Welcome, cats and kittens, to yet another installment of the Wrestling Observer’s favorite wrestling review blog, Cewsh Reviews! We have a special treat for you tonight as we review WWE Survivor Series 2011 wherein a lot of stuff is going to happen that is great and wonderful and yadda yadda yadda THE ROCK IS GOING TO WRESTLE A MATCH. Whether you’re a fan of the man or not, this show represents a huge, huge deal as the Rock returns to wrestle his first honest to god match in 8 years, and teaming up with his Wrestlemania opponent John Cena to boot. The interest and hype surrounding this is truly massive, and that’s without even pointing out that we’re in Madison Square Garden, baby. The home of the WWE, and the birthplace of a million poorly thought out face turns. With the electricity of the Rock coming back, the excitement of CM Punk getting a crack at the WWE title, and with the widespread frustration over Zack Ryder being left off the card, this town is a geyser that is ready to explode. Anything can happen, and it will. Fucking hell, what are we waiting for?
Cewsh: This video pretty much spends the first half meticulously reminding you that Survivor Series is a fancy thing, and then the second half putting over how the Rock and John Cena will team up most improbably in the main event. These are both good things and they breed excitement easily, but here’s the thing. If you watched this video, and happened to blink during the split second the Miz was on screen, you may actually come away from this thinking that the Rock and John Cena were actually teaming up to wrestle an unstoppable robot army of clones of themselves since the only faces that seem to show up are theirs.
Will this fixation on only one half of a tag match come back to haunt them? Well we’ll get to that a bit later. In the mean time, I believe we have a guest…
Cewsh: We launch into the announcer’s usual spiel about how everything is so exciting that they’re in danger of soiling themselves, and Booker T takes this opportunity to mention Twitter for the first time in this broadcast a stunning 3:39 seconds in. He also manages to work in an iPad reference and forces Michael Cole to briefly stop talking, showing that while he may be batshit insane, he is batshit insane like a fox.
Much to the displeasure of everyone in attendance, Johnny Ace walks his zombified corpse out in the arena to inform us that this is his tenth anniversary with the WWE. That’s it. He just wanted to share and maybe wanted to guilt us for not getting him a cake. Luckily, this gives us a chance to:
A) Appreciate how absolutely gorgeous the set is, one of the best in recent years.
B) Ruminate on the idea that Johnny Ace has worked for the WWE longer than anyone on this show other than Mark Henry.
Cewsh: Now I don’t want to upset any of John Morrison’s fans that we have here among our readership, especially if they have, for whatever reason, studiously avoided any and all wrestling news sites and were in the bathroom during the segment on Raw referencing this, but John Morrison is, as of the date of this review, motherfucking fired. Or rather his contract came to an end and was not renewed, whether because of Melina or because of Melina and other things as well. As such this will go down as his final PPV performance (for now), and lucky for him he’s standing across the ring from Dolph Ziggler, who has grown so smoothly into the most consistent performer in WWE that most of us hardly noticed that it was happening. The man has the look, has the charisma, has great matches with absolutely everyone, and all of sudden now he can talk too, making him probably WWE’s best home grown talent since the days of Lesnar, Cena and Orton. Incredible.
As if he woke up that morning just to prove me right, Ziggler walks out to the ring for this match just dripping cocky electricity as he talks to the camera more while traveling to the ring than Morrison has managed his entire career. Morrison, for his part, is either not overly impressed or is confused by the concept of charisma being about more than how sparkly your coat is.
They set about the thing, and it should go without saying that we’re dealing with a silky smooth match between these two guys. Ziggler’s entire gimmick revolves around the concept (and the reality) that he is just plain better than everyone he wrestles. He’s better on the mat, better at tactics, better at athleticism, just generally better at everything, but as such he’s entirely overconfident and it costs him. This is sort of the perfect gimmick to build a quality match on top of, because whenever Ziggler is on offense, he has this smug look on his face like “Told you so” and it drives the fans nuts. Then Morrison can fire back with his fancy moves, which Ziggler sells like gunshots every time and its just so pleasant to watch. Everything just looks right all the time. As a result the fans, who had refused to cheer Morrison at first due to his not being Zack Ryder, come around and start booing and cheering like crazy as this match goes on, with wild momentum swings back and forth all the way. Eventually Vickie Guerrero does her Vickie Guerrero thing, and much to the rabid approval of the crowd is ejected from ringside. This causes her to attempt to break the sound barrier with her screams while being utterly drowned out by a thunderous rendition of “Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey hey, you get the idea”.
Things more evened up, Morrison comes thundering back, only to fall prey to Ziggler’s inherent betterness, and he finally catches the sparkly one in the Zig Zag and wins clean. And to reiterate, that is a midcard heel winning clean on PPV, an event only slightly less rare than a stripper’s father giving her a hug.
Now this match was totally fantastic, and virtually the perfect opener to a pay per view. It was fast paced, easy to watch, got everyone in the crowd excited and managed not to burn them out. I have to give both men credit for pulling it off, and its actually a shame to see Morrison go, bearing in mind that he has amazing chemistry with at least 3 guys on the Raw roster right now (Punk, Miz, and Ziggler) and could very well have made something incredible of big time matches with them. But alas, not to be and when he’s losing to Crimson in TNA 6 months from now, I hope he’ll send Dolph Ziggler a fruit basket for making one of the last images of him in WWE such a positive one.
Anyway, so Morrison fucks off to obscurity and Ziggler stands tall and cuts a promo about how he’s the best around and nothing’s going to ever keep him down, when all of a sudden Captain Woo comes hurtling down to the ring to get his revenge on Ziggler and the world for leaving him off of this show. The crowd goes absolutely bananas for him as he comes to their rescue, only to be intercepted by Ziggler who beats him down mercilessly. But like veneral disease on the sheets of the Jersey Shore house, you just can’t get rid of the man, and the second Ziggler looks away to mock the crowd he gets a whole bunch of Zack Ryder dong right in his face courtesy of a Rough Ryder and bails out humiliated and defeated.
Now we need to address something briefly. Its possible that you were one of the people blowing up the internet complaining that WWE wont give Zack Ryder the push he deserves at some point in the past few months.
Maybe you dismissively said something along the lines of “Yeah right, like Vince will ever push a guy who gets over on the internet” or “Yeah okay, WWE, don’t use one of your most popular guys LOL”. Many people said these things, and its nothing to be ashamed of. However you need to understand that you, and others just like you, got worked. Big time.
See, go ahead and watch a Zack Ryder match. He’s a good wrestler, competent and generous. Credit to any organization. But he is not over from his wrestling ability and he never would have been. Even now, when he actually starts wrestling, his pops die off quickly until he hits his finisher. He goes from being as over as the Rock in his entrance to being Drew McIntyre the second he locks up. So why is this? Simple. Zack Ryder the wrestler is not over and he never was. Zack Ryder the CONCEPT is over like gangbusters due to a combination of smart marketing by Ryder himself, bandwagon fandom and some of the smartest booking that WWE has ever carried off. See, WWE has been acknowledging us internet fans lately, and they know exactly what makes us tick. So what do they do with a guy that the underground wants to see to make him relevant to the wider audience but to also keeps him beloved by his rising group of internet fans? Easy. Don’t use him. Tease him and then give absolutely nothing, or mere snippets. Everytime they use him only to take him away, the outcry grew louder and louder and his name became more and more a household one around the country as his fanbase grew bigger and bigger. Now the man is a star to everyone, simply because WWE wouldn’t let smarks have what they thought they wanted before they were ready to have it.
Kick back and ruminate on that one next time you feel the words “Vince doesn’t listen to the fans” coming out of your mouth.
Cewsh’s Download Seal of Approval.
Cewsh: This match isn’t happening for any real reason. The gimmick to it doesn’t serve any real purpose. The wrestling doesn’t bear any real description. I’m not going to really review it.
However, what I will say is that the finish to this match is probably the greatest finish to a Divas match since the current Divas of Doom beat Laycool in a tables match last year, as Beth takes Eve sky high and crushes her with a Glam Slam off of the top rope. It looked great, popped the crowd, and frankly Eve deserves all the credit in the world for giving herself a front row ticket to her own free fall. Good times there.
Just a shame that it was a candle in the darkness.
68 out of 100.
Cewsh: Well, one a bit more than the other, admittedly.
Anyhow, CM Punk and David Otunga are backstage, which I swear has occurred on every PPV they’ve run since Summerslam. It’s the same basic exchange with Otunga trying to get some of his smarminess on Punk, and Punk shutting him down with jokes. Thus far this “Otunga is a shifty attorney” thing hasn’t actually gone anywhere but they just keep having him turn up and say significant and vague things so often that I have to wonder if there’s something big going on behind all of these hints.
But then, that’s what I thought after they teased Otunga staging a cout in the Nexus for months and that pretty much went nowhere too, so maybe his real gimmick is just a guy who is always on tv for no reason.
So a Kardashian, basically.
Cewsh: From there we then close up on a bicep so enormous that it is easily a tencep by now, and we pull back to see non other than his Rockness himself. Over the next 5 minutes, the Rock makes the fans lose their fucking minds with catchphrases, insults and even a sing along. I shit you not when I say that this is easily the happiest the crowd is throughout this entire show, as the Rock, well, electrifies them for an extended (but not Wrestlemania extended) period. And here’s the funny thing. HE SAID ABSOLUTELY NOTHING OF ANY WORTH WHATSOEVER. At the beginning he started to talk about how much Madison Square Garden and Survivor Series meant to him, and it was actually rather riveting, but then he launched off into randomness and never came back, with the fans loving every second of it.
The truth is that the Rock is kind of a terrible promo. He doesn’t put over the matches or his opponents, and these days he seems to struggle mightily just settling down long enough to concentrate on one topic. But the Rock is AMAZING at talking, and so it truly doesn’t matter. These fans would have popped to hear him read his grocery list because the man just has so much energy that its infectious. It wouldn’t work for anyone but him, but fuck if I didn’t feel it by the time we were smelling what he was cooking.
Cewsh: Ah, the Survivor Series elimination match. For many a year you have delighted us with your silly antics, enthralled us with your natural drama and, more recent, put us to sleep with your bland formulaicness. Here we have something interesting, though, as nearly everyone in this match has a great deal of momentum coming in and everyone (barring Kofi) seems fresh and interesting. This goes especially for the heel team, where Wade Barrett, Cody Rhodes and Dolph Ziggler are currently comprising the most exciting crop of young heels I’ve seen in some time. Then there’s Hunico, fresh off his new stable formation and his feud with Sin Cara and…the other guy. The one that looks like Uncle Sam jizzed all over him. Yeah, that one.
So we’ve got a bunch of interesting guys here, and they all make their way to the ring, and while they do we get to watch Dolph Ziggler shill himself amazingly (“Oh, I’M gonna follow me!”), Wade Barrett come out to music only slightly less appropriate for him than the Fraggle Rock theme would be, and then finally we get to see the recent transformation of Cody Rhodes which is incredible. The music, the look, the mash up of Dashing and Crazy Cody, it just all adds up to an incredible package deal. Truly the man is an inspiration to anyone who has ever been handed a shitty gimmick, because he came through a gimmick nobody else in the company could have escaped unscathed and now on the other side he’s actually better off for having done so. Kudos to that man.
We get this flim flam kabam started with Ziggler and Kofi, and they go right at it trying to hit finishes right out of the gate. Kofi is put on his heels and tags in Orton and immediately Orton remembers Ziggler saying that he’s the greatest ever and can’t be beaten. Randy Orton, being the scientist that he is, decides to try an experiment to see if this is true and promptly RKOs and pins him right in the center of the ring.
Team Heel decides to have a conference outside the ring, but Team Face totally doesn’t understand the concept of a huddle and jumps them, leading to a clusterfuck that ends when Sin Cara and Kofi do stereo planchas to the outside. Or at least that was the plan, but when Cara went to jump, his knee gave out on him and he barely made it over the ropes and promptly fell to the ground clutching at his leg in obviously serious pain.
Naturally Madison Square Garden takes this opportunity to start chanting “You fucked up” because hey, they paid tickets to be fans not decent human beings. Both teams separate as they both look puzzled as to what the fuck to do now and try to reconstruct the plan of the match without Sin Cara’s place in it. The man is wheeled out and he’s done for a good long while.
When we get back to business, we get BIG MASON RYAN going all hoss on Cody Rhodes or “Going Bolo” as Booker T would like me to say. Cody decides about 10 seconds in that he’s really not into any of this nonsense and tags in Hunico to be thrown around like a Mexican Raggedy Andy. Various tags occur as people hop in to do some damage and hop right back out, until eventually we get Mason Ryan and Hunico again, which proves that Hunico must have pissed somebody off. Ryan demolishes Hunico and prepares for the Full Nelson Slam when Rhodes comes out of nowhere with the Beautiful Disaster and a gorgeous Cross Rhodes to eliminate the big man much to the pleasure of those in attendance.
That leaves us with Kofi, Randy and Sheamus on the face side, but that’s not exactly a disadvantage, which Sheamus shows by immediately treating Cody Rhodes like you might treat a fly that had landed in your soup. Eventually the heels manage to bring the big man down by working on him like a well oiled machine, and then its Kofi’s turn to fly around like a maniac. Kingston does his usual stuff until Wade Barrett decides that he’s just as bored of Kofi Kingston as I am and squashes him with a huge Wasteland.
Jack Swagger actually gets some match time for a minute. This offends Sheamus for some really, and the Irishman just starts punching Swagger in the face and refuses to stop until he gets enough. The ref then decides that HE’S had enough and disqualifies Sheamus.
Sheamus is a good sport about this, naturally, and goes to give Jack Swagger a sportsmanlike handshake. With his foot. And Swagger’s face. At high speed.
Orton rolls in and pins Swagger, cutting the huge lead to 3.
Now Orton is pretty much fucked, but we know better than to just write him off out of hand. The man has been the sole survivor of a Survivor Series team twice before, and is just three RKOs away from an out of nowhere victory. Rhodes ignores this and taunts Orton mercilessly, which goes about as well as you’d expect. He goes to give Rhodes the RKO and that pesky Hunico springboards into the ring to interfere. Which again, goes about as well as you’d expect.
Barrett and Rhodes come after Orton, trying to jump on him before he can go all crazypants on them, and Orton holds them off admirably again and again. Finally he sets up Barrett for the RKO but has to break it off to RKO an oncoming Cody Rhodes. Unfortunately that’s all the time Captain Barrett needs to scoop him up and ship him to the Wasteland. 1…2…3. No survivors.
This match was a lot of fun, that should go without saying. All of these guys were exciting in their way and the crowd was really into things, which helped a ton after the initial troubles with Sin Cara’s injury. The match flew by and ultimately made almost everyone in it look fantastic and like they’re on the cusp of greatness or already there. This is the sort of match they used to have back in the day that makes old school fans drool anytime they see a double S. It wasn’t show stealing, and it wasn’t memorable, but it was one helluva way to spend 20 minutes.
Cewsh’s Download Seal of Approval.
Cewsh: Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaand a swing and a miss.
Big Show and Mark Henry have been feuding for quite a few months now, what with Henry having bulldozed Show on his improbable path to the title, leaving him injured and bitter. Now Show wants to strip Henry of the prize he worked so hard to get, and if he can cripple Henry in the process, then hey, alls to the good. Henry, for his part, is facing the first thing in his reign of terror that could stand in front of him and wont be bullied and is having one helluva time trying to get past the big man to move on to somebody else. Here they finally have their one on one showdown for the title and while all of this sounds great, the second you saw these two men’s names side by side up there, you probably immediately understood that this bad boy pumped the brakes on this show big time.
The match consists, primarily, of Henry and Big Show having strength competitions, and the Big Show winning them. Then Henry will do something bullyish and he’ll lock in a leg hold or some such until he decides that that’s enough of that, at which point they go back to strength competitions. This isn’t BAD, in and of itself really. Its sort of the classic template for big man matches of this type. But when you stack it up against how exciting and fast paced the show has been to this point, you couldn’t have sunk this show’s momentum faster if you had tied a cinderblock to it and thrown it in the bay. Big Show tries really valiantly at points to recover this, at one point even dropping the most improbable elbow drop in wrestling history.
But no matter how either of these guys try, they just don’t have any spark between them, and by the time the match ends, Madison Square Garden has been chanting the names of random wrestlers and things (D’Lo Brown! Sexual Chocolate! Colt Cabana! Egotistico Fantastico Is A Trouser Snake!) for at least 10 minutes straight. Then Henry goes to break some ankles, only to have the tides turned definitively by the Big Show, who promptly crushes the World’s Strongest Ankle to oblivion.
I mean, this match was what it was. It was never going to be some kind of exciting thing, but even by the standards of big guys plodding around it still managed to feel rather lifeless and didn’t seem to capture the crowd any more than it did me. Both guys are capable of better and have proved it recently, so I’m not worried about them going forward. But here, on this night, they were the C-C-C-C-C-C-C-COMBO BREAKER.
Cewsh: Wade Barrett is backstage and is talking about how awesome he is, when Awesome Truth show up and start talking about how mad they are about all the attention Rock and Cena are getting instead of them (fair complaint) and about how they’ll earn that attention tonight (unlikely). Well, Miz talks about that at least. Truth wants to talk about pigeons and how much he doesn’t particularly care for them. Which, I mean, fair enough I guess.
Cewsh: John Laurenitus is the new boss. Alberto Del Rio is his chosen champion. CM Punk is the little shit who wont just go away and stop bothering him. And this is the match that Laurentius never wanted to see take place, where a win by Punk could take the power of the championship completely out of Johnny Ace’s hands and place it firmly with the biggest wild card in the wrestling industry. To say that this is somewhat mirroring Austin/McMahon is somewhat like saying that Keira Knightly slightly resembles Natalie Portman in terms of being a massive fucking understatement. But there’s comfort in the familiar, and Punk really can’t do any wrong in my eyes, so let’s see where this takes us.
First and foremost, CM Punk is introduced by none other than the legendary Howard Finkel. Finkel gets a standing ovation from the crowd and milks it for roughly 12 hours, but he’s allowed because he’s Howard fucking Finkel and you’re not.
This Is The Only Man Who Should Ever Be Allowed To Announce Your Winner…AND NEEEEEEEEW WWE Champion.
Now, this is a match of two parts. The first part, which comprises the first 97% of the match or so, is slow paced, a little dull and solidly, if unspectacularly, wrestled. The LAST 3% of the match, by comparison, is absolutely on fire as these two men show that they both intimately understand how to milk a near fall for all its worth and absolutely grip the crowd into every single move that they make until finally Punk locks in the Anaconda Vice and damn near pulls Del Rio’s arm out of its socket. Then Punk crowd surfs, much to the dismay of arena security and celebrates winning back the title he never fairly lost.
So now we have a rebellious World Champion, an angry heelish authority figure and Wrestlemania on the horizon. Awwwwwwww yeah, I love it when a plan comes together.
75 out of 100.
Cewsh: Welcome, boys and girls, to the strangest match of the year.
Yes, including the Bob Sapp Gay Rules match.
Before we get into what actually happens here, its important to reflect on where this feud has been. A year ago, when the Rock first walked back into WWE and rocked our world, he immediately found himself at odds with WWE’s top star of this era, John Cena. Rock did his usual thing, tearing Cena down for his clothes and all, and Cena’s responses were all focused primarily on the fact that the Rock left, and that Cena cares more about the fans and WWE. Throughout this, the fans voted with their cheers that they didn’t care and they loved Rock anyway. This continued on until the Rock Rock Bottomed Cena in the main event of Wrestlemania and caused him to lose the match, and his title opportunity to Miz. Then Rock walked off into the sunset and everybody moved on, even though Cena never got any closure at all. Fast forward to now, and the Rock has come back to wrestle on this show. Awesome Truth needed dealing with and Cena chose the Rock to be his partner because he needs the best help available. Rock came back alright, but proceeded to tear into Cena even more, as Cena more or less stood there and took it. And that leads us to tonight.
Now we’re in Madison Square Garden. So when I tell you that the fans lose their goddamned minds for the Rock and promptly boo John Cena into the ground, I don’t think that information is going to blow your mind. But the EXTENT of the boos for Cena might, as MSG just gets after it from the moment Cena shows up until the second he walks through the curtain. The message is clear: “We choose The Rock.” As the match gets started, the Rock gets in there, and bafflingly starts throwing arm drags and doing Fisherman’s Suplexes like he’s Mr. fucking Perfect while everyone looks on wondering how 7 years of ring rust could make someone a BETTER wrestler.
Then Cena gets in and does some mat wrestling, showing up the Rock and the crowd buries him for it, booing him into oblivion (or Skyrim, as per your preference). Awesome Truth get heat on Cena for awhile, which kind of kills the fan’s excitement since they didn’t appear to know that other people were even in the match in the first place.
Then the Rock gets back in and kicks some more ass, nails the spinebuster and gives everyone exactly what they want with the People’s Elbow for the win.
That isn’t the real story though.
After the win, Cena starts walking to the back, clapping for the Rock, and trying to be a good sport about how its all about Rock tonight. Rock calls Cena back into the ring to tells him that he doesn’t want Cena’s applause and tells him to listen as the Rock climbs the ropes and plays to the crowd, getting huge cheers. Then he bids Cena to do the same, which he does sheepishly, and gets booed hugely. Rock then just rubs it in more and more that the fans love him more, and Cena takes some issue with being treated like that for no reason, at which point he is promptly Rock Bottomed.
So let’s summarize. At Wrestlemania, Cena defended himself after being verbally attacked, and then was assaulted in the main event. Now the Rock is openly mocking him and cheap shotting him at every opportunity as Cena’s patience begins to wear ever thinner. I think we all speculate that this will result in Cena exploding in some way, and man I can’t wait to see it. The fans chose the Rock, even though he did everything wrong, and will never choose Cena even while he does everything right. And at Wrestlemania we’ll see it all come to a head. Goosebumps, man.
But this was a match, wasn’t it? And you may have noticed that I only mentioned Awesome Truth roughly once in my review of it. That is because the match portion of this segment was so halfassed and lopsided that it wouldn’t have been out of place on Superstars back in the day. This was a squash match, and while Truth just disappeared into it, it was Miz trying so hard to get attention from the enormous gravitational pull of Cena and Rock that made me sad. This was a tag match with only one important side in the main event of a PPV. As such, it was what it was.
77 out of 100.
Cewsh: The first part of this show, up until about Show/Henry was so good that I watched it 3 times just for fun (including the Divas match). The Rock was exciting, Ziggler stole the show, the Elimination match had everything a match should have and it just made me hugely excited for the second half. Unfortunately, though, after the speed bump of the World title match, everything just kind of stayed slowed down until we arrived at the main event which was distinctly…weird. As a result this show feels a bit off balance to think about. But overall, I’m coming out of this feeling more positive about the future talent of WWE than I have in years, and in the direction of how very nearly everything is going. WWE are firing on all cylinders right now, without a doubt, and if they can keep it up going into the best 3 months of the year, then boys and girls, we’ve got ourselves a ball game.
Well that’ll do it for us this time boys and girls. We hope you enjoyed this abundantly belated review of WWE Survivor Series and all the wackiness involved therein. You wont have to wait nearly so long for our next review of TNA Final Resolution 2011, though in all honesty its entirely possible that’ll wish that you could. So until then, remember to keep reading, be good to one another and have a happy and safe holiday!