WWE Survivor Series 2011: A Live Perspective on the Electric Crowd & Much More
I was lucky enough to be in attendance at Survivor Series last night, so I figured I'd write up some notes about the show in general as well as things that may not have been apparent on TV.
Thanks to the turnstiles opening a bit too late, crowd flow issues that prevented me from seeing the Santino Marella vs Jinder Mahal dark match.
- This seemed like much more of an event than any WWE show I've ever been to, with more fans decked out in merchandise (lots of Zack Ryder shirts) on the train and at Penn Station than I can ever remember seeing.
- Ridiculously hot crowd all night, probably moreso than Summerslam '98 in the same building, the previous high water mark for me. Anything that didn't come off on TV was most likely from WWE turning down the crowd audio for chants that got in the way of matches or were pro-heel.
- Having said that, unless the the audio mix was different for the top matches, I cannot imagine what it was like being at Money in the Bank in Chicago in July, given how that crowd came across noticeably louder.
- In what I recall being different from the last pay-per-view event I was at (Great American Bash 2008), it was made clear when the TitanTron was showing the same shot as the TV feed, as the WWE & WWEHD logos only showed up then. There was a separate production crew in the arena that appeared to be the TitanTron counterpart to the team in the WWE mobile production unit.
- And no, we didn't get the shot that aired on PPV of a fan walking in front of the hard camera looking like a silhouette on a bootleg camcorder copy of a movie.
- Watching the ring crew gets bizarre and amusing. They changed the ring apron three times for no apparent reason. The guys who sneak in to take out and remove stuff (Sin Cara's trampoline and robe, Alberto Del Rio's carpet and car, etc.) do an impressive job of doing everything on cue and out of camera range.
- Boy, aside from the ceiling, that looked nothing like MSG, did it? Between the set blocking off a good 3,000-4,000 seats and none of the tunnels being visible, it was different. Live, it felt like the show benefited from having the big production that's not usually at MSG pay-per-view events.
- When you're behind the hard camera and fans in front of you are holding up signs, you feel like strangling them.
- The CM Punk-David Otunga promo fell a little flat live since it appeared to be the only pretaped backstage segment. It was the only one where the rhythm didn't reflect the crowd reactions.
- Alberto Del Rio's pyro cause a lot of smoke to cloud up that is never shown on TV and you can see the pyro rig burning for a good 10 seconds or more after the display stops.
Now, on to the show:
Dolph Ziggler vs John Morrison was a very good match marred by a crowd that passionately hated Morrison for randomly being inserted into it over Zack Ryder. It sounded like the crowd audio on TV was turned down during the match, as the "WE WANT RYDER!" chants, boos for Morrison, and cheers for Ziggler during the match were much louder live than they came off on TV. They were louder in the mix after the match when the chants fit the storyline better.
It wasn't passionate, but Beth Phoenix was cheered over Eve, who got some boos. The second rope Glam Slam got a big reaction as you'd expect.
The Rock's promo was one of the highlights of the night. Great work with the singalong being the icing on the cake.
In the Survivor Series match, it was obvious live that Sin Cara was legitimately injured. The production crew handling the TitanTron inserted a shot not shown on the PPV where, after he took his boot, his leg was turning bright red. It seemed like a lot of people were worrying that he broke his leg, but the concerns were alleviated when he didn't have to be stretchered out.
The match itself was pretty good with a great finish that got over well. Cody Rhodes was beloved, which again, didn't come across quite as well on TV as it did live.
The reaction to the new "Be a Star" spot was accompanied by cheers for most of the wrestlers, boos for Ariel Winter from ABC's "Modern Family," and massive boos for John Cena and former WCW Champion David Arquette.
Big Show and Mark Henry both got good reactions for their entrances and it seemed like most fans were hoping for a good match like the one they had last month, so it wasn't like they were being crapped on from the beginning. It wasn't really clear if the "Sexual Chocolate" chant directed at Henry was meant as a taunt or not.
This was a much better match on TV than it was live. Live it felt oddly slow-paced, leading to the crowd entertaining themselves with chants, but on TV it was a solid enough big man match, albeit not on the level of their war last month. Not making it clear to the fans in attendance that Daniel Bryan wasn't there was short-sighted given the nature and length of the post-match angle.
Howard Finkel as CM Punk's personal ring announcer was a great idea and his entrance was probably the most emotional moment of the night live. It sucks that it was ruined on the broadcast by the awful commentary bullying him for tearing up and gaining weight.
Punk and Alberto Del Rio had the best match of the night, with a hell of a finishing stretch. The title switch got the biggest pop of the night, bigger than The Rock's entrance. And yes, the security guard who looked like he was going to cry over the loss of control during Punk's crowd surfing is always like that.
The main event probably had to be worked the way it was, though The Rock probably should've gotten a little more ring time. Nice to see that Michael Cole acknowledged Betty Skaaland at ringside when Cena (who was venomously hated, with only one or two small, high-pitched "Let's go Cena!" chants all night) hugged her.
The Rock's post-show speech was great, with most fans staying for the whole thing. I expect it to be on the DVD & Blu Ray releases of the show, but for now, you can see a fan-shot version via YouTube.
Overall, a great show and a great night. I'd have to go back to watch Summerslam '98 to compare it to, but it may be the best WWE show I've seen live and it felt like it made up for not being in Chicago for Money in the Bank.
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