Breaking Down the Best and Worst of the WWE for Week of Nov. 25
Survivor Series, and the week that followed it, was a showcase of WWE's best and worst traits.
Great chemistry between The Wyatt Family and its latest foes, a traditional Survivor Series elimination match, two former world champions and two NXT stalwarts made Thanksgiving week one to treasure. To counterbalance all that brilliance, WWE also made some misguided choices.
Michael Strahan, Big Show and the cast Total Divas were at the center of the company's most tedious and irritating moments.
The WWE pessimist will end the week remembering a gaggle of Divas taking the fun out of a Survivor Series tradition, while the optimist will hold fast to the image of Roman Reigns crashing into his opposition.
Best: The Wyatt Family's Chemistry with Daniel Bryan and CM Punk
WWE has found the ideal pair of foes to elevate The Wyatt Family.
As seen in their tag team match at Survivor Series and their handicap match on Monday's Raw, CM Punk and Daniel Bryan have fantastic chemistry with the bearded clan. Strength and barbarity complement speed and skill perfectly when these two teams collide.
Sunday's tag match was a straight-ahead classic battle and one of the pay-per-view's best offerings.
Bray Wyatt slithered into the fray during Monday's Raw and the excellence continued. After an engaging bout ended in chaos, The Wyatt Family provided one of night's most buzz-inducing moments. The trio left Punk lying in pain inside the ring while it abducted Bryan.
That image boosts the excitement factor of this rivalry and leaves fans wondering what will happen next. The one certainty is that Punk and Bryan will have a number of additional high-quality clashes.
Worst: Diva Elimination Match, 2 Times over
The traditional Survivor Series elimination tag team match is designed to create drama via mismatches and various combinations of foes facing off. The 14-Diva version from Survivor Series was a cheap shell of that bout with the drama drained from it.
A single, basic move eliminated many of the Divas.
Rather than building suspense, the match hurried along, whittling down the competitors in a way that had none of the fun fans expect from this type of clash. WWE then decided to essentially give an encore performance the very next night.
The rematch on Monday's Raw had all the flaws of the first: too little time to showcase any of the wrestlers, a rushed pace, eliminations coming too easily.
In an attempt to cram in all of the cast from Total Divas, WWE is holding its entire Divas division back. AJ Lee, Tamina Snuka, Kaitlyn and Natalya will struggle to shine if forced to compete in clumsy, crowded matches like these.
Best: Traditional Elimination Tag Team Match
The traditional elimination bout from Survivor Series was more than a launching pad for Roman Reigns' future—it was a reminder of how great that format can be.
Everywhere the Divas version failed, the Superstars' elimination tag team match delivered.
Every wrestler had a share of the spotlight. The action was excellent, the suspense buzzed.
The heel team lost three members in a row: Dean Ambrose, Jack Swagger and Antonio Cesaro. That left Reigns and Seth Rollins left to play catchup.
They charged back, tearing through the opposition. Like a basketball team down 3-1 in a seven-game series, Reigns and Rollins couldn't afford to make many mistakes. Their journey from being on the brink of defeat to outlasting their rivals was a thrill ride.
Reigns ended the night with four eliminations on his resume, spearing Rey Mysterio, Goldust and others with the impact of a wrecking ball hitting a wall. He now possesses a great moment to boast about, momentum dripping off him.
Expect him to get a major push in the coming months, this great match a huge catalyst for it.
Worst: Michael Strahan on Miz TV
Kayfabe is admittedly not what it was when crowds would respond to a heel's dastardly actions by trying to stab them, but the Miz TV segment with Michael Strahan urinated on what's left of it.
There were several references to WWE not being "real." In addition, Miz, a former WWE champ, was unable to execute a hip toss on Strahan. Titus O'Neil failed in that endeavor as well.
Strahan, though, was able to take both men down with ease. The moment seemed to imply that NFL players are real athletes while downplaying the athletic ability of WWE Superstars. The segment weakened the perception of the Miz and O'Neil, with little entertainment in return.
Breaking character and pointing out WWE's scripted nature is a bad move.
Matt Hardy said it best when he tweeted that, "A fictional show doesn't have 2 be complex. If it sets parameters, stay true 2 them, makes sense, keeps continuity, it works."
Best: Alberto Del Rio vs. Dolph Ziggler on Main Event
Dolph Ziggler and Alberto Del Rio continue to produce stellar matches together whether there's a storyline or not, regardless if it takes place on pay-per-view or TV.
On Wednesday's Main Event, "The Show Off" took on Del Rio in one of the most compelling and most technically sound matches of the week. The two foes seemed to hit each other with the biggest swings they had, leaving them drained and flustered, bordering on desperation.
Del Rio hit a ring-rattling reverse suplex and later turned Ziggler's Fameasser attempt into a powerbomb.
Thanks to his Cross Armbreaker, Del Rio claimed victory. That journey to that moment was a reminder of how great these two enemies' chemistry is and what wrestling looks like when the performers empty the contents of their hearts onto the mat.
Worst: The Ending to Big Show vs. Randy Orton at Survivor Series
The major focus going into Survivor Series was on Big Show and Randy Orton. Their match was the most disappointing one on the card.
The Authority had promised no physical interference but ended up appearing near the end of the match, distracting Big Show long enough for Orton to take the big man down.
It felt like how a match on Raw would end, not the main event of a "Big Four" pay-per-view. It's strange how much WWE built this match up only to have it wrap up in such anticlimactic fashion. Survivor Series gave fans a number of entertaining matches, but many a fan walked away with an unpleasant taste in their mouth thanks to this bout.
Defeat by way of being distracted by enemies coming to ringside is an uninteresting, uninspired route.
It caps off a run of underwhelming endings to recent pay-per-view main events, something WWE hopefully avoids when Orton takes on John Cena at TLC 2013.
Best: Adrian Neville vs. Sami Zayn on NXT
If you're not including NXT in your weekly WWE experience, you're missing out on intriguing characters, effective storytelling and superb wrestling. The Nov. 27 episode was further proof of that.
The show began with an entertaining Antonio Cesaro-Yoshi Tatsu battle and ended with one of the best offerings of the week.
Last week, Sami Zayn and Adrian Neville tied in a Beat the Clock challenge to decide the No. 1 contender for the NXT Championship held by Bo Dallas. This week offered a playoff—a single match to determine Dallas' opponent next week.
Dazzling speed and dramatic body language powered an excellent bout.
Zayn hit a number of Spinning Doctor Bombs but was unable to put Neville away. He soared at his foe, and Neville did the same.
In the end, it was Neville's Red Arrow that resulted in a three-count, setting up a Neville vs. Dallas showdown. After the match, Neville tried to shake Zayn's hand. Zayn kicked his hand away and hugged him instead.
Two friends produced first-rate wrestling. Both men will make valuable additions to the main roster in the near future. They continue to flourish, as they did in this contest, something WWE is surely taking notice of.