Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Match
Ryback, Erick Rowan, Big Show, Dolph Ziggler & John Cena vs. Seth Rollins, Kane, Rusev, Mark Henry & Luke Harper
What Will Happen: There seems to be a consensus of no consensus. Some see to think that the entire earth is tilted in the favor of Team Cena, and that a Team Authority victory is a narrative impossibility. But, with WrestleMania looming large in six months, it’s likely time to use the free show to kick something into overdrive, and your correspondent has to agree with those that see Team Authority bring the (sledge)hammer down on Team Cena, especially with the stipulation that not only will people be “fired” if John Cena’s team loses, only the members of the team not named John Cena are on the chopping block. That’s an accident waiting to happen.
So, sometimes it’s important to admit when you are wrong, and I was totally wrong about this match. Not from a “will this be enjoyable” perspective, of course — and, not surprisingly, it was probably the most entertaining Survivor Series elimination match of all time — but from both the ending and how much of an impact the arrival of Sting would make. As a lifelong WWE fan, even one with a strong appreciation of WCW and Sting in particular, I’ve never really loved him as a performer as much as I understood that he was beloved and accepted that he might just not be for me.
But the crowd reaction, which was just the final in a series of spectacular reaction the entire night from one of the best non-WrestleMania PPV crowds that the WWE has had since 2011’s Money in the Bank PPV, made it clear that Sting’s Sting-ness transcends time and place. Speaking of which, the implicit endorsement of Ziggler — or at least, Ziggler as the embodiment of good in this particular instance — by him, along with the explicit endorsement of him by the announcers and the genuinely effecting moment (at least for your correspondent) after the match between he and Cena (who was nice enough to turn his back to the audience while hugging Dolph) were moments that make this match one that should be on repeat not just a match of the year, but one of the best matches at one of the premier shows in the industry.
And it didn’t just reach that at the end, because while making Ziggler a star was clearly the goal of this match and build, it also did a brilliant job of building up nearly every other person involved (outside of Mark Henry) to a higher level than they had been before. Rusev continues to be the Rookie of the Year AND dark horse MVP candidate, John Cena did just enough to make his captaincy make sense without making the match all about him, Big Show finally has a turn that makes sense (especially with his history with John Boy), Ryback kept his considerable momentum despite being eliminated first by a barrage of finisher and the murder/death/kill that is the Curb Stomp — and Harper/Rowan have the seeds a Hoss Feud that should fuel our heart engines for months to come.
On top of all this, the match signaled massive paradigms shifts on a number of levels, which have — again — not be seen since Money in the Bank in 2011. These are the types of match — at least in the eyes of your correspondent — that we watch wrestling for, and, more often than not, Superhero movies. But, perhaps the greatest part of it all is that we as fans can always collectively remember this as The Night They Made Dolph Ziggler.
While there was a real stinker on this show with Adam Rose/Bunny vs. SLATER! GATOR!, and a severely padded out running time filled with necessary if kind of annoying segments, the rest of the card was somewhere between “way better than it should be” and “on the short list of best matches of the year/last five years”. This, along with last year’s show (before the main event) are doing a lot to build back up the prestige of not just the show itself, but the traditional elimination match. Before that, the Survivor Series was seen as a gimmick PPV largely there to put as many people on a PPV card as was humanly possible, but with the Network will likely now be seen as an integral part of the company’s branding and programming strategy in the lead-up to the Royal Rumble, and subsequently, WrestleMania. This is the beginning of what the WWE should consider their regular season, with the time between SummerSlam and now as a bit of an offseason. And thankfully, it look as though the WWE can build strongly off of this card, with massive moment of belts, allegiances and, most importantly, the crowning of Dolph Ziggler as one of the stars of the future.
Overal PPV (not including pre-show) 3.35 | Match Avg .5833 (.59 if you’re nasty)