Mike Reviews Every WWE Survivor Series Main Event – Part Five (2011 to 2015)
By Michael Fitzgerald on 28th November 2020
Well here we are its back to Reviewing Main Events, starting with one of WWE’s traditional “Big Four” pay per view events of the year in the form of Survivor Series.
The original Survivor Series was created in 1987 as a way for WWE to mess with Jim Crockett Promotions, as they were holding Starrcade on the same day. JCP’s plan was to switch their show to a different timeslot so that fans could buy both events, but Vince McMahon then threatened to withhold WrestleMania IV from the pay per view companies if they showed JCP’s show, which led to a lot them refusing to carry Starrcade as a result.
Despite only existing as a way to mess with another company, WWE decided to keep the event going and it’s still around to this day. The early events started out with just Elimination Tag Team bouts, but as the years wore on they started adding normal match types as well, with the show eventually becoming more of a regular pay per view that had a token Survival match here or there.
This week we’ll be looking at the Main Events from 2011 to 2015
I haven’t done one of these for a while, so I’ll make it clear than I class the “Main Event” as the match that went on last. People get annoyed at that definition sometimes, but my opinion is that the match that closes the show is the most important one due to it being the lasting memory of the event, which makes it a Main Event in my book. If you disagree then fair enough, but I’m afraid that that’s how I’m going to do it.
WWE Survivor Series 2011
The Miz and R-Truth Vs The Rock and John Cena
This was Rock’s first official match in WWE since 2004 and it was already announced that he was going to wrestle Cena at Mania XXVIII, so this match was set up partly as a way to hype that eventual collision. Cena had strangely chosen Rock as his partner, rather than have him assigned, even though in storyline the two guys didn’t get on. Miz and Truth had been getting a bit of a push at the time, storming a pay per view and attacking guys in an effort to try and get some heat on them as a duo. From memory, the story was that the heels could take Cena when the odds were uneven, but he could defeat them easily in one on one situation’s, so he basically brought in Rock to even up the odds and assure himself a feud ending victory.
Rock gets to shine on the heels to start, with his stuff mostly looking good and the crowd being into it. They tease dissension between the two faces though, with Cena coming in to clock Miz at one stage, which leads to the referee missing the fact that Rock has Truth pinned with a Perfect Plex. Cena gets to do a bit of shine as well, with the hostile MSG crowd of course pooping all over it, and that leads to Rock and Cena having some more dissension, which leads to the heels managing to cut Cena off for some heat.
Miz and Truth aren’t an especially bad team, with Truth being a good worker and Miz doing just fine as second banana in a heel duo, but the crowd don’t really buy either one of them as a top guy and the match pretty much grinds to a halt once the heat segment starts as the crowd actively hates Cena and doesn’t care about seeing him making a comeback. The loudest the crowd get is when they do the duelling chants, with the chicks and kids chanting for Cena whilst the dudes chant that he hoovers things up.
Miz and Truth eventually make the mistake of attacking Rock during one of Cena’s failed tag attempts, which finally gives Rock the motivation to actually start taking this heat segment seriously rather than not really being bothered that his Mania opponent is getting worked over. This is smart from a crowd reaction perspective, as it makes them actually want to see Rock tag in to give the heels theirs, which leads to some actual heat from them when Rock eventually gets the tag. Rock does a good hot tag segment, with everything looking sharp and the crowd digging it.
Having a part-timer come in a whomp the supposed top heel team like this doesn’t necessarily help them very much of course, but the crowd isn’t really fussed about that and has bought tickets to see Rock hit all his signature moves and look good whilst doing it, which they eventually get, with Cena taking out Truth so that Rock is able to drop the People’s Elbow on Miz for the three count.
WINNERS: ROCK & CENA
Nothing especially bad in this or anything, but it was really just a pretty heatless generic tag match when Rock wasn’t involved. His stuff looked good at least, and suggested that he’d be able to deliver in the big Mania match for any people who were on the fence and weren’t sure whether he still had enough in the tank
Rock and Cena have an argument post-match, which leads to Rock laying Cena out and kind of coming across as a jerk to be honest. The crowd enjoys it at least, but man, Cena didn’t really do anything to deserve that and Rock looked a bit like a petulant ass. Cena was even happy to leave and let Rock have his moment, but Rock purposely called him back just so that he could attack him.
WWE Survivor Series 2012
Champ: CM Punk w/ Paul Heyman Vs John Cena Vs Ryback
Punk had gone heel in the summer and run afoul of both Cena and Ryback in the process, thus leading to this match. Having Ryback in this one was actually a bit of a controversial call, as he’d gotten really over by steamrolling people but then done his first high profile job since his repackaging to Punk in a Hell in a Cell match. However, he had lost that match in screwy fashion due to dodgy heel referee Brad Maddox, and thus hadn’t been hurt too badly by the loss. As a result, sticking him in yet ANOTHER situation where he was going to fail seemed really counterproductive, and indeed by the end of the year he was just another guy on the roster and they eventually turned him heel post-Mania after he’d done a job for Mark Henry.
They even let Ryback come out last here, thus positioning him as the top guy in the match. I’m hardly of the opinion that Ryback was this great worker or anything, but he got himself really over and it was pretty maddening that they threw it all away. I’m not saying they should have taken the belt off Punk, but maybe they could have put someone like Kane in here instead whilst Ryback ploughed through an entire Survivor Series team by himself so that they could heat him back up again? There was an added twist here as well, that Punk would reach 365 days as Champ if he was able to survive.
They tell the typical story of a cocky heel going at it with two bigger faces in a Triple Threat situation, with Punk coming in to get some cheap shots whilst Cena and Ryback play it straight. It sadly falls into the usual Triple Threat formula of two guys going at it inside whilst another sells outside, which is really worn out these days. I much prefer it when all three guys regularly interact and work spots with one another throughout the match. It probably wouldn’t bother me as much if WWE actually mixed it up a bit and didn’t working seemingly EVERY Triple Threat match like this. Variety is the spice of life but WWE seems utterly averse to it for some reason.
The crowd chants “Feed Me More” for Ryback at points, and does the usual booing of Cena now and then, but aside from that the heat is pretty lacking. The action has been fine for the most part, even though Punk has been a bit listless in comparison to his usual pay per view Main Event efforts from this period. On the whole it’s been a serviceable multi-man effort, and it does build relatively well, with the action picking up the longer it goes on. Ryback gets the big monster spot by flinging the other two guys out of the ring in preparation for some tabilization, but they turn the tables (No pun intended) and end up giving him a double suplex through the English table.
Definitely one for Maffew’s “You Talk Too Much” segment if he’s never done this match before, as Punk audibly yelled “Look at me” at Cena before they did the suplex, possibly to make sure Cena went at the same time as he did. I can just picture Punk being the grumpiest grump who ever grumped backstage during this period, with him snapping at people like that quite a lot. I mean, he was likely hurting and bordering on miserable, with the added bugbear of the end of his Title reign being on the horizon, so I can kind of sympathise. They do the submission tease of Cena having Punk in the STFU, but Ryback recovers in time to pull Cena out of the ring and then hits the Shellshock on Punk for the apparent win, only for Cena to break up the pin at the last minute.
Ryback Shellshocks Cena as well, which is the cue for The Shield to make their WWE debut as a unit, with them yet to really differentiate their gear like they would as the group would continue to develop over the coming months. Ryback ends up taking a Triple Power Bomb through another table, which allows Punk to pick the bones and pin the knocked out Cena for three.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: CM PUNK
Historic debut at the end there, but the match itself never really kicked into the higher gear you’d want it to in order for it to gain a better rating. Still, it was mostly good and The Shield would all end up going on to become big stars
WWE Survivor Series 2013
Champ: Randy Orton Vs Big Show
Big Show had been fired earlier in the year by Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, but he had threatened a lawsuit and The Authority ended up caving in to give him his job back and a shot at Orton’s belt for good measure. Orton does the old “cowardly heel keeps running away from the big monster babyface” shtick in the early going, with Show getting the odd shot in when the opportunity allows. The crowd mostly sits on their hands whilst others chant for “Daniel Bryan”, who is the guy they actually wanted in the spot as challenger, but they’d blown that off the previous month and he was all set to go heel with the Wyatt Family. Thankfully they ended up listening to the fans eventually by the time Mania XXX rolled around.
Orton eventually manages to cut Show off and works some heat, which just looks silly and probably explains why they always kept turning Show back heel, as it’s far easier to make him a big monster heel rather than a big monster babyface. That doesn’t last long and Show makes the comeback, which leads to some brawling outside the ring. Show actually decides to try and head up top, but Orton cuts him off and then DDT’s him back into the ring, in what looked like it was going to be a really impressive spot until he just dragged Show back in so he was on his knees before dropping him with the DDT, which gets about as warm a reception as flatulence in a place of worship would.
Show manages to survive the devastating 1 foot drop his head suffered onto the canvas and replies with the Choke Slam for two, which leads to Orton bailing so that he doesn’t have to eat a knuckle sandwich. The ref ends up taking a bump and that leads to Orton trying a chair, which Show fends off, and then having another DDT attempt blocked with a big punch outside the ring. Show puts Orton’s limp body back inside the ring, at which point Triple H, Stephanie and Kane come down to watch from the aisle. The distraction is enough for Orton to catch Show with an RKO and then follow up with The Soccer Kick of DOOM for the three count.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: RANDY ORTON
This would have been fine as a top of the hour match on Smackdown, but it wasn’t really up to the level you’d want from a pay per view Main Event, especially after Orton had been having some genuine Main Event calibre matches with Daniel Bryan for the previous couple of months. WWE has always overdone the distraction finish too, and it would have been much more impressive to let Orton actually cheat to win all on his own somehow. I mean, you couldn’t have him clock Show with some brass knuckles or something and have him win that way?
World Champ John Cena comes down following the match to face off with Orton, which set up a match between them at the next pay per view to unify the belts, a unification that lasted less than three years before they did another brand split in 2016.
WWE Survivor Series 2014
If The Authority loses then they are removed from power, if Team Cena loses then everyone but Cena is fired
Team Authority: Seth Rollins, Kane, Luke Harper, Mark Henry and Rusev w/ Jamie Noble, Joey Mercury, Lana, Stephanie McMahon and Triple H
Team Cena: John Cena, Dolph Ziggler, Erick Rowan, Big Show and Ryback
The Authority heel stable had been screwing with Cena, so they set this match up as the next step in the story. My regular interest in the product was starting to wane around this period (And indeed I think one of the last times I ever watched an entire Raw in full was the night after this one) but I think they added the stip for Cena’s team to make you think they could lose and Cena would end up getting them their jobs back somehow.
They do a hilarious opening spot, where Triple H fires up Henry, only for him to run right into a Big Show punch to eliminate him.
Mark Henry Eliminated by Big Show (1) – Punch
Triple H and Stephanie sell that fantastically, with big open mouthed facial expressions, leading to Triple H having his head in his hands. That was a pretty darn great way to start the match actually. It reminded me a bit of the time Shawn Michaels pinned Mike Knox and then turned around to ask who he was. Cena still gets booed when he tags in, despite the fact he’s going against the hated heel bosses. They tease the big Rowan Vs Harper collision, but Rollins blind tags to stop that, which leads to Rowan doing his Animal Steele wild babyface act. Things settle down into a standard babyface shine, with a heel coming in and taking some bumps for one of the faces. Things break down following a Ryback and Rusev segment, which leads to everyone brawling around the ring. That allows Rollins to sneak in with a cheap shot on Ryback though, and Rusev adds a running kick to eliminate him.
Ryback Eliminated by Rusev (1) – Running Kick
Everyone has looked decent here thus far, with Show having some good fire and Rollins being great as the snide heel captain for his team, coming in to get cheap shots and just generally being a hateable little sod. They strangely decide to work some heat on Big Show, even though he’d make way more sense as a hot tag guy. It’s actually Ziggler who gets the tag, and he’s moving at 100mph tonight, but he quickly gets cut off as well. He sells the attacks from the heels well and the crowd gets behind him, as this was a period where it was looking like he might actually break through the ceiling.
Ziggler continues to get whomped by the heels, with Rusev in particular looking impressive as he was also getting the big rocket push at the time as a heel foreign menace and hadn’t even eaten a pin or submission loss yet. Some of Zigglers bumping here is really wild, and it looks like he’s bordering on trying to end his career early at points. He eventually manages to DDT Rusev for two, which leads to everyone running in again. Hold on *checks watch* ah yes, I do believe that it’s FINSIHER MADNESS! Everyone hits a big move, with Rusev eventually power bombing Ziggler out onto everyone else from inside the ring. Rusev preps the announce tables following that so he can do the old Umaga spot of running across one table to splash an opponent through the other, but Ziggler ends up moving and that leads to Rusev crashing through the table and getting counted out to keep his no jobs streak going.
Rusev Eliminated by Count Out
Jamie Noble was great there as the little jobsworth telling the ref to stop counting and then yelling at him following the decision. Fans are so happy that Rusev is gone that they start chanting “USA”. To be honest, they shouldn’t have even put Rusev in this one to begin with if he wasn’t winning, but that was probably the best way to eliminate him once he was in. We get more FINISHER MADNESS (T-Shirts on sale soon) once Rusev is gone, which finally gives us the big Rowan Vs Harper showdown, with the crowd being into Rowan giving Harper a kicking. Rowan looks good too, as he gets to bump the other heels around whilst also taking on Harper, but another cheapshot from Rollins allows Harper to get the Discus Clothesline to eliminate Rowan.
Erick Rowan Eliminated by Luke Harper (1) – Discus Clothesline
Big Show decides at this point that the odds aren’t looking good and does his 177th face/heel turn to punch out Cena so that Rollins can pin him, thus getting himself out of the fired stipulation.
John Cena Eliminated by Seth Rollins (1) – Big Show Punch
Big Show Eliminated by Count Out
Ziggler is now in the Bam Bam 87 role, whilst the heels all gurn about their impending victory. Some of the fans are hoping that Randy Orton will show up to help Ziggler, but he ends up catching Kane with a Zig-Zag out of nowhere to reduce the heel’s numbers.
Kane Eliminated by Dolph Ziggler (1) – Zig-Zag
Technically you could argue that was Zigglers 2nd elimination if you want to give him credit for what happened to Rusev. Ziggler goes right back to selling following that, but that elimination of Kane has given the crowd some hope that he might actually do this, which continues as he keeps managing to kick out of Harper’s pin fall attempts. What’s good about this as they aren’t booking Ziggler like some kind of Superman, but rather a gutsy guy who just keeps managing to catch guys, which he does again when he manages to sneak another elimination with a cheeky roll up on Harper.
Luke Harper Eliminated by Dolph Ziggler (2) – School Boy
The crowd now believes in Ziggler even more than they did before. In a sane world this would have been the star making match that launched him into the top of the card forever, but they ended up botching it, because WWE. They continue smartly going with the story of Ziggler being constantly on the defensive but getting the odd move or roll up for a near fall before getting knocked right back down again. Triple H and Stephanie are fantastic at ringside reacting to it all as well. It’s really annoying when they constantly book Stephanie as the wrestling version of Unicron, as she can actually be a very good performer when they book her as a heel getting hers on the rare occasions that they actually do it.
Rollins’ stooges try to help out their boss but Ziggler fends them off and catches Rollins with the Zig-Zag, which leads to Triple H finally having enough and attacking the referee. Ziggler bravely keeps fighting against the odds, but he’s outnumbered. They smartly give him at least two visual pin fall victories to show that he had enough about him to win it on his own, so that what happens next doesn’t take the shine off the victory too much. Triple H takes out another ref and then lays a beat down on Ziggler which means we’ve reached…
Yes. We’ve reached that.
However, Ziggler gets an unexpected ally in the form of Sting, who makes his WWE debut to a massive crowd reaction. Sting gets the Scorpion Death Drop on Triple H before draping Ziggler on top of Rollins to give him a deserved win and banish The Authority from WWE for all of a month until they brought them back again, even though not having a heel boss made the show ten times more refreshing at the time.
SOLE SURVIVOR: DOLPH ZIGGLER
MOST ELIMINATIONS: DOLPH ZIGGLER (3)
Classic Survivor Series styled storytelling there, as they put Ziggler in the impossible situation, and he totally delivered. This show actually energised me to give the product another chance after months of boring heel authority antics, but they immediately started teasing that they were coming back and I checked out again
WWE Survivor Series 2015
Deadly Game (Cause It’s A Deadly Game!) Part Two: The Deadening
WWE Heavyweight World International Grand Prix Global Honoured Crown Planetary Alliance Championship
Roman Reigns Vs Dean Ambrose
Seth Rollins had been the Champ and was due to defend here against Reigns, but he ended up getting injured so they vacated the belt and did a tournament for it. Going in there was all kind of speculation as to how they would book this, with some thinking they’d finally pull the trigger on a much requested heel turn for Reigns by having him go Corporate like The Rock did in 1998, whilst others thought they’d pull a swerve and actually have Ambrose go heel instead. To be honest, Ambrose going Corporate would have probably been awesome if they’d really gone the whole hog with it by having him wearing a suit and styling his hair all fancy. Heck, turning Reigns and having him be a jerk in a suit who battered babyfaces would have likely finally gotten him over as the top star they wanted him to be, but WWE had other plans.
Reigns had defeated everyone’s favourite alleged kidnapper and all around scumbag Alberto Del Rio in the Semi-Finals, whilst Ambrose had defeated Kevin Owens in one of their many stellar outings. They waste no time going right at it here, with the crowd clearly favouring Ambrose over Reigns. Man, it was right there on a plate for them to have Reigns screw Ambrose over here to win the belt, and they would have had a cracking Main Event all set up for Mania between the two as well that would have actually gotten us out of part-timer purgatory too. The action itself is good, with both men fighting outside the ring leading into Ambrose working over Reigns’ arm back inside the ring.
Reigns fights back following that and folds Ambrose up with a pair of power bombs, but Ambrose keeps coming. This one has been all action, as it feels like they are trying to squeeze everything into their allotted time. The result has been an exciting high tempo match for the most part, but it might have been nicer for them to get more time to really build up the great match they were likely capable of having. Again, if they were actually coming back to this down the line following a SWERVE here then they could have come back with the proper match later on.
Each man manages to hit the other with a finishing move for some near falls, with the crowd really biting on Ambrose’s attempt when he catches Reigns with the Dirty Deeds. We get the old “Yay! Boo!” punch trade-off between the two, with Ambrose getting the yay’s, and that leads into Ambrose indulging his inner Stone Cold by stomping a mud hole. However, before he’s able to walk it dry, Reigns springs out of the corner with a Spear and that’s enough for the pin and the Title
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: ROMAN REIGNS
Good match, but a bit short at just 9 minutes and you felt they could have done more if they’d been given more time to build it up rather than just going straight into a sprint
Confetti falls and they finally have Reigns as the Champ, so they promptly have Sheamus (Who had lost earlier in the night) come down and cash in Money in the Bank to win the Title, thus ripping the rug out from under Reigns after finally giving him his coronation. Just imagine, if you will, if right after Hulk Hogan had defeated The Iron Sheik to win the WWF Title in 1984 they sent out Killer Khan to beat him in 30 seconds so that he could “chase” the Title.
His entire run would have died a screaming hot death. This is what was so annoying about their attempts to make Reigns the top guy, as they’d push him at the expense of everyone else but then still fail to pull the trigger on him when it was actually time. I’ve never known a top babyface to fail so many times. And yet, when they turned him heel it’s like a light switch went off in their heads and they thought “Hey, maybe if we had him win a lot, and look dominant whilst doing so, it might actually make him look like a star?”
How would I have done it? I would have had Ambrose win, only for Sheamus to run down and Brogue Kick him, before handing the case to Reigns. Triple H could stand in the aisle and nod to show he was allowing the transfer of the briefcase. Reigns would act conflicted at first, but then just plough through Ambrose to officially go heel. You then have Ambrose win the Rumble and feud with Triple H’s goons until dethroning Reigns at Mania for his revenge in the “rubber” match
That performance from Ziggler in 2014 was the definite highlight this time out.
We’ll finish these off next week with 2016 to 2020, at which point we’ll move on to Starrcade to draw a line under these Main Event reviews.