WWE Survivor Series 2011 was billed as the return of the Rock, and although he didn't disappoint the card as a whole did.
I will review each match using the following scale:
- 1 = poor match
- 2 = slightly below-average match
- 2.5 = average match
- 3 = good match
- 3.5 = very good match
- 4 = great match
- 4.5 = amazing match
- 5 = all-time match
The first match of the event pitted U.S. Champion Dolph Ziggler against Challenger John Morrison with the title on the line. Immediately as the match started the crowd chanted "We Want Ryder."
The match had good pacing and was fun to watch. Ziggler ended it after about 10 minutes with the zig-zag. After the match was over Zach Ryder ran to the ring to go at it with Ziggler, eventually hitting the Rough Ryder, quelling the crowd's thirst for the Long Island Iced Z.
This match scored a 3/5. I have watched better matches between these two, it was only 10 minutes in duration, and Morrison is not a credible threat in any way, shape, or form. If they were booked to have a 15 minute match it may have, and probably would have scored higher. It was a good opener to the show and provided a credible threat to Ziggler's U.S. title in Ryder.
The Divas championship bout between Challenger Eve Torres and Champion Beth Phoenix was next in the form of a Lumberjill Match. They were given five minutes to work, which was about five minutes too long. I like Phoenix, but she was sloppy here. Eve is just a disaster in the ring, although she has improved. Score: Meh.
The one and only, sadly, traditional Survivor Series elimination match was next. Team Barrett consisting of Wade Barrett, Cody Rhodes, Hunico, Jack Swagger, and Ziggler battled Team Orton consisting of Randy Orton, Sheamus, Sin Cara, Mason Ryan, and Kofi Kingston.
The match started off at a leisurely pace and slowed to a crawl when Sin Cara went for a diving plunge to the outside of the ring only to hurt his ankle and/or knee. I was unsure whether Sin Cara actually hurt himself or if it was part of the plan.
After Sin Cara was carried off the match picked up the pace a bit. Sheamus was soon disqualified leaving Orton alone to face Barrett, Rhodes, Hunico, and Swagger. At this moment I was thinking that Orton is going to pull off a miracle and beat all four, or Christian was going to interfere and cost Orton the match. I was wrong on both counts.
Orton eventually eliminated Swagger due to Sheamus Brogue Kicking him before he left the ring, and Hunico with a big RKO. Barrett and Rhodes worked together to distract Orton, and eventually Barrett hit the Wasteland fireman's carry for the pin. Not a great match and the pacing was slow, so I'll give it a 2.75/5.
I was surprised, but happy with the booking. Barrett continues to get his deserved push, and the intercontinental champion doesn't get pinned. I do not like Sheamus as a face, the crowd seemed dead for him, and his signature moves consist of beating his opponent across the chest and a shoulder block. He needs to diversify his game. I was glad to see Mason Ryan get eliminated early, as even though he has a good look and is intense, he can't wrestle and has the charisma of an eggplant.
As a Mark Henry Mark I was excited to see the next match; the World's Strongest Man versus the Big Show for the World Heavyweight Title. The Big Show received no crowd reaction at all, where as Henry got some pop and even had his name chanted at one point early in the match.
It was a classic big man match with a slow pace and power moves. Henry eventually hit Big Show in the groin and was disqualified. Big Slow then attacked Henry and followed up with a leg drop onto Henry's chair infused ankle leaving Mark writhing in pain.
I'll be generous and give this match a 2.75/5, as it didn't top their match at Vengeance and was too lethargic for a higher score.
The Big Show's Randy Savage elbow drop off the top rope was well done. The crowd chanted Mark Henry's name, "Daniel Bryan", "Holy Shit", "This is Boring", and "Randy Savage". They seemed more interested in what they could yell then in the actual match. I can't really blame them as the pace of the match was very slow. I expect a slow pace from these two, but not that slow.
This clearly sets up the finale at the Tables Ladders and Chairs pay-per-view next month, although I do not like how WWE has gotten to this point with them. Henry was an unstoppable monster beating Orton clean, and now the Big Slow comes in and dominates. That doesn't make sense to me as the Big Show is as interesting as a potato.
CM Punk challenged Champion Alberto Del Rio for the WWE championship next. Punk came out to a big pop, and constant chants of his name sounded throughout the match. These two have been involved in very good triple threat matches with both Cena and Rey Mysterio in the past, as well as working good singles matches together. I expected this match to top them all, however it didn't. Punk forced Del Rio to submit to the anaconda vice after a weak struggle from the champion.
The pacing was too slow for these two. I would hesitate to call their effort lackadaisical, but it wouldn't be wrong to say so. The match simply didn't feel like a WWE championship match. It was only 17 minutes in length, had too many rest holds, and had what seemed to me to be too quick of a finish. There wasn't much resistance from Del Rio.
Maybe I am holding them to unattainable standards, however I consider Punk and ADR to be two of the top five workers in the WWE, and I have watched them work magic in the past. I expected more from a WWE title match between wrestlers of this caliber. I will score the match a 3/5.
The Rock made his long awaited return for the main event. He teamed with John Cena and took on the team of The Miz and R-Truth. The match was simple and formulaic. The Rock beat down Awesome Truth, he tagged in Cena who got beat down, which ended when Rock hot tagged in and pinned the Miz with the People's Elbow.
It was a predictable outcome, but that is okay due to the fact that this was a showcase for the Rock as I said in my prior column. The Rock looked phenomenal in the ring. He was wrestling two subpar workers in Truth and Miz, however Rocky was sharp and technical. In his limited time he was still better than anyone else in the Survivor Series in-ring. The match deserves a 3.5/5 due to the Rock and the Rock alone.
After the match the Rock humiliated Cena by climbing the ropes and getting a big pop, while prodding Cena to do the same only for Cena to get boo'ed heavily. The Rock eventually hit the Rock Bottom on Cena and posed for the crowd as the camera faded out.
Overall the event was delivered at a leisurely pace and didn't seem to have any importance or emphasis placed on anything. There wasn't a match that was a total dud, however I was unable to give a score of higher than 3.5. That disappoints me as Survivor Series used to be a great event and is still considered to be one of the big four. I would give the event as a whole a 6/10. Above average, but not very good. It was still much better than anything TNA could produce.
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- I thought Del Rio would retain the championship until the TLC pay-per-view. I wonder what his future has in store after he likely loses to Punk at TLC.
- The booking of Henry has been terrible lately, and now he is potentially injured. I hope he isn't, and finishes off the Big Show in devastating fashion at TLC to regain at least some credibility as a monster.
- Booker T has improved a lot since starting on SmackDown. I would have preferred Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler, but at least Booker wasn't unbearable as he has been in the past.
- It's interesting to see what they do with Cena between now and WrestleMania. He is at a crossroads of sorts.
- Although it's hard to tell on TV I would rank the biggest pops in this order; 1. The Rock, 2. CM Punk, 3. Zach Ryder. Big Show and Sheamus were met with indifference. Orton received a smaller pop than I would he would, and Kofi bigger than I thought he would.
- Having Howard Finkel back was a great touch by Punk. He is far, far better than Chimel or Roberts.
- The guy carrying the "Repo Man HOF 2012" sign during the Henry-Show match is a man among men. A genius, a revolutionary, a hero. Great job, whoever you are.