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Survivor Series is in the book, and while the last few WWE PPVs have come up short when it came to delivering memorable moments, the same cannot be said for Survivor Series. You can say a lot about tonight's show, but you cannot reasonably say that it was boring, repetitive or predictable.
Team Cena vs Team Authority-****1/2
So much happened in this match that traditionally trying to analyze it wouldn't do it justice, so in hopes of doing the best job possible of critically assessing the match, here are some words on every participant.
Sting: Sting made his long awaited WWE debut, randomly coming out during the main event and preventing Triple H from winning the match and retaining power. Sting slowly walked to the ring while Triple H was so shocked he was unable to order Scott Armstrong to count to three. Sting and Triple H stared at each other forever while Rollins and Ziggler sat quietly in the corner, waiting to resume their contest. Sting's return to the wrestling world and whatever he is going to do in WWE is hard to assess. On one hand, Sting coming out as a surprise rival of Triple H and costing him his job is certainly a memorable moment, and the live crowd was delighted to see him. On the other hand, once again two young stars who were tearing the house down and well on their way to having the best WWE match of 2014, where kind of ushered in as an afterthought while two graybeards were pushed front and center. Sting's run in TNA really petered out towards the end, and how much he really has left is extremely questionable. Once the nostalgia wears off, will Sting and Triple H be able to keep everyone entertained? There are a lot of questions that needed to be answered about Sting, and only time will give us these answers.
Triple H: Big props to Triple H, Vince McMahon himself couldn't have done a better job playing the tyrannical boss willing to do anything to save his job. It was smart having the match go over 30 minutes before Triple H got physically involved. Ziggler had fought so hard to even the odds, and right before he was about to win it, Triple H came in and blew a gasket. Both him and Stephanie were excellent on the outside of the ring reacting to the highs and the lows of the match. The Authority angle certainly had its lows at times, but they went on a bang tonight.
Dolph Ziggler: Sting's return might have been spoiled in advance, but I doubt many people predicted that Ziggler would be the sole survivor for Team Cena, that Ziggler would eliminate the final three members of The Authority with the deck stacked against him. Ziggler coming out as the strongest guy on the show (save for Sting) was probably the biggest surprise of all. Dolph rallied back with the odds against him, and if John Cena did it, we would all be lamenting on how predictable this was. But Ziggler doing it is different. First of all, he is a better seller than Cena, and nobody sells a beating like Ziggler, his selling ability and his athleticism are really reminiscent of Shawn Michaels. The second biggest difference is that Cena has done it so many times that it is actually predictable that he would be buzz-sawing his way through his opponents. Ziggler, on the other hand, has been beaten down and oppressed by WWE so much in the past that fans almost expect him to be given the short end of the stick in an important match. Ziggler playing the Cena role was one of the most amazing things WWE has done in 2014, and it lent itself to a great finish to the PPV.
Seth Rollins: Despite losing the match and being knocked unconscious for about ten minutes from a ZigZag, Rollins came out of this match looking better than ever. Rollins was sometimes cast in the shadow of Triple H, Randy Orton and even Kane during his time in The Authority, but tonight he really came across as the captain of the team. He brilliantly picked his spots during the bulk of the match, consistently coming in and performing drive-by (as Michael Cole put it) attacks and helping his teammates. He did an excellent job working with Ziggler at the end of the match and him and Ziggler teamed up to give what so many people want from WWE, two elite workers hashing it out on a big stage with big stakes on the line.
John Cena: Cena had less of an impact on this match then pretty much anybody expected. He was eliminated by a sneak attack by Big Show, and amazingly he didn't return to help fend off The Authority when they were clearly taking liberties with the rules. Perhaps Cena didn't come out because the moment was supposed to be about Ziggler, and Cena coming and clearing house would once again but Ziggler back behind Cena on the pecking order. Whatever the reason, having the match appear to be all about Cena heading into the show and it ending up not being about him at all was a nice curveball from WWE.
The Big Show: Big Show's heel turn was about as surprising as a heel turn can be from a guy who has had more of them than Derrick Rose. It is pretty unrealistic that Big Show would turn on The Authority just because, after all the crap they did to him last year. It is likely that Big Show will explain himself tomorrow by saying that he needed to protect his family, which might very well lead to more of crying Big Show. Prepare yourself.
Everybody Else: Rusev technically is no longer undefeated, but he went out looking pretty strong, and the spot with him crashing through the table and the race between him and Ziggler to beat the count came across really well. Luke Harper and Erick Rowan could have a sneaky good feud, and Harper once again established himself as an elite worker in WWE. Ryback was the first Team Cena member eliminated, which was somewhat of a surprise, but his offense was pretty strong and he still has momentum from coming back recently, so this loss won't really affect him. Mark Henry was really the only guy who got the short end of the stick in this match. Henry looked to be gearing up for another monster heel run, but was instead buried during the first five seconds of the match.
The Usos vs Gold and Stardust vs The Miz and Mizdow vs Los Matadores- ***1/2
WWE's tag division delivers once more, as they had a solid opening match, with everything that one would want out of a Fatal Four Way tag. There were wild brawling, dives to the outside, and plenty of Mizdow. Seriously, Mizdow might be the most over wrestler in the company right now from a universal standpoint. It appears that at least 90% of the crowd enjoys him, and can anybody else really say that?
Bray Wyatt vs Dean Ambrose-***3/4
A fun, wild match that couldn't possibly be contained by normal match rules. There is something going on here, but WWE has kind of shoved this feud into the backseat, so it is questionable if we are ever going to get a satisfactory explanation. Bray's speaking part when he took out the microphone felt forced and uncomfortable. Hopefully WWE will let them go at it more over the next month, leading to a TLC match at the next PPV.
AJ Lee vs Nikki Bella-DUD
Frustrating match that only indicates that the rumors about AJ's contract running out in WWE are true. Brie kissing AJ was surprising at least, although that was killed by Nikki Bella apparently borrowing Lex Luger's steel-plate forearm and winning the match in five seconds. Brie seeing pleased with Nikki winning indicates either that she and Nikki are back together as sisters, or it is an elaborate mind game that Brie is playing with Nikki.
Team Paige vs Team Natayla-**
Pretty standard fair Divas match, although it was nice to see them get a decent amount of time. Some of the women were pretty good, others not so much, and occasionally it seemed like the offense and the spots were going a little too fast for its own good. Naomi bounced back nicely from her injury, and the potential is still there for her to be a very important figure in the Divas division. The only real problem with this match is that it is unclear where exactly all these women go from here. Were any rivalries really furthered? It just came across as filler.
Adam Rose and The Bunny vs Slator Gator- ¾*
Why WWE would be interested in having a Bunny go over a team of guys with charisma and talent is beyond any comprehensible person. It must be a tradition in wrestling to have at least one running bit that nobody seems to like, yet it keeps going and going and going.
Other Random Thoughts
- The promo to open the show was unnecessary and just slowed everything down. Sure, Cena becoming the only person who could restore The Authority to power was a new twist, but if history is any indicator of how WWE books its power structure, this time next year Triple H could be back in power without Cena doing anything. Opening a PPV with a promo should always be a no-no, maybe because this was technically a free show WWE figured they could get away with it.
- Excellent crowd by St. Louis, a city that for a while was the wrestling capital of the world. They reacted the way WWE wanted them too, and they marked out for Sting's arrival, which probably got a lot of exhales from many of the people involved.
- Roman Reigns' interview was a step in the right direction for him. His previous interviews came across as obviously scripted, but this one came off as more natural and it was less obvious that he was reading of a script. He still has a ways to go in the speaking department, but tonight was a sign of improvement.
- Seriously considered giving the main event five stars until Sting came out. While Sting was an exciting moment for many fans, the match would have been more complete if Ziggler won without his help. WWE missed the boat on having an all-time great match and settled for a very good one. This might be the start of Ziggler's push to superstardom (don't rule him out as a dark horse candidate for the Royal Rumble) but WWE has screwed him up in the past, so we still don't know if this is the start of something big for him, or a one night anomaly.