Welcome to Survivor Series. The focus tonight is on a man who is not even wrestling. What will John Cena do? More importantly, what will WWE brass do? The opening video is all about Cena so it’s a bit of surprise when we open with Ted Dibiase challenging Daniel Bryan for the United States Championship. I don’t recall this even being announced in advance. Dibiase puts up a good fight and the match is a decent opener. The LaBell lock is teased constantly and, in the end, it keeps Bryan his championship. Considering this was a free add to the card you can’t help but get your money’s worth.
Miz ambushes Bryan with the Money in the Bank briefcase then he and Alex “Will a DUI get me fired?” Reilly. Miz is out before the Miami crowd to get heat by making fun of the Heat. He also runs down Nexus to keep us all wondering if Miz will cash in his title shot after the main event.
Next match is John Morrison versus Sheamus. Who wins here will be very interesting just in terms of figuring out which of these guys is trending upwards. I heard one commentator say the best way to book this is like an old Undertaker/Jeff Hardy match. They don’t really go that direction but they get a lot of mileage out of Morrison’s willingness to throw himself/be thrown around like a toy. I don’t know why WWE is having a lot more matches end without finishing moves lately but it happens again here. Morrison strings together a few moves, ending with a leaping knee strike, and that’s enough for the pin. So Morrison is moving up the card. But is Sheamus moving down?
Now it’s time to catch up with Cena backstage. R-Truth is really weird lately, now he’s offering to take down Orton so Cena can keep his job? Cena once again vows to be fair and now R-Truth doesn’t believe him? Why would he turn down Truth’s offer if he planned to rig the match?
Before we get to the Kaval vs. Dolph Ziggler title match some bad news. There will be a fourth season of NXT. It will be back to men but will that bring it back to watchable? This match features a nice mix of high impact and submission wrestling. No Kaitlyn to distract Vickie or Dolph. Dolph takes a real shot to the nose and it’s bloody from then on. It could even be broken. It’s a good match with a weak roll-up reversal finish, holding the tights to give Ziggler the win. I hope this feud continues.
We get some mic time from the Survivor Series heels. They aren’t entirely on the same page but Del Rio remains gold on the microphone. MVP is the hometown hero tonight so it’s weird to see him getting a chant over Mysterio or Big Show. Cole and Striker actually waste mic time arguing if Ricky Henderson was the best baseball player of all time. He wasn’t; he was great, but not the greatest. MVP is the hometown boy so, of course, he’s eliminated first. Chris Masters doesn’t last much longer, falling to Del Rio’s Armbar. Big Show punches out Del Rio when he is not legal and gets led out. Cody Rhodes falls to the Big Show so it’s effectively 3 on 3 now. Del Rio is technically still in the match so could return.
Kofi Kingston takes out Tyler Reks, who I’m not getting behind no matter how hard they try. This gives the faces the advantage but Kofi soon taps to a Jack Swagger Anklelock. Matt Striker sounds like an idiot when he tries to make Mysterio falling off Show’s shoulders sound impressive. He actually adds Rey’s height to the distance he supposedly fell. It doesn’t work that way. Never mind Rey was not standing on the top of Show’s head. Swagger falls to Mysterio and the lone Drew MacIntyre eats a Chokeslam and the faces win with the same survivors as Friday’s Smackdown. This seems like wrong booking. Del Rio looks like he has a glass jaw, the other heels don’t seem strong and people who don’t need to be elevated are the only winners. We’ve already had two face wins on the card the bad guys should have pulled it out here.
TLC is a weak Pay Per View but I am loving this promo made up largely of crude stick figure drawings. Orton doesn’t feel sorry for John Cena. He’s focused on Wade Barrett. Cena knows if he screws Orton then Orton will make getting fired look good by comparison.
Diva handicap match is next. I have little to say about the match. The heels have to tag in and out. The finish? I never thought I’d see the day Michelle McCool would tap out to Natalya’s Sharpshooter. The subsequent beat down is interrupted by the non-surprise return of Beth Phoenix to make the save. My buddy Hugh begged and begged for Beth to turn but instead I predict a tag match at the next PPV.
Next comes the Edge/Kane match and a long video reminds us Edge has kidnapped Kane’s father Paul Bearer. Both the guys who saw the show with me had thought he was dead in real life. Edge brings out a wheelchair, but no Paul. Kane is obsessed with his father through the match, trying to beat the information out of Edge. Edge looks like a threat throughout. But Kane still bores me, no matter who he faces, and none of us really enjoy this match. Edge reverses a Tombstone attempt into a Spear. Kane goes down, Edge falls down with an arm draped over Kane and it’s bloody obvious from the poorly chosen camera angle that both men’s shoulders are down. They tease Edge as the new champ but it’s a draw so Kane retains. I’ve seen this done before, way, way better on free TV in a HHH/HBK title match. Here, it’s just lame. Kane tries to beat down Edge but it ends up with Edge wheelchairing Kane through a ring barricade. We never see Paul Bearer. Yes, Edge still looks strong for this feud to continue but big PPVs should be above cheap crap like this.
Now it’s Barrett’s turn to talk to Cena backstage. They are in the same arena tonight where Nexus debuted by beating down Cena. It’s all come full circle. Don’t pretend you planned that. Barrett could have fired Cena after Monday’s Attitude Adjustment. But no, John will hand Barrett the title tonight and be free.
The rest of Nexus come out as Gabriel and Slater defend their tag belts against Santino Marella and Vladimir Koslov. Slater still isn’t ready for this. The other guys are merely ok tonight. Extra Nexus interference makes the difference and Nexus stands tall. We hear from the anonymous GM for the first time all show. He or she just wants to make sure the rest of Nexus are gone for the main event.
That brings us to our final contest of the evening. It’s supposed to be Orton and Barrett but Cena steals most of the focus. He calls it even, as Barrett grows more and more frustrated with him. Behind all this isn’t a great match. Orton can wrestle but he’s not at the point where he can carry a green opponent to a great match. After a long back and forth Barrett hits Wasteland and Orton barely grabs the ropes to save his title. Barrett shoves Cena, Cena hits back and Barrett stumbles straight into an RKO! Cena hesitates just for a moment before counting the three and ending his career. The rest of Nexus attack. Cena and Orton fight them off together but not before they rescue their beaten leader. Cena hands Orton his title. They even hug. Orton gets in his celebratory poses but the focus is not on him. Soon he heads to the back. Then Cena takes a ridiculously long time saying goodbyes. He ranges all over the arena. He hugs Cole but not King or Striker.
So WWE was not willing to put a title on Barrett to such a point they now have to write their way out of this mess. I haven’t heard anything about Cena actually wanting time off for any reason so this shouldn’t last long. So how was the show? Well there was some good wrestling. There was some good match storytelling. But usually you had to choose one or the other and in some cases got none. There were some big surprises and it felt like a big event. And Michael Cole was toned down from Monday or NXT, so that helped. I’m going to give this one a thumbs up, especially since I didn’t have to pay. But even then, it’s on the line.