– Support your local pay-per-view column. Share this! It’s the price you pay for low-cost wrestling jokes.
– GIFs by the gracious @LegKickTKO.
– If you’re so inclined, go back and read the Best and Worst of Survivor Series 2012 by Soupy from The Wonder Years and the sadly now imageless Best and Worst of Survivor Series 2011. I’d link you to 2010 as well, but it looks like AOL is finally gutting its archives.
And now, the Best and Worst of WWE Survivor Series 2013. WHO WILL SURVIVE?
Best: Roman Reigns Is God
When the Shield’s team went down 5-guys-to-2, the part of my brain that laughs when I’m feeling nervous or sad goes, “heh, wouldn’t it be awesome if Roman Reigns just speared all five guys and won the match?” Yes, my brain says “heh.” My brain sucks. But then they TOTALLY DID IT.
Roman Reigns has been one of my favorite wrestlers for a while now, but even I can’t believe how amazing he was at Survivor Series. This was a total, serious star-making moment for him. Reigns took out four of the best wrestlers on the show with spears, laying out an Uso with a video game-friendly corner finisher version, absolutely TRUCKING Cody Rhodes with a spear off the ropes, plowing through Goldust in the middle of the ring and making me laugh right the hell out loud by countering a 619 attempt.
That last one is the important one, and worth watching the show for. I’m a pretty pro-Rey Mysterio guy, but WWE’s always pushed him a little too hard as the “biggest little man,” so when he’s in the ring with a great wrestler or a monster there’s always a chance that realism and good sense are gonna fly out the door in favor of shitty, reaching ranas that send guys floundering into the middle rope for weak-ass 619s and 150-pound splashes. This was Rey’s big return match, too, so when it was just Rey and Roman and Rey was perched on the top, I feared the worst. Then he goes to bounce off the ropes and Roman just politely picks himself up and runs himself the f*ck through Rey I stood up and cheered. Great, great stuff, and a deserving victory for a guy who for all intents and purposes should be a tentpole in the WWE’s future.
What’re the chances we could get the Rock to come back and put over a guy he’s related to? Would he do it without having to win first with a two-year bumper of hilarious insults and a big injury excuse that makes him look tough?
Worst: Why Am I Being Asked To Have Sympathy For The Bad Guys?
The match was great, don’t get me wrong, but the heel/face dynamic was really bothering me. WWE doesn’t seem to understand how we’re supposed to be cheering for the “good guys,” and how bad guys can use the match stipulations to gain compelling advantages over them without sneak attacks or lengthly explanations of how scared and jealous they are. A Survivor Series match is basically built to give the bad guys the advantage and have the good guys fight back and triumph, or get close and fail. Or hell, worst case scenario the sides each lose a man at a time to build personal rivalries or highlight a certain beef. It’s just like a War Games match. The heel team ALWAYS wins the coin toss to get the man-advantage. If they don’t, you’re lessening the drama, and drama is literally the only point of having a fake sport you can control. Right? Why are the good guys taking a big advantage and then f*cking it up?
The best explanation I can give is that WWE heels and faces still exist in a “grey area” where the good guys aren’t really good and the bad guys aren’t really bad. That might work for me if they hadn’t spent the last decade clearly defining what it means to be good and bad. Bad guys are cowards who back down from fights and try to weasel their way out of competition and hate each and every one of you. Good guys are cool, stupid loudmouths who are basically the jocks from a high school football movie with catchphrases and t-shirts. The same person who was a hateful coward instantly becomes a stupid cool jerk as soon as they change alliances, and vice versa, often immediately forgetting every identifiable character trait they had and everything they’d done before the switch. So no, there isn’t a grey area, you’re setting up the match purposefully so I’ll feel sympathy for the heels.
There’s no other explanation. The Shield goes down 5-2 and fights back to win with no outside help or cheating, just straight-up bad-assery. Sure, I love that, but since when have you been writing shit to make ME happy? If the idea is to build up Reigns and Rollins as amazing tough guys and further split them from Ambrose (a cocky jerk who got pinned for being too complainy about 5 seconds into the match), then cool, I guess, I don’t want you to split up the Shield but it makes sense. If that’s NOT what you’re doing, then I dunno. I don’t understand you or anything you do. Look, I’m admitting it.
The other complaint I have with the match is the same complaint I have with every modern Survivor Series match. You’ve got 4 teammates standing on the apron. NONE of them are gonna try to help you and break up the pin? Good guys and bad guys both. They just stand there with their thumbs up their asses watching their numbers dwindle. The idea is to win the match, right? You’d dive in there to save him in a tag team match. Why not jog over and boot a guy in the head when he’s pinning your friend?
Best: Zeb Colter Is Better At Hometown Sports Referencing Than Big E Langston
The two opening matches had “so how about your LOCAL SPORTS TEAM” things. The first one came from Zeb Colter, who included a bit about how Boston glorifies a foreigner named David Ortiz amidst a rant about how we’d ignore Paul Revere because TWERKING. It was so absurd I managed to excuse both Zeb and Cody Rhodes “twerking” to sell it. Jokes about twerking are the Austin Powers quotes of 2013. I know you think they’re funny, but they really aren’t.
Anyway, what I’m getting at is that the second Local Sports Team reference was after the Big E Langston match, when Big E took the microphone and said “Boston” in a weird voice twice before yelling BOSTON RED SOX WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONSSSSS and making everybody cheer. It was the worst. I love Big E and think he’s great on the microphone … I think he’s one of the most legitimately funny and personable guys on the roster, but holy shit do I never want to hear him read a WWE script again. You can always tell when the writers write something up and make the wrestlers read it. It’s what killed The Miz and Dolph Ziggler’s face pushes so quickly. They were just like “SURE WHATEVER” when the writers handed them a thing that said SOUND LIKE A FIVE-YEAR OLD WHO SUDDENLY BECAME A MUSCULAR ADULT.
Best?: A Totally Fine Raw Match
The Big E/Curtis Axel Intercontinental Championship rematch itself was … fine? I don’t know how else to explain it.
There’s a running joke that the pay-per-views have just become 60-dollar episodes of Raw, and while that’s not always true, the IC title match felt like the kind of thing they’d do on Smackdown to really convince the crowd that what happened on Raw happened. Axel had a “rematch clause” (the stupidest thing in wrestling we never really talk about) and Langston put him away with authority. So now Big E gets to move on and feud with whoever, and Axel (fingers crossed) gets put back with Otunga and Mason Ryan.
Shut up, I am absolutely crossing my fingers for that.
Worst: A Watched Pot Never Boils, I Guess
First of all, ‘sup Renee.
Second of all, if you’re ever going to introduce the “needing five” aspect of Big E Langston’s character — and Jesus, you gave him an entrance theme about it, so why wouldn’t you? — I feel like the first big win after winning a major singles title was probably the time to do it. Either have him break it out on Axel organically, or have Axel linger while Renee’s talking to Big E in the ring and have him be all, YOU KNOW WHAT, ACTUALLY RENEE I NEED FIVE. It’s not hard. DO IT, JERKS.
And while I’m demanding you do things, how about using Roman and Big E in that “strong guys square off in the Rumble” Rumble spot?
Best: A Little Explanation Goes A Long Way
Occasionally WWE does a thing I hatefully ask them to do in these columns, and when they do, I need to recognize it.
It’s been bugging me that the cast of Total Divas spends the entirety of Total Divas trying to attack and undermine one another, and then when they show up on Raw they’re all arm-in-arm and kissy-cheeky and laughing about how they’re great and beautiful TV stars. And then the people who aren’t on Total Divas have to be mad that they aren’t, and jealous that they aren’t pretty and popular, and how WWE never attempts to explain why either side of the 7-on-7 Divas hootenanny is friends.
On last night’s show, they actually did a segment where AJ’s backstage giving a faux-inspirational speech about how she’s great and everyone is terrible but they have to be a team, and Kaitlyn pipes in to explain that everybody on the team hates her and the reasons why. After a brief back-and-forth, the team decides that it sucks, but they’re going along with it anyway. Beautiful. Perfect. It still doesn’t make total sense — for example, I don’t remember AJ and Rosa Mendes ever even meeting, much less having a problem with one another aside from maybe both liking Primo? — but it’s the kind of “here’s the deal” announcement I can at least BUY, and that goes a long, long way. Thank you for this.
Worst, Though: Rosa Mendes Needs To Stop Looking Like That Immediately
I’d really hoped the blonde was a one-time-only thing for Raw Country, like maybe she was going for a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader costume or something. But uh, nope. And why is she wearing a one-piece bathing suit as ring gear? She’s been in WWE for 7 years now. I’ve seen enough sad ex-WWE wrestlers from the Ruthless Aggression era to know that they give you bright new sparkly gear every month and you can recycle that shit for decades. Charlie Haas has a vestibule full of expertly-made bicycle shorts, why is Rosa Mendes active and still buying her gear at Target?
And seriously Rosa, I know it must’ve been hard to lose your job to a bull midget, but get it together.
Worst: Move, Pin, Move, Pin, Move, Pin, Move, Pin
The actual match had its bright spots — Jojo become the ironic fan favorite and almost sneaking out a win despite not being able to shake somebody’s hand without breaking both of her legs, for example — but was just generally the thousand-lady shitfest you imagined it’d be.
The worst part is that it didn’t have to be that bad, it’s just that everybody started the match with their damage in red so ANYTHING THAT HAPPENED EVER caused them to collapse into unconsciousness and get pinned. Ladies just tagged in, got hit with one move and were immediately pinned. And it wasn’t like Stone Cold Steve Austin was giving them surprise stunners, they were going down to ANYTHING. Kaitlyn got pinned by a dropkick. Brie Bella, despite being the focal point of Total Divas and a workhorse recently, got KO’d be a spinebuster. From AKSANA. WHO KNEW AKSANA COULD EVEN DO A SPINEBUSTER? It was just move, pin, move, pin, move, pin until they got to the end.
Two great things about the match, though:
1. Nikki Bella pulling Reverse Gail Kim and having everyone in the world (including the announcers and Lilian) just assume she’d be eliminated when she wasn’t, and
2. Natalya sitting on the security railing to do the “celebrate in the fans” thing, but having nobody give a shit that she was there. She has to sit there going “woooo” with a smile on her face, leaning over to touch random people were willing to give a sympathy-five.
Also, is she “Nattie Hart” now? Are we just gonna pretend she’s Bret Hart’s daughter instead of the Anvil’s? Shouldn’t she at least be Nattie Kidd?
Worst: That Celebrity Hall Of Fame Panel Made Me Feel Like I Was Watching An Episode Of ‘Derek’
The first rule of WWE Club is do not ever let Bret Hart talk. He wasn’t great at stringing together coherent sentences BEFORE he had legitimate brain problems, and now it’s just cruel to lead him out there and ask him what he thinks about a Miz/Kofi Kingston match. He doesn’t know. And if he knows, he’s not gonna be able to say it properly. Pairing him with a guy who is so busy breathing he can’t get the words out (Booker T), a guy more interested in doing a WWE announcer voice than being himself and saying anything interesting (Mick Foley) and a sub-Cole stooge (Josh Mathews) is a recipe for disaster.
Again, you have access to every good talker in the history of pro wrestling for these things. And sure, some of them don’t work out … I know we aren’t gonna let Drunk Ric Flair handle analyst duties anymore. But what these segments need to be is more like the vibe of the Legends of Wrestling roundtable discussions. Natural, honest, insightful … just kayfabed. I am really interested in hearing what Mick Foley has to say about Survivor Series. That’s the truth. Foley’s one of the coolest, funniest, best talkers ever. But he’s trying to be a color commentator when he’s doing this, and in case you’ve forgotten, color commentator Foley was AWFUL.
Seriously though, let Bret Hart sit in a comfortable chair somewhere in Canada and just occasionally send him some money and leave him alone.
Best: MARK HENRY
Ryback wandered out to cut a surprisingly enjoyable promo about how he’s super strong and handsome (just like GOLDBERG used to) and issue an open challenge (like GOLDBERG might’ve) only for it to be answered by MARK GODDAMN HENRY, back and BALDER and looking DEADLY SVELTE.
The match wasn’t spectacular but it was a fun big-man affair, and certainly better than their WrestleMania match by proxy of Ryback’s personality alone. The joy of having Henry back was the most important thing, and I hope they keep letting him just jump at dudes and kill them, because that was amazing. The fact that he didn’t smoothly hit a crossbody helps, too. I’m guessing he was supposed to catch Ryback running and land on him, but instead he just kinda jumped and butted into him with his MASSIVE SIDEBODY and it was great. If Mark Henry enters some kind of late-era Jesus period where he’s throwing spinning wheel kicks and doing Dick Togo sentons I’m going to lose my mind.
I’m going to lose my mind anyway, because Mark Henry. Welcome back, old friend. Sorry your head doesn’t have as much cushion as it did before.
Worst: This Is The Exact Same Match They Had Last Month
Holy SHIT what a placeholder match.
Last month, John Cena and Alberto Del Rio had a match at Hell In A Cell. This was that. I don’t know what to say. It was the exact match you thought it’d be. 20 minutes of Cena pretending he’s overcoming the odds and having the announcers treat him like he’d had arm surgery that afternoon and being SUPER SHOCKED when he can lift Alberto Del Rio’s ENTIRE BODY 20 MINUTES INTO THE MATCH WITH HIS BAD ARM. We’re pretending like since Cena’s arm surgery he hasn’t beaten Del Rio once, survived numerous arm-related attacks, had Damien Sandow attack his arm with a chair and some steps and everything else not nailed down in the world and easily beaten Sandow with his bad arm.
I think I’ve figured it out: Cena’s bad arm is not a bad arm at all. It’s a red herring. He’s just touching it a lot to make you only attack one part of his body.
I don’t want to do the goodness of the match a disservice by basically wanking at it from October, but I just can’t do it. Bad wrestling fans are gonna tell you the number of Cena’s moves is what’s important, but it isn’t … what makes even his good wrestling “bad” is how infrequently he leaves his formula. When you get Cena wrestling a real wrestling match, he’s one of the best in the business. The problem is that to Cena, “wrestling” is “doing the John Cena match,” and the John Cena match, no matter how good it is, is something we’ve seen A BILLION TIMES. LITERALLY A BILLION TIMES. IN ALL CAPS. LITERALLY IN ALL CAPS. Tomorrow night they should have Sandow try to cash in Money in the Bank on him.
John Cena is Jennifer Aniston’s naked body, and my wrestling fandom is Brad Pitt. No matter how perfect John Cena is, I’m just tired of looking at him.
Best: This Dumb Toy Segment
Santino and R-Truth are doing a toy commercial backstage, but they haven’t taken even a second to figure out how the toys work. Haven’t you seen the commercials? You lock their hands together and they roll around in the ring. These are those toys, right? They just jam them into each other.
And then they accidentally summon Los Matadores and El Torito, and the joke is that HUMOR. And then they say “dance” and of course Fandango shows up to say “did somebody say dance,” because this was written by a GROWN UP who has a COLLEGE EDUCATION and SEVERAL YEARS OF SOAP OPERA WRITING EXPERIENCE. It’s all terrible and then we move on to HOLY SHIT JOHN LAURINAITIS JUST SHOWED UP
As longtime readers of the column my know, the Executive Vice President Of Talent Relations And Permanent General Manager Of Both Raw And Smackdown is my hero, my spirit animal, my team captain, my good friend in real life and easily my favorite person both on the Earth and in the history of professional wrestling. If I’ve got to live in a month of wrestling where we see David Otunga for a minute and Big Johnny for 15 seconds, I can live with that.
Also, between Big Johnny, El Torito and Fandango in the background, I’m pretty sure R-Truth and Santino were playing with toys in my mind.
Best: And Now, Your Survivor Series Main-Event
My “I can’t believe Leakee got this good” NXT talking point is getting old, so I’m updating it to “I can’t believe Erick Rowan is having the best match of the night.”
The best match on the show and the thing we should all agree to consider the main event was Rowan and Luke Harper against Daniel Bryan and CM Punk, aka The Beard And The Best, aka GOATS (“Greatest Of All Teams” … not LL Cool J please don’t sue), aka YES’D IN THE WORLD. I don’t really like any of their names, because
1. Daniel Bryan is both The Beard AND The Best, and
2. we really need to cut it out with the goat stuff
… but like everything Daniel Bryan does facetiously on television WHO CARES, because eventually we get a killer wrestling match, and that’s all I need to justify a lifetime of stupidity. This was GREAT. A simple, passionately-fought tag team match that let Punk and Bryan look like the biggest, coolest stars in the company without devaluing the Wyatts, who frankly have lost matches to The Usos recently and probably shouldn’t be this big of a threat. That’s good. The Wyatts SHOULD be a threat because they are threatening, and now that the sheep have fallen, Bryan and Punk get to run directly afoul of the wolf.
I wish I could call Punk and Bryan WWE’s Superman and Batman, but I can’t. That’s Cena and Orton. Cena’s the unrealistically unstoppable guy who swoops in and wins and saves the day without trying. Orton’s the one with no special powers and deep mental problems who figures out how to win anyway. Punk and Bryan are Booster Gold and the Blue Beetle. Bryan’s technically the best at what he does but he’s small and kinda stupid looking, and Punk’s 90% telling people he’s awesome until they believe him. In this analogy, The Miz is Guy Gardner, because that is too perfect.
Anyway, this was the end of the show and I give it an A+. Great show! Too bad there are no more matches!
Worst: Yikes, That Actual Main-Event, Or
Best: The Crowd Gets It Right
Ugh, speaking of Batman
At a certain point during Big Show vs. Randy Orton, the crowd starts chanting “DAN-iel BRY-an.” This makes me happy for a lot of reasons. One, because the Show/Orton match is really bad and should’ve had Daniel Bryan in it somewhere. Bryan shouldn’t have been shuttled down to the mid-card and should have been the actual, reigning WWE Champion by now. Two, because they’re chanting “Daniel Bryan” and not “yes,” which means they want to see Daniel Bryan, not see Daniel Bryan so they can chant the fun thing they chant. Three, because it’s the kind of organically-occurring support that freaks WWE the hell out, like the crowds at WrestleMania and Raw that made Daniel Bryan a thing in the first place. Four, because Daniel Bryan rules and you SHOULD be chanting for him.
The match was basically every tired thing you could think of crammed into one lost, wandering championship match. Orton fled for his life like a true WWE coward, but nobody bought it because Orton’s been KILLING IT in the ring for the last few months, he’s beaten Big Show plenty of times before and really has no reason to be afraid of him. They did some lifeless fighting on the outside to get the crowd back into it, but it didn’t work. They bumped the ref. Even the punt looked bad. Triple H interfered via musical interlude because he said no PHYSICAL interaction, wink wink nudge nudge get it, and Orton retained via main-event shenanigans for what, the fifth pay-per-view in a row? Enough already.
Worst: It’s Tired Of Me To Say, But This Would’ve Been Such A Great Time To Turn Cena
Quick thing: I know Cena’s not going to turn heel until his t-shirt and Make-a-Wish well starts running dry, and that’s not going to happen until he’s like 45 years old and all the Cena kids have grown up to be smarks. It’s what happened with Hogan. The only difference is that Hogan didn’t wink at us about it every few months.
But yeah, earlier in the night there was a weird scene where Cena was backstage with Triple H and Stephanie and Orton walks in all, “why’s HE here?” Cena leaves, and you’re left with this weird feeling that maybe Cena was talking to them about something shifty. Then at the end of the show Orton wins via help after having been told nobody’s gonna help him, and Cena’s music hits. Now, the thought in my head was that the Authority has no faith in Orton’s ability to get the job done alone, so they’re sending in the ULTIMATE GET IT DONE ALONE champion to maul him, take away his title and be the real, real Face Of The Company. Because seriously, belt or no belt, Cena’s the face of the company. How great would it have been if Cena had calmly walked to the ring, dispatched Orton, taken his belt, done a little salute to the Authority and bailed? The Internet would be GOING CRAZY right now. Everybody would.
But alas, it wasn’t meant to be. It was just a limp tease of a Cena/Orton match to end a show that began with the big authoritarian heel doing his fan-favorite catchphrase to make everyone laugh and clap and cheer for him. Remember when Daniel Bryan was raging against the evil authority? Daniel Bryan needs to STFU while grown folks is talking.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Night
Welcome to Survivor Series, where the story is scripted and the pins don’t matter.
Roman Reins takes off his flak vest. Wind and rose petals blow in. All 5 faces are eliminated due to beauty-related concussion.
If Roman spears Mysterio, I think the impact will cause Eddie to get custody of Dominic.
Big E. is actually his mansierre size.
This Divas match brought to you by: The Golden Gun from Goldeneye.
In order to cement both his bully and Goldberg status, Ryback is going to walk up there and kick Bret Hart in the head.
Charles what I’m trying to say is that I’m implying which is saying something which needs context i.e to read between the lines which is a literary reference which is a reference to a book which is something which you read and that thing which I’m implying is that you Charles Robinson, lil’ Naitch so called because you resemble the Nature Boy Ric Flair who tutored me in Evolution, tutored means taught which means to improve someone else by giving them skills and helping them to improve said skills and as he taught me he also helped you in WCW which is World Championship Wrestling which is a wrestling promotion which was bought i.e was amalgamated into WWF which is not World Widelife Fund for that is a panda company but is in fact World Wrestling Federation which is what this company WWE was called beforehand or is in fact what it was called before it was called WWE and so because we both know Ric Flair, the Nature Boy *Cue Bayley saying Woo* then you know that I the Viper, the Legend Killer, the Apex Predator Randy Orton must win and hit the RKO which stands for the initials of my name, that name being Randall Keith Orton and that is the name of the Viper, the Legend Killer, the Apex Predator Randy Orton. Because that is what’s best for business for me the Face of the WWE the Viper, the Legend Killer, the Apex Predator Randy Orton. *RKO’s Bayley as Charles Robinson looks on horrified*
Cena vs Del Rio next? Damn, I wish I could watch it, but I left the oven on, and I need to add softener during the rinse cycle, and I need to go get my part of my uncle’s will, and this will all take about 20 minutes.
What has to happen at the end of the Wyatt Family era to make Bray join his brother and WWE’s preeminent officer of the law to form the Law Offices of Rotunda, Rotunda, and Otunga?
Thanks, everybody. See you on Monday, and probably again on Sunday, and then 7 days Cena/Del Rio matches in a row starting in December.