As we try to process what Survivor Series 2012 brought us, the buzz that is felt after the event surrounds Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins debuting to interfere in the triple threat WWE Championship match. The trio of developmental talent interrupted the title match that ultimately saw CM Punk get a pinfall and leave with his 364-day WWE Championship reign still intact.
If you take that finish away from what was a pretty pedestrian main-event match, the best match of the night was the Traditional Survivor Series match between Team Foley and Team Ziggler.
It was the match that showed us why Dolph Ziggler was the captain of his own Survivor Series team. It also proved to us that The Miz as a babyface may be here to stay. No matter how you slice it, the best quality match of the night was the Team Foley vs. Team Ziggler match.
This was a match that was under a lot of scrutiny for the changes constantly made to it. In just three weeks, the match was made for Team Foley against Team Punk. Three-fifths of Team Punk differed from the original announcement, including the removal of CM Punk as team captain. As for Foley's team, perhaps their strongest participant in Ryback was removed and replaced with The Miz, who originally was on Team Punk.
The match went on with what seemed to be spare parts, especially when Cody Rhodes was forced to sit out with an injury and be replaced by David Otunga. Otunga had no real link into the match and his abilities are not nearly as touted as those of Rhodes. Even still, Otunga found a way to last a bit longer than what may have been expected, being the third overall and second from Team Ziggler eliminated.
Eliminations seemed to be passed around rather evenly. The nine eliminations were done by seven different superstars. Only Otunga, Damien Sandow and Kofi Kingston went through the match without eliminating someone. Alberto Del Rio and Dolph Ziggler were the two men who eliminated two members each. No one man truly dominated the match and nobody seemed significantly weak. It was a well-balanced elimination tag team match.
If anyone took control of the bout, it was Del Rio, who had two eliminations within a few minutes of one another. Del Rio eliminated both Daniel Bryan and The Miz, two former world champions, giving Team Ziggler a 2-on-1 advantage with only Randy Orton remaining for Team Foley. Del Rio tried to finish off Orton himself, but Orton is a veteran of these match types and is used to being a sole survivor. After Del Rio was gone, it was down to Ziggler and Orton.
Orton looked to have the match at hand and got ready to punt Ziggler in the skull. Instead, Ziggler played possum, delivered an incredible kick to Orton and won the Survivor Series match as the captain and the sole survivor. That combination shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. It marked the seventh year in a row that a captain of a Survivor Series team was a survivor in his team's victory. The last year without that happening was 2005, when Orton was the sole survivor for Team Smackdown.
Ziggler's stock finally got that quality victory that can be traced back to his elevation to the next level. There was no Vickie Guerrero to help matters out. There were no underhanded tactics to gain an advantage of any kind.
All that happened was Ziggler outsmarting Orton on a big stage and gaining major momentum heading into the rest of the year. Keep in mind as well that Ziggler holds a Money in the Bank briefcase still with a World Heavyweight Championship match whenever he wishes.
That title is still held by Big Show, but Ziggler's victory officially puts him on the map. While he may have been an afterthought to some and mainly just a guy that was lying under the radar, everyone is noticing Dolph Ziggler today. He won't be sneaking up on anyone at this point and it shouldn't be any other way. For Big Show, this is not another situation like Daniel Bryan from last year.
However, like Daniel Bryan, Ziggler could be cashing in at TLC, the site of Daniel Bryan's cash-in on Big Show one year earlier. It could be deja vu for Big Show, because it is hard to ignore the high that Ziggler is riding right now. It marks his fifth victory at Survivor Series, continuing his undefeated mark under the name of Dolph Ziggler. His only loss was as Nicky with The Spirit Squad.
Both Otunga and Sandow can now say that they were on the winning side of their Survivor Series debuts, while Del Rio can use his victory and his dominant eliminations to move himself back up the ladder. As for Wade Barrett, he can say that he defeated a team with Randy Orton for the second year in a row.
This match stole the show leading up to the main-event match. It will be that moment at the end that this event will ultimately be remembered for. However, it was the resident Show-Off who provides the performance of the night among all superstars this year at Survivor Series.