The Survivor Series back with the biggest Survivor Series match in history, which surprisingly almost lived up the hype. The rest of the show survived my mighty pen/keyboard as well. Even if there was a turkey or two in the bunch.
Your Monthly Reminder: While the name of these reviews is “Bang for Your Buck”, because of the Network, it’s now less of “getting your money’s worth”, and more “how much does having access to something like this make me want to renew my subscription” or, more succinctly, “how ‘special’ was this event/match, really?”. Which means that instead of just taking into account things like: major character shifts, definitive conclusions (which are different from clean finishes) and moves that don’t make their way to Raw, it’ll focus more on “how many times would I rewatch this”, “would I show this to non-fans as a reason why wrestling is worth watching” and “how different was this historically?”
Each match is rated on a sliding scale between -1 and -1: Matches worth multiple rewatches are +1, a match you may watch or skip 0, and things that make you reevaluate being a fan earning up to a -1 score. The scale is arbitrary, of course, but it’s based around the idea that a match will be fundamentally watchable, repeatedly so.
As for the scale, it’s not particularly complicated but here are the basic levels (on a per-match basis):
As per usual, I’ll be using what I said from the What’s the Worst That Could Happen preview to see how close I was to predicting what would happen and whether or not it lived up to my pre-established expectations. You know, like an adult.
Best Case Scenario: WWE reinstates the King of the Ring and bestows 1 it upon Bad News Barrett, bringing back his podium and adding a giant throne.
What Nick Wants to Happen: Him to work with what got him there: an awfully great British accent and strategic usage of tiny wood mallets.
What Will Happen: Bad News is charming, wonderful and reminds us why we fell in love with him the … fourth? … fourth time he came into our lives.
This was a very very busy pre-show, with two matches and an appearance by their returning hero, Bad News Barrett. And while it seems as though they have the whole “who is going to be replacing the Authority as GM” thing figured out, Bad News Barrett even being a possibility for the position as he recuperates from his injury seems like some kind of wonderful.
Bad News Barrett’s return, of course, was the highlight, even with the surprise Jack Swagger-Cesaro double-down feud blowoff match. Although he didn’t get as monstrous a pop as he has in the past, he was not really given the element of surprise, which is usually what makes appearances by him so over-the-top wonderful. Also, it’s unclear whether they want him to pretend to be a “good” guy or a “bad” guy — meaning in this context, they don’t know if they want him to slightly antagonize the crowd in an effort to appear edgy or reinforce what they believe in an effort to appear like a champion of the people — but they better figure out soon, because the one way this gimmick won’t work is if they insist on having him play both sides. It’ll get over one way or the other, but sending mixed messages on such a can’t miss gimmick is the worst possible idea at this point.
As for the matches, the new improved Fandango just seems like a re-release of the Fandango action figure “NOW WITH FLAMENCO ACTION!”. Actually, the exclamation points would probably not even be included with this presentation, because even if he and Justin Gabriel tore the house down (they didn’t), when something is new and improved, we expect louder and brighter, not slower and sadder. On the other hand/match, Cesaro continues his “Jobbin’ Round The World!” tour, this time losing to his former Real American tag team partner, the Real All-American American Jack Swagger in a fun, if brutally short match.
While it’s not in and of itself worth watching over and over again, your correspondent was at least compelled to watch it while it was on, to see the live action segments and the video packages for all the different feuds. This is type of pre-show — even including issues with sparse crowds as they wait for everyone to arrive before the show — is exactly what they should be doing going forward: several preliminary matches, an interview/promo segment and the same shilling of the Network/their sponsor/each feud that they use to do on the PPV channel while you waited for the show to start.