Previously at “Hell in a Cell“...Alberto del Rio shocked the world by returning to the WWE and taking the belt off John Cena with an anti-climactic kick to the head. Meanwhile- Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens, the New Day and Charlotte successfully defended their respected Championships and Roman Reigns finally conquered Bray Wyatt. Undeterred, the Wyatt Family set their sights on the defeated Undertaker, closing the night with an abduction. On a happier note, “Hell in a Cell” was entertaining enough to overcome the ‘crappy PPV’ streak that had terrorized the WWE for months!- Let’s just be generous and temporarily pretend that NXT does not exist.
The Authority kicks off the show, talking about the PPV before introducing Seth Rollins and then everyone promptly blows each-other. They discuss a tournament to determine who the next #1 contender will be, but Roman Reigns comes out and completely telegraphs who will win. He says he will be the #1 contender and he probably will be. Decent opening segment. This leads to ‘Roman Reigns Vs Kofi Kingston‘, which was a strong opening match. ‘Kevin Owens Vs Cesaro‘ was even better! Team PCB has another back-stage segment, where it appears they formally reunite- which means Paige will turn on her friends by the end of the night- to face Team Bella. Solid match and yes, Paige did turn on her friends. Alberto del Rio and Zeb are interviewed and apparently are heels, with the stupid motive of trying to create Mex-America or some shit like that. Nevertheless, Rio and Neville put on a really good match together, although del Rio’s finisher is…odd. Seems difficult to lock and a little generic, but maybe that’s Rio gimmick now as he took out Cena with a mere super kick. Bray Wyatt cuts a chilling and intense promo about the fate of the Undertaker, leading to Kane arriving, which in itself leads to an ambush by the rest of the Family. I liked this segment and that shot of Kane being dragged into the fog was creepy. Ziggler defeats Big E in a decent, albeit unspectacular match- although I loved Breeze’s VIP section outside of the ring. Titus O’Neil leads the Komen ‘cure for cancer’ campaign. The main event is ‘Reigns Vs Owens Vs del Rio Vs Ziggler‘ and the winner is the new #1 contender. This was awesome thanks to…everything and everyone. Each performer looked strong and had their moment to shine. Seth Rollins was fun on commentary, primarily because he was both enthusiastic and nervous at the same time. The pacing was fast, the action was intense and the crowd was electric. Predictable winner or not, this was a blast. I also loved the stare-off between Reigns and Rollins at the end. In fact, this RAW was was really good. I’m excited to see what happens next!
Roman Reigns comes out and cuts a passable promo about how he’s going to take down Rollins, who arrives and counters with a much better promo. The Authority shows up and really play their heel card, announcing a Survivor Series-esque match for the Main Event. The first (hulu) match is ‘Kevin Owens vs Dolph Ziggler‘, while Tyler Breeze and Summer harass Ziggler from outside. Pretty good battle with a swift pace, although Zigglers’ overselling still gets on my nerves. Rollins successfully recruits Kevin Owens before Wyatt’s music hits. The Bray Wyatt segment was bizarre, beginning with a chilling speech and then it goes batshit insane when Bray starts conjuring thunder, lightning and fire- claiming he has taken the powers from Undertaker and Kane. It ends with a tribute package surrounding the Brothers of Destruction, although it ends with the imagery being distorted as it cuts to Bray laughing maniacally. Corny? Sure. But I was intrigued and want to see what happens next. ‘Barrett and Sheamus Vs the Lucha Dragons‘ have a fun, solid bout and I’m surprised that the Dragons went over. The four-way Diva’s battle- Paige Vs Brie Vs Becky Vs Sasha- was incredibly entertaining. Fast paced, some big spots and all of the competitors looked strong, even if I feel that Brie loses too much to belong here. Paige subsequently cuts a promo that was too cartoonish for my tastes. We get it! You’re a heel! Charlotte has a decent back-stage interview and now we have the main event. Team Rollins takes on Team Reigns, which is comprised of Reigns, The Uso’s- hey, they’re back. Why are they are the first introduced? Make a bigger deal out of this-, Ryback and Ambrose. The first people eliminated for both teams are the returning performers, the Uso’s and Woods, which annoyed me. The match was fun, but the booking- from the order of eliminations to the ending- left me unsatisfied. I thought this RAW was pretty entertaining, albeit sometimes very strange.
Alberto del Rio and Zeb Coulter start off the show and the whole Mex-America angle doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Yeah, Zeb is a bit prick-ish, but his message isn’t very heel-ish. Nevertheless, good match between del Rio and Neville. Jack Swagger arrives to save Neville, so at least he has something to do. ‘The Uso’s Vs Ascension‘ was decent, but I really enjoyed the Survivor Series-styled match where the Wyatt Family took on Lucha Dragons/Prime Time Players. Even though the winner is obvious, the losers had time to shine and the energy was very high. I was into it! Ambrose has an amusing back-stage interview and confrontation with Kevin Owens. ‘Ryback Vs Barrett‘ was mediocre. Why did Team BAD attack Natalya outside of the fact that they’re heels? ‘Natalya Vs Tamina‘ was BAD. ‘Kevin Owens Vs Ambrose‘ was a pretty good main event and I personally liked the way it ended. This smackdown was OK.
Triple H kicks off the show and seems to be massively popular with the crowd. He reveals that Seth Rollins was injured and is being stripped of the title- he apparently got hurt in a house show against Kane. Triple H calls out Roman Reigns, gives a big speech and tries to recruit him. Roman refuses and this leads to the first match, where he must take on the Big Show. Good bout. ‘Kevin Owens Vs Titus O’Neil‘ was short, but fun enough. Paige cuts a strong and surprisingly edgy promo in the back. ‘Paige Vs Becky Lynch‘ was solid, although I strongly disagreed with the ending. ‘Miz Vs Ziggler‘ was OK and ‘Cesaro Vs Sheamus‘ was brutal, at times making me worry for their safety. Epic battle though! I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Ambrose Vs Tyler Breeze‘, although the kid who kept screaming at Breeze sort of stole the show. Bray Wyatt cuts a chilling promo, but is interrupted by the Brothers of Destruction. Wyatt summons his family and a brawl ensues. Loved the spectacle of this segment and I marked out when Taker and Kane returned together. I thought this was a very good, potentially even great show.
They show the tournament brackets and I can’t help but notice how many faces are taking on faces and heels are taking on heels. Odd. The Wyatt Family kicks off the show, each cutting solid promos before challenging Kane and Taker for Survivor Series. Fandango- been awhile since I’ve seen him- takes on…Braun Strowman, okay this is not going to end well for the dancing guy. Typical squash. ‘King Barrett Vs Neville‘ was great, telling a strong story while being heavy on drama and delivering fast paced action. Too bad I’ve seen them battle for about 1,000 times. This is probably their best match though. ‘Ryback Vs Kalisto‘ bored me and I’m not entirely sure what WWE is trying to do here. Ryback looks weaker and I don’t see a Kalisto singles run anytime soon, so does anyone benefit? Del Rio and Zeb cut decent promos, doing their best to explain their character motivations. I still think this is a dumb angle. His match with Stardust was passable. The Main Event was ‘Uso’s Vs Rowan and Harper‘, which was good, even though the ending played it too safe. OK episode of Smackdown, with only the match between Neville and Barrett standing out.
Undertaker and Kane take about a year to come to the ring and then they cut pretty good promos, although I felt Kane was trying too hard to imitate Taker’s inflections. Bray arrives and reveals that he brainwashed Undertaker’s druids and they attack the Brothers of destruction. Good segment. ‘Kevin Owens Vs Neville‘ was a fast paced and exciting bout. These guys have great chemistry. The next match is ‘Ambrose Vs Ziggler‘ was a fun battle and Ambrose promotes the PPV. Putting Reigns against Cesaro baffles me, as it should be obvious that fans will cheer Cesaro and they might lash out of him at Survivor Series. At least Ziggler and Ambrose will merely divide the crowd…Nevertheless, I was wrong. The crowd was evenly split and it was a great match. ‘Alberto del Rio Vs Kalisto‘ was a bit of a disaster, with only the botches standing out. Del Rio accidentally pulling off Kalisto’s mask and putting it back in place himself was awkward. Paige and Charlotte have their contract signing and yikes, Charlotte’s acting is bad. Also, she says ‘her parents cared about the WWE almost as much as they cared them’. Paige’s Mom never worked for the WWE, as far as I know. At least Charlotte kind of won me back with her intensity and passion. Paige insults her dead brother, causing a fight to ensue. I won’t get into whether or not it was tasteless, but the following beatdown was pretty satisfying. Gotta give WWE credit for making the Diva’s Title signing the ‘main event‘ of the night, even if the execution was questionable. I liked this RAW, it had some good promos and really good matches.
Survivor Series PREDICTIONS
- Roman Reigns Vs Alberto del Rio: Reigns
- Kevin Owens Vs Dean Ambrose: Owens
- Charlotte Vs Paige: Charlotte
- Dolph Ziggler Vs Tyler Breeze: I’m guessing Breeze, albeit not with a significant amount of confidence.
- The Brothers of Destruction Vs the Wyatt Family: Another tough call, but I’ll go with the Wyatt’s.
- World Heavyweight Championship Finals: Reigns will probably be the victor.
SURVIVOR SERIES (2015)
(Kickoff Match) Stardust, The Ascension, Miz and Bo Dallas Vs Neville, Titus O’Neil, the Dudleyz and Goldust: This Survivor Series elimination match was dull and pointless for multiple reasons. There isn’t a single star who feels relevant at this time, there aren’t any stakes to heighten the tension, the action seemed phoned in and the pacing was slow. I will concede that Goldust’s return was handled decently, as the commentators seemed taken aback and he wasn’t destroyed like the Uso’s were in their return a few weeks ago. The Ascension was treated as a joke, the Miz was underused and I have no idea why Bo Dallas would even be here. None of the heroes had the opportunity to stand out and Stardust was unconvincing as the final villain because he’s too much of a jobber. The good guys easily scored the win, but I don’t feel like anyone benefited from this match- a theme that would spread like a cancer throughout the remainder of this PPV.
(WHC Tournament Semi-finals) Roman Reigns Vs Alberto del Rio: At one point, the crowd started chanting “This is Awesome” and I sighed in resignation as the chant feels watered down by now. This bout was…good, but not awesome. del Rio and Reigns have decent chemistry and their vastly different styles made for a nice contrast. Alberto del Rio might be saddled with a stupid gimmick and I still don’t find him to be very interesting, but he is a good wrestler and made Reigns look strong without making himself look weak. This is one of the few matches where the booking worked, as Reigns scored a credible victory, while del Rio’s stock didn’t drop because Reigns is probably going to be our next World Heavyweight Champion. The action was fast and often brutal, but what keeps it from achieving greatness is a lack of memorability. Maybe it could’ve used more spots? Nevertheless, a strong opening for this card and dread hasn’t quite gripped my soul quite yet.
(WHC Tournament Semi-finals) Dean Ambrose Vs Kevin Owens: I thought this was a little bit better than the ‘Roman Reigns vs Alberto del Rio‘ match, if only because these two men have more exciting styles and compelling personas. Ambrose’s biggest weakness as a performer is that he tends to wrestle the same match over and over again. His moveset is designed around him being unpredictable, but he uses the same maneuvers so often that it has become too predictable. Yet his bout with Owens felt different and was so fast paced that I could buy it when he landed those ‘allegedly unpredictable’ attacks. I felt like they were really trying to tear each-other apart and both showcased some awesome moments. At times, I thought they were rushing things though and the match was a little…short. Very good work, but I have to question whether putting Ambrose over was a good idea. He’s popular, but he loses too much to be in the World Title scene RIGHT NOW. A victory over Owens raised him a bit, but not as much as it hurt Owens’ credibility.
(Survivor Series Elimination Match) Ryback, the Lucha Dragons and the Uso’s Vs the New Day, Sheamus and King Barrett: The New Day start things off with a hilarious promo and Xavier Woods shows off his silly perm. I laughed and the reactions of Sheamus and Barrett to their goofiness was priceless…and then it went downhill from there…There wasn’t a single good thing about this match and no one really came out on top. Ryback pinned Sheamus, which would usually mean something as Sheamus is usually presented as a strong competitor, has the Money in the Bank contract and will ultimately become the World Heavyweight Champion by the end of the night…and yet it means nothing, because Sheamus was in a 3-on-1 handicap match. Why did they put him through a babyface scenario, especially as Stardust was in an identical situation around an hour prior? I don’t know, but the storytelling here was awful. King (of the ring) Barrett was taken out first and each Tag Team lost a member or two. The New Day was mostly eliminated, so they earned nothing outside of the audience’s affection for making them laugh. You’d think that they’d use this filler-match to set up the next Tag Team Championship storyline, but the Uso’s and Lucha Dragons each lost a member, so neither team was allowed to look notably credible. Of course, Sheamus- future WHC- lost to the guy who was defeated by Kalisto and was squashed in the last PPV…Does the belt mean anything anymore? The match seemed to go on forever and the quality of the action would’ve been more acceptable if this was a Smackdown.
DIVA’S CHAMPIONSHIP– Charlotte Vs Paige: This has been a polarizing match, with some praising it as among the best of the night and others thinking that it was sloppy and slow. I personally thought this match was OK on a technical level, as both women had the opportunity to show off some good moves- and unfortunately, some sloppy ones- and I liked how aggressive they were. On the other hand, I was starting to drift off and found myself fighting temptation to do something else while it played. Part of the problem is that this isn’t a well paced match. I wouldn’t call it slow, but it never really picks up any momentum, remaining at the same steady pace that it opened with. The length was also an issue, as the content didn’t justify the runningtime- this is one of the longer matches on the card. Above everything, the crowd (who has been too generous at this point) was dead the entire time. It started to get sad when Paige attempted to get a rise of them, which earned her a modest response for about 2 seconds. Why did this fail, when it wasn’t bad on its own? Paige has been delivering some awesome promos, but hasn’t been booked to look like a strong contender. The reason for her betrayal was that she was losing and afterwards, she continued to lose to Becky and Natalya (who herself has been jobbing). The ‘Reid Flair’ controversy seemed like a desperate attempt to add drama, but I think fans saw through this and the lackluster booking ruined the quality of the match. I didn’t really care for the outcome and the crowd agreed with me.
Dolph Ziggler Vs Tyler Breeze: This was OK, although I couldn’t help but spend the entire match criticizing Ziggler’s inconsistent attempts at psychology. Sometimes he sells his leg injury like he can barely walk, but then he’ll be running around and using kicks. Tragically, it seemed like fans have become a little apathetic towards Ziggler, in contrast to him previously being the most popular darkhorse in the company. There are some unconvincing moments, but there were some fancy spots and the pacing wasn’t bad. Just when things were starting to heat up and I was becoming invested in what was going on, it…ended. This feud was interesting for the first few nights, but then WWE seemed to forget about it and I can’t remember any of their interactions outside of Breeze’s debut. Ziggler lost all his potential rise in credibility from defeating Rusev, because Breeze went over and I don’t see WWE treating Prince Pretty better than Fandango in the long run. Ziggler lost again and I suspect Breeze will have his own losing streak soon enough, so I don’t think anyone benefited from this match.
The Brothers of Destruction (Undertaker, Kane) Vs The Wyatt Family (Bray and Luke Harper): The Undertaker takes about a year to do his entrance, presumably because this is his 25th anniversary and is part of the celebration. They could’ve made a huge spectacle out of it, or at least did something creative in order to emphasize the importance of it all, but instead we hear about 1,000 gongs before he finally comes out and SLOOOOOWLY makes his way up the ring- otherwise, it’s his usual entrance. I was bored even before the match began! And this match was pretty f@cking boring. All interest and suspense deflated as soon as Bray chose Harper to be his Tag Team partner. Because when going against two legends, it’s better to select the guy who loses to the guys who lose to the relevant superstars, instead of choosing your most dangerous asset- Braun Strowman. Granted, Harper is a more entertaining worker, but this makes no sense from a storyline perspective and now the outcome is predictable. If you listen carefully, you can hear the dying wail of suspense before the match even starts. The action was awkward and plodding, often feeling like these men were struggling getting used to each-others styles. The only memorable moment was when Braun Strowman got Chokeslammed through a table. Even worse, this was a glorified squash, as the Brothers of Destruction were dominant throughout most of the match and got the win. When it seemed like the Wyatt’s might win, Bray started doing his spiderwalk and this annoyed me because it’s obvious that Taker and Kane are going to sit straight up to surprise him. You’d think Bray would be smarter than this, because THE EXACT SAME THING HAPPENED at Wrestlemania. Why did Rowan leave the building? Is this leading to a split, AGAIN!? This was stupid and boring. The Brothers of Destruction don’t gain anything because they are at the tail end of their careers and the Wyatt’s are back to jobbing. In fact, this killed Bray for me. His gimmick only works when he wins matches, but every time he starts getting any upward momentum, he gets cut off at the legs. He’s no longer threatening!
WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP– Roman Reigns Vs Dean Ambrose: This was a waste…not bad, but a waste. As I said earlier, Ambrose loses too much be a credible contender for this title. In fact, Reigns has always been presented as being the more dangerous of the two men, even when they were part of the Shield. If Ambrose won, I think it would have a negative impact on the title AT THIS TIME. So the victor is obvious, but what about the drama? These guys are like brothers, so we’re supposed to feel the emotion of the bout. Strangely, they did nothing with this until after it was over. The match begins with them charging each-other with so much intensity that you’d think they hated each-other (‘Charlotte Vs Paige‘ should’ve had this opening). There are spots where they act like they’re annoyed with the others presence (both acting more like heels than faces), so I never really could make an emotional attachment to this story. On a technical level, the action is actually fast paced and violent. I was mostly entertained until Ambrose started no-selling Romans’ punches during a back-and-forth exchange. I can buy a smaller guy beating a bigger guy, but when the smaller guy seems unfazed by the bigger guys attacks, it just draws attention to the fakeness of Professional Wrestling. .I also thought the commentators often sounded indifferent, barely reacting when Ambrose or Reigns would kick out of each-others finishers. Once again, just when things started heating up and becoming awesome, the match abruptly ends BEFORE EVEN REACHING 10 MINUTES- raping Ambrose’s newfound credibility in the process! Triple H comes out and tries to shake Roman’s hand, which earns him a spear and I had to grown. This is supposed to be cathartic, but Triple H had been behaving himself rather well for the past month. Sure, he forced Roman to compete in the tournament, but at least he never attempted to sabotage his performance, harm him or stack the odds against him. Triple H’s treatment of Daniel Bryan, Ambrose and Reigns from 2014 was a lot more vicious, so this made Roman Reigns look like a petty babyface in my opinion. Then Sheamus came out and…shit…
WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP– Roman Reigns Vs Sheamus: Sheamus lands a brogue kick, which fails and I was hoping that Roman Reigns would somehow steal the win. Sheamus has even less momentum as a potential World Heavyweight Champion than Ambrose does, so I do not want to see him wear the big belt at this time. This would also make Roman Reigns into a successful underdog, as he’d be overcoming incredible odds. Vince seems to want to present Reigns as an underdog, which isn’t working, but this could be the way to finally accomplish that goal. Yet Sheamus emerges victorious with a second brogue and I brogue kicked my TV screen…But I’m not athletic so I missed and hurt myself. You got lucky this time, TV, this time…By the way, Roman Reigns lost again, so he did not benefit from this PPV either. The crowd was not sympathizing with him as he mourned his loss.
Overall: “Survivor Series (2015)” made me seriously consider cancelling my network subscription, an accomplishment that even “Royal Rumble (2015)” failed to do. This was the WORST PPV I have seen since getting back into wrestling, but not for conventional reasons. The individual matches weren’t bad, but the pacing of the entire event sucked. Every time things started picking up, the match would suddenly end and this left me feeling unsatisfied AND THIS HAPPENED MULTIPLE TIMES! The villains were mostly treated as jokes, so it was hard to feel any suspense and even the new World Heavyweight Champion got his ass kicked earlier in the night. WWE has been plagued by a lot of injuries and John Cena is currently absent from the product, so they have the opportunity to build up new stars. Yet instead they end up relying on the past, whether we’re talking about the Brothers of Destruction or Sheamus. Or Goldust. Or the Dudleyz. Entrances should not be THAT long. Filler matches, even the ones designed around the primary gimmick of this PPV, should not be THAT long. I ended “Survivor Series (2015)” both annoyed and exhausted. I tried thinking of the positives, but while there were some good matches, they weren’t good enough to make the event worthwhile. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that WWE made most its competitors look a little bit worse. The winners would go on to lose like chumps or had previously lost like chumps! Every booking decision was just…wrong, as if the goal was to get on the nerves of its target audience. “Survivor Series (2015)” was horribly booked, anti-climactic and often felt a little phoned in, but even worse than that: It’s boring. Really, really boring.
I apologize for this review turning into a rant, but that’s just how angry I am. Consider this- Survivor Series has its namesake for the elimination matches, right? Then why wasn’t there any effort put into developing storylines surrounding these matches? I thought this was where they were going with the Undertaker-Wyatt feud, but they ultimately participated in a conventional Tag Team bout. Throwing together the PPV’s namesake matches without any build up just cheapens the idea. “Survivor Series” is no longer relevant because the Survivor Series Elimination Matches are no longer relevant. Plus, it’s really lazy when both of them pretty much end in the exact same way- the heel being forced to contend with multiple babyfaces and getting crushed. Sheamus being the loser-heel who somehow carries the most prestigious Title could be tolerable, except we had just endured MONTHS of this shit with Seth Rollins. This PPV tells me that Roman Reigns isn’t smart enough to be a credible champion. It tells me that Ambrose isn’t strong enough to even be a credible contender. It tells me that Alberto del Rio AND Kevin Owens are not worthy of the belt, as they lost to the guys whom this PPV told me weren’t good enough. It told me that none of the villains are particularly dangerous and that Bray Wyatt is nothing but talk. It tells me that the company has no future, because they’re relying too much on the past. It tells me that Sheamus is another paper champion, as we just saw him get pinned by Ryback, who was defeated by Kalisto, who would subsequently be defeated by del Rio…who would be defeated by Roman Reigns…But above everything, “Survivor Series (2015)” tells me that the WWE doesn’t understand the WWE universe. “Hell in a Cell” at the absolute least, made me interested in seeing what would happen next. I currently have no desire to see the upcoming RAW. This…ugh, I’m done. Thank you for reading.