There was a time in World Wrestling Entertainment where the pay-per-views weren't all styled around a gimmick match of some sort. In fact, it used to be that other than the Royal Rumble and King of the Ring, the only other one was Survivor Series, wherein multiple teams of four would compete in elimination matches for seemingly no purpose other than bragging rights. As time went on, the number of competitors upgraded to five but the reason for the teams essentially stayed the same. When its done right, the teams can have a legitimate reason to feud with each other and some actual stakes on the line. Other times, it can just be a haphazard mess.
This year, the traditional Survivor Series elimination match is somewhere in the middle of those two realms. Originally, we had a true feud going on with two team captains that were looking to teach the other a lesson. The next week, it all was erased and turned into an unorganized but still interesting lineup.
There may not be anything on the line in terms of titles or power positions in the company, but each superstar does have something to gain or lose by being in this match. Let's break down each member of Team Foley and Team Ziggler and see where they stand and where they can go from here.
Remember how this was originally Team CM Punk? When they decided to remove CM Punk from the match, they changed the entire purpose of this match. It really makes you question whether or not they gave Survivor Series enough thought ahead of time. You can blame poor planning on their behalf for backing out just a week after announcing the match, or you can blame flat-out stupidity, but no matter what the reason, it still hurts the storyline. Luckily for WWE, it won't make that much of a difference, as the pay-per-view is going to sell merely on the idea that they're having a traditional Survivor Series elimination match and that CM Punk will defend the WWE Championship against Ryback and John Cena.
They should still have some kind of presence in this match to keep continuity. An easy way to do that would be to have Mick Foley on the outside representing his team and Paul Heyman on the outside showing support for Team Ziggler. That would at the very least make it feel as though the story is continuing instead of just being tweaked in a way that makes no sense.
The only way that CM Punk gains or loses anything out of this match without stretching it on the following episode of Raw is if Punk himself or Paul Heyman can be included in this segment in some capacity. Otherwise, we can just skip the whole point to begin with.
Alberto Del Rio is basically in this match because his feud with Orton doesn't have enough steam behind it to warrant a singles match. They had the big blowout to their feud in their Falls Count Anywhere match on Smackdown, and this is just the last step until they can move on to two other people. If the rumors are true that Randy Orton is the one that will be looking back on this feud from a higher place on the totem pole and not Alberto Del Rio, then my guess is Del Rio ends up as just another filler person in this match. I don't expect to see him accomplish much, and I wouldn't be too surprised if he was only responsible for eliminating one person on Team Foley (my guess being Kane or Kofi Kingston) before being eliminated by Randy Orton.
What does he have riding on this match? Unless they have a plan for Del Rio to jump right into a feud with someone else, he'll need to make a strong enough impression here to not fall by the wayside when the Road to WrestleMania picks up. It doesn't appear that he'll be a real focal point considering the likes of The Rock, Brock Lesnar and others that are guaranteed to have a presence, so Alberto can't job out here and have nowhere to go afterward without being stuck in the midcard for the next few months.
Back in the Survivor Series of yesteryear, tag teams used to make up the groups for Survivor Series quite a bit. This is the role that Rhodes Scholars will end up filling this year. We should see frequent tags between the two members of the team while the commentators say that they're a well-oiled machine in comparison to Team Hell No, and it only strengthens Team Ziggler's chances for victory. However, there's virtually no shot, in my opinion, of either member of Rhodes Scholars being left standing with this match.
Look for only one of them to possibly get an elimination, more than likely against a member of Team Hell No, with the other getting zero pinfalls. In particular, I'm expecting Cody Rhodes to catch an RKO for his elimination and Damien Sandow to get the pin on Daniel Bryan. This is the time for them to build up some steam towards possibly taking the WWE Tag Team Championship away from Team Hell No.
The Barrett Barrage has a chance to make an impact during this match in more than one way. Wade is filling the void left by The Miz but he'll be butting heads with Alberto Del Rio for the No. 2 spot on the team. Does WWE value Wade Barrett's push over Alberto Del Rio? One would think they don't if it took a rewrite to include Barrett on the team, but that could have come about from a wake-up call that fixed an oversight.
I wouldn't be surprised if Wade is booked strongly here, but I would be surprised if he were the sole survivor of the match. If he eliminates anybody, I'm expecting it to be Kofi Kingston or Kane, possibly to start a feud between the two. He could also be the one to take Randy Orton out of the match, but I don't see that as likely as the Kingston or Kane options.
It's hard to tell whether or not Dolph Ziggler should be thankful for this match or disappointed. Many people, myself included, thought it was a given that Dolph Ziggler and John Cena would have a singles match, or possibly be on opposite ends of a Survivor Series elimination match facing each other. Lo and behold, only half of that prediction turned out to be correct.
Dolph Ziggler is in an odd position that I feel is going to be overlooked in many ways. I'd be very surprised if he led Team Ziggler to victory, but at the same time, he simply can't lose. He needs to score at least one elimination and look somewhat strong. With the backstage segment on Raw where he belittled The Miz, it would make sense for Miz to be the one to eliminate him from this match and score the victory for Team Foley.
More importantly, though, is what happens after this. While Ziggler leaves and is made to look a fool, I think he'll play a role in the WWE Championship match finish to redeem himself. In particular, if Team Foley wins the elimination match, look out for Dolph Ziggler to attack John Cena, allowing CM Punk to retain the title by pinning him. Also, knowing WWE, if that were to happen, look out for an obligatory Dolph Ziggler and CM Punk tag team match against John Cena and The Miz on Raw the next night, which could quite possibly be the only semblance of unity between the old idea of Team CM Punk and the new one of Team Ziggler.
Now that Ryback and CM Punk have been taken out of the match, there's effectively no reason for Mick Foley to be involved. What's the storyline between these people? Wouldn't it have made much more sense to have changed this match to Team Cena against Team Ziggler? There have been rumors that Mick Foley could wrestle CM Punk for the WWE Championship at TLC. If this is what they indeed decided to go with, then I would assume Team Foley needs to win this match to give him a reason to challenge for it. A Mick Foley vs. CM Punk at TLC match could be an easy way to let CM Punk retain the title. It may also help transition us to the inevitable CM Punk vs. The Rock match if we can get a Rock 'n' Sock Connection segment.
Randy Orton is gearing up for a major push, possibly to the main event with the World Heavyweight Championship, so this should be a match that helps ease that transition quite a bit. You would think going into this that the feud he has with Alberto Del Rio will play a major role, but I'm not convinced that it will. Instead, I'm expecting Randy Orton to get one or two eliminations for Team Foley and to largely ignore the man who keeps calling himself the new Apex Predator.
In previous Survivor Series matches, two people that are feuding with each other have oftentimes battled outside the ring and both been counted out. While that's a possibility, to get these two out of the match looking strong, I don't think it will happen here. Instead, look out for Wade Barrett or Dolph Ziggler to get a quick pin on Randy Orton while he's distracted by Alberto Del Rio after eliminating him.
And what does Randy Orton stand to gain or lose during this match? Momentum with his main event push. He can make no impact and stay at the upper midcard level he's at now until the next pay-per-view, or he can be a true focal point and get a higher profile feud. My guess is the latter with that next feud being one with Big Show.
As evidenced by Daniel Bryan's actions towards The Miz on Monday Night Raw, this could be a perfect time for us to see Daniel Bryan and Kane eliminated due to their own inability to cope with each other. It's very easy to get at least one, if not both, of these members eliminated while they're arguing. If either of the two are able to eliminate a member of Team Ziggler, I'm assuming it will be Kane that can pin a member of Rhodes Scholars, but I don't think that will happen at all. In fact, I'd be surprised if Bryan or Kane ISN'T the first man pinned in the match. It may be time for them to drop the tag team championship to Rhodes Scholars, and this should be the beginning of the end for Team Hell No.
Kofi Kingston is in a weird spot right now on the roster. He's currently in the middle of a push back into prominence but they're clearly not putting all their eggs in his basket. This is probably going to be a good indicator of just how far they plan on keeping this push going. If Kofi gets some spotlight shined on him in some way, such as being one of the survivors of the match, you should expect to see Kofi keep the Intercontinental Championship until around WrestleMania time and then gear up toward an upper midcard role. If Kofi is utilized simply for a couple of jumping spots and a quick elimination by someone like Dolph Ziggler to put Team Foley in danger of losing, then more than likely the Kingston push has reached its limit. Kofi will end up being booked less frequently on Raw episodes, won't get many proper feuds for his title, and we'll see him slowly but surely slip into the obscurity that frequently happens with midcard champions.
If Kofi eliminates anybody, I'd expect it to be either Wade Barrett or Damien Sandow. Likewise, if Kofi is eliminated by anybody, I would expect it to be either Wade Barrett or Alberto Del Rio. It's sad to say for such a talented guy, but I just don't think this will be a career highlight for the Wildcat.
If there's any one person to watch out for in this match, it's The Miz. He's supposedly in line for a push, possibly after a babyface turn, and there have been some seeds sown that point to this. The revenge angle would state that Miz needs to be the factor that wins the match for Team Foley after leaving Team Ziggler. He could then feud with any member of Team Ziggler, such as Alberto Del Rio or Wade Barrett, who have nothing better to do after the pay-per-view.
Just as easily, though, this could all be a ruse. Instead of turning face and being the reason Team Foley wins, he could very well be the reason that Team Foley loses after backstabbing them. Being the ace in the hole to help out the heels is certainly not beyond the realm of possibility for a character like The Miz. Regardless of which outcome it may be, it seems as though The Miz is going to play a major role in the outcome of this match.
So who will end up on top between these two teams when all is said and done, and has The Miz played his part? If I had to place my bets on anyone, it would be Team Foley. What do you think is going to happen and who do you think will stand out as the stars of this match? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.