match. Towards the beginning we get some awesome Rey/JTG double-teams on MVP, but when Rey leaves the ring, MVP is able to quickly turn it around with a Mafia Kick and pins JTG. He taunts the crowd as a way to celebrate, despite his partners pointing and yelling to warn him. He turns around to see Khali standing right there. Khali strikes him down with a brain chop and stands on his chest to pin him. Kane steps in for a big man showdown and the crowd bestows a loud, “KHALI!” chant. Kane chokes Khali, but the taller man forces the hand off his throat, knocks Kane down with another brain chop, has Rey perform a splash off his shoulders and Rey pins Kane. This brings it to 4-on-3.
Shad makes an attempt to fight off both Miz and Morrison, but he doesn’t have what it takes. Miz hits the Reality Check and evens up the match. He and his partner then work over Michaels and double-team him until Morrison misses an elbow from the top rope. Michaels gets the tag to Rey, who proceeds to outmaneuver Miz at every attempt, gets him with a 619 followed by a splash from the top and pins him. He tries the same route on Morrison, but while Morrison is leaned over for the 619, JBL tags himself in, runs in and intercepts Rey with a nasty shoulderblock. Lots of chants of, “YOU CAN’T WRESTLE!” go his way. The heels each work on Rey until JBL puts him on the top rope for a superplex. Rey fights his way out, lands a moonsault on the standing JBL and makes the tag to Michaels.
Michaels tears into JBL and climbs the top rope for the elbow. JBL sees this and rolls out of the ring. He and Michaels brawl on the outside and when the ref gets close to counting ten, Michaels does a feint for Sweet Chin Music. JBL flinches and turns away, just as Michaels rolls back into the ring and the ref counts JBL out. Morrison camps out behind Michaels and prepares for his own Sweet Chin Music. Michaels ducks it, counters with his finisher and pins Morrison to end the match. The survivors are Michaels, Rey and Khali.
Then we have a Divas tag elimination match with Team Raw (Beth Phoenix, Mickie James, Kelly Kelly, Candice Michelle and Jillian Hall) vs. Team Smackdown (Michelle McCool, Victoria, Maria, Maryse and Natalya). It’s pretty decent, believe it or not. The team captains McCool and Phoenix start it off with some good exchanges until Maryse tags herself in and shoves McCool off the apron, leading to lots of in-fighting on the Smackdown side. Things go south when it’s Kelly vs. Maria. WHO thought that putting those two together would have been a good idea? Victoria knows this is horrible and tags Maria, forcing her out of the ring. She turns around into an immediate hurricanrana from Kelly and is pinned. Kelly tries the same on Maryse, but she kicks out and gets Kelly back with a Blackhole Backbreaker. She pins her and evens it up.
Mickie and McCool have some great exchanges and when Maria tries to save McCool from a pin with an elbow drop, Mickie is shoved off an instant before and Maria hits her own partner. There’s more arguing, followed by a Mickie DDT on McCool to finish her off. Mickie gets up to briefly argue with Phoenix for no real reason other than giving Maryse and opening to pin her with a Schoolboy with grabbed tights.
Natalya puts Candice in the Sharpshooter, but Jillian runs in to prevent the submission. Natalya yells at her, turns around and is Speared by Candice. Candice gets the pin. Soon after, Maria performs a sloppy-as-fuck Victory Roll to pin Jillian. Candice runs in and hits an equally bad Northern Lights Suplex to eliminate Maria. Maryse comes in next, punches Phoenix off the apron and puts Candice out with a Figure Four variant. Maryse and Phoenix spend the next minute with some good reversals until Maryse falls victim to the Glam Slam and Beth Phoenix is the sole survivor. When the ladies are good, they’re good. When they’re bad… Next match.
Undertaker takes on Big Show in a Casket Match in what is the final chapter in the Undertaker vs. Scared Fat Dude Casket Match at Survivor Series Trilogy. The druids bring out the casket for its own separate intro, which takes forever, but that’s what you get in an Undertaker PPV match. Once the two are in the ring, Undertaker puts up his dukes for a second, stops, looks to the casket and has it opened as a way to screw with Big Show’s head. The fight quickly goes to the outside, where Undertaker is thrown into the barrier. Big Show clears off one of the announce tables and gets surprised with a monitor to the skull. Big Show slumps over the table, stunned long enough that Undertaker is able to walk across the neighboring table and legdrop Big Show through the first table.
Back into the ring, Undertaker tries Old School, but it’s reversed into a standing superplex. Big Show performs a Sidewalk Slam and rolls Undertaker into the casket, but he’s suddenly too afraid to close it and demands the refs do it for him. When he does finally man up, Undertaker puts his leg up to keep the door open. Big Show continues to work his opponent over and goes for a Vaderbomb in the corner, but as he balances on the rope, Undertaker stands back up, walks over and chokeslams him. Big Show is placed in the casket, but keeps it open by shoving his way out. He gets Undertaker with a chokeslam, but rather than, you know, finish the match, he flips the casket over and tries to run up the ramp. A wall of flames appears to stop him. He beats down Undertaker some more and another batch of chanting druids come out with a backup casket. Show sets the casket up vertically and shoves Undertaker into it. Undertaker gets out before the door is shut, punches Big Show almost over the edge of the stage, but then whips him into the open casket, which falls over and shuts itself.
It’s hokey and slow at times, but I didn’t hate this match like others did. The main thing it has working against it is Big Show’s bizarre fear of winning for the sake of plot device.
Our last elimination match of the night has Batista, R-Truth, CM Punk, Kofi Kingston and Matt Hardy take on Randy Orton, Cody Rhodes, Shelton Benjamin, Mark Henry and William Regal. The faces have the advantage early, as CM Punk knees Regal in the corner, delivers the Go to Sleep and pins him in 11 seconds. In response, Layla throws a shoe at him. It’s a while before we see another elimination. Luckily, we have some fast-paced working by Kofi and Shelton keeping us entertained. Matt Hardy beats on Orton for a moment until missing a moonsault. R-Truth goes at Shelton and has some absolutely shitty-looking offense. For instance, he tries a Scissor Kick on Shelton, who is already standing. Shelton responds with the Paydirt and pins him. Kofi gets to the top rope and gets a crossbody in there, but Shelton kicks out.
In what would be a gigantic contrast to the following year, Orton annihilates Kofi in the ring. He delivers the Rope Hung DDT and eliminates him. Punk and Cody have at it, which is a fun pairing. Punk climbs to the top rope, gets distracted by Manu (heh, remember him?) and is shoved off the top by Cody. Cody follows with a DDT and pins him. A minute later, Matt Hardy tries attacking Mark Henry off the second rope and is caught. Mark Henry puts him away with the World’s Strongest Slam, making it four-on-one. Then again, it’s Batista and he really hasn’t been in the ring this entire match. To prove the odds don’t mean shit, he Spears Henry and pins him upon entry. Shelton is manhandled and put down with the Batista Bomb. Now it’s two-on-one. Piece of cake.
Manu and Orton distract Batista and Cody tries to take advantage with a DDT. Instead, Batista delivers a Batista Bomb. The ref refuses to make the count. You see, while Cody was in mid-air, Orton made the blind tag and the ref saw it. Batista turns around, gets RKO’d and is pinned by Orton. Despite their animosity towards each other, Orton and Cody come out the winners and celebrate.
If you look at the past four matches, you must be wondering how I can rank this show so low. That was, to me, a great undercard. It’s just that the two main events are what drop the show like a rock.
First is Triple H defending the WWE Championship against Vladimir Kozlov. Kozlov is one of those guys I’d call an “adopt-a-wrestler”. The kind of guy you realize isn’t the best, but you see his promise and really pull for the guy to get over and get better. I like Kozlov and would love to see him develop as a good worker who can get over. I don’t know, maybe it’s my Russian heritage or my enjoyment for all things Drago and Zangief. The thing is, even as a fan, I cannot see eye-to-eye with the WWE’s belief that the guy could endure a Goldberg/Lesnar push. Putting him in a Triple Threat would be acceptable, but having him only face Triple H is unforgiveable. Especially since Triple H sucks at carrying anyone slower than himself.
The match begins with many different chants from the fans. “USA! USA!” Okay, that’s good. “WE WANT JEFF!” Uh… well, I guess it works into what they’re going for. “BOOOOORING!” Uh oh. Yep, lots of boring restholds to start the match. Headlocks, hammerlocks, armbars, oh my. Triple H does hit a Facebuster Knee and a DDT that briefly wakes up the crowd, but that’s followed by more boos. Oh, and a, “TNA!” chant.
Triple H tries for a Pedigree, but gets shoved off and is headbutted in the chest. Kozlov follows up with a Fallaway Slam that looks like it’s done in slow motion. Then he does a bearhug from behind and keeps going back to that move again and again and again! Eventually, Kozlov is forced into headbutting the corner pad and walks into a Pedigree. Both guys are on the mat by this point.
Vickie Guerrero runs out excited and announces, “HE’S HERE!” to some huge pops. It isn’t Jeff Hardy, but Edge with a hobo beard. The crowd is split, but loud and enthusiastic in their responses. He Spears Triple H. Jeff Hardy runs out, attacks Edge, gets a chair, hits Triple H (by accident, but he doesn’t care), hits Kozlov, gets Speared by Edge and then Edge pins Triple H to become champion. Some might argue that I fell into their trap and that the Triple H/Kozlov stuff was supposed to be awful. Well, funny thing about that. Even if it is supposed to be shit, that doesn’t stop it from being shit. I had heard horror stories of this match for the last two years, but I hadn’t seen it until doing the research for this article. Yes, it’s just as bad as people say.
Now for Chris Jericho defending the World Heavyweight Championship against John Cena. The match starts with Cena going for an immediate FU, which doesn’t work. Lots of chants for Cenas in addition to some boos. Cena is shoulderblocked by Jericho and rolls out of the ring, adding drama to how his neck isn’t 100%. Come on. Don’t even try to make us believe that Cena has any intention of selling an injury. He dives back into the ring, attacks Jericho rapidly and tries to procure the STFU. Again, Jericho escapes.
Cena still dominates, hits the Throwback, goes to the top rope, has second thoughts because of his whole neck thing and then gets attacked by Jericho. Jericho brings him to the outside, where he kicks Cena’s neck into the corner post. Cena barely makes it back into the ring. Any attempt at a comeback is met with more and more damage to the neck. This includes being thrown out of the ring, being thrown into the steps and being put in a Full Nelson. But hey, at least he didn’t jump off the top rope that one time.
Cena dodges a Lionsault and puts Jericho to the mat with one of his sloppy suplexes. Now he does his, “You can’t see me!” taunt to prepare for the Five Knuckle Shuffle, looking around and turning his neck with ease to smile at the crowd. Before he can hit the punch, Jericho springs to life and puts Cena in the Walls of Jericho. Cena powers out, but gets put back in the move. He grabs the rope. Jericho releases and quickly runs right into an FU. Both men go down. They get up and brawl on the second rope, leading to Jericho being thrown down and Cena delivering a legdrop from the top. Glad he admits that doing aerial moves is no longer a real threat anymore.
He sets Jericho up for another FU, to which Jericho fights out with elbows and gets Cena with a Codebreaker. He starts clotheslining Cena whenever he gets up, again and again until running into a STFU. He crawls to the rope, gets pulled back and kicks Cena in the face so he’ll let go. Jericho tries a Small Package to pin Cena, gets lifted into onto Cena’s shoulders, experiences the FU once again and is pinned. It isn’t the worst match and it’s easily a step up from the mess that happened a half hour earlier, but it reeks of things that make Cena unbearable. He’s pushed directly into a main event title match that he easily wins and the only odds against him are a neck injury that he’s not going to competently sell anyway. They could have drawn it out so easily and added enough drama to make me care, but there you go. He’s champ again.
That’s it for Day One. Thanks to Bearnt!, who has gladly been helping out as my go-to guy for YouTube uploads.