23rd Nov2015

‘WWE Survivor Series 2015′ Recap & Review

by Phil Wheat

As we head into this years Survivor Series there’s not only the loss of the current WWE champion to deal with but also an apparent terrorist threat to deal with too. No wonder the WWE let Lillian Garcia blast out “The Star Spangled Banner” as loud and as bold as as she possibly could!  That aside, It will be interesting to see where the 2015 Survivor Series is headed given the almost ramshackle last-minute nature in which the matches seem to have been put together… Of course what was planned on was the celebration of 25 years of the Phenom himself, The Undertaker. After all, 1990′s Survivor Series (yes, the event has been going that long) was the official debut of Mark Calaway’s now-iconic character in the WWE.

As always SPOILERS if you haven’t seen the PPV yet…

survivor-series-2015

After Garcia’s empassioned performance, the pay per view opens with a video package outlining ‘Takers history, his feud with the Wyatts and – of course – his reconnecting with his “brother” Kane. As a long time WWE fan, there’s nothing quite like seeing the Brothers of Destruction working together, even if the pair are getting on in years. As for the video package itself, lets just say that the WWE know how to put promos together well. If you weren’t psyched for this PPV before, you certainly will be after!

The matches kick-off proper with the semi-final of the Survivor Series WWE Champion Tournament between Roman Reigns and Alberto Del Rio. Once again the fans in attendance make their feelings on Reigns very clear – I don’t see how he can ever become a champion in the current WWE climate, the fans only get behind him when he’s the underdog or teaming up with Dean Ambrose… The match sees some pretty stiff work between the two and surprisingly Reigns looks tired from the outset. As for Del Rio, he hasn’t been himself since he came back to the WWE – maybe it’s the fact he’s no longer the show-off he once was? Reigns mounts his usual punches and clotheslines offence. Del Rio gets a two-count on Reigns thanks to a backstabber, then a second near-fall. Reigns pulls out the Samoan drop as (again, another overused move in Reigns arsenal) to score a near-fall. A squabble on the top turnbuckle and an unlikely miss on the double foot-stomp leaves Del Rio open for a Superman Punch and a sit-down Power Bomb from Reigns – to no avail as only a two-count ensues. Despite applying the cross armbreaker, it’s a missed leap off the ropes that ends Del Rio as he speared by Roman Reigns for the win. Which, honestly, was to be expected.

Winner: Roman Reigns

A brief behind-the-curtain “interview” and some hard words from Kevin Owens to Roman Reigns and the next match – featuring Owens taking on Dean Ambrose – begins. Ambrose mounts some fast-paced offence early on, easily overpowering the more cumbersome Owens. Though it’s not long before the pair are exchanging not only some hard-fought offence but a myriad of near-falls. Both guys eventually knock each other down to start a ten-count before gettin gup and exchanging fisticuffs once again. Owens misses a HUGE Moonsault and Ambrose capitalises with a elbow off the ropes but comes up short with a mere two-count. After some trash-talk from Owens (something of a highlight of his tonight), Ambrose hits a huge clothesline that looks like it almost takes Owens’ head off. Some more scrambling outside the ring and a couple of superkicks from Owens and Ambrose eventually clinches a win by countering Owens’ now-trademark finisher, the Pop-up Powerbomb, with a Hurricanrana – scoring a pin with his Dirty Deeds DDT.

Winner: Dean Ambrose

Another superb promo for The Undertaker follows, replete with some talking heads from Stone Cold Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, Triple H and JBL. Again, yet another fantastic promo – doens’t hurt that The Undertaker’s mystique can sell the character even without any OTT promos.

A traditional 5-on-5 Survivor Series match is up next, between Ryback, the Lucha Dragons and The Usos, who take on  the oddly-matched team  of The New Day, King Barrett and Sheamus. Some pre-match trash talk from The New Day ends thanks to Sheamus making a fool of himself once again (his ridculous attitude is starting to match his ridiculous facial hair). Apart from seeing The Usos and the Lucha Dragons fly out of the ring on top of the team of heels, followed by Ryback leaping off the top rope on to… well, everyone(!), there was nothing major of note in this criminally under-promoted match. That’s not to say it wasn’t a bad match, but when you’re putting together a traditional Survivor Series match at Survivor Series, you could really do with some pre-match promotion. As for the eliminations, King Barrett was eliminated by Sin Cara; Xavier Woods eliminated Jimmy Uso; Sheaus eliminated Sin Cara; Big E was eliminated by Jey Uso; the rest of New Day literally just wandered off into the back with Big E leaving Sheamus all alone again the team of Jey Uso, Kalisto and Ryback. So it’s all over then, even if Sheamus did mount a pretty decent offence, and scored a near-fall, he stood no chance against three guys did he? Ryback eventually hit the Shellshock for the win. Another loss for the Money in the Bank champ… Hmm, where have we seen that before? How about every match Sheamus has been in since winning the MITB briefcase!

Winners: Ryback, Jey Uso and Kalisto

Oh look it’s a Divas match in a WWE Pay Per View. That’ll be all of five minutes then! Surprisingly not… Paige opens the match strong, taking charge of proceedings and scoring a number of near-falls and punishing Charlotte with some strong offence. Charlotte eventually locks in the figure four, dragging Paige to the end of the ring for a severe-looking figure four against the ring apron. A brilliant face-plant by Paige against the edge of the ring makes Charlotte look stronger, and more importantly more vicious (she has to be given last weeks promo or it was all for naught) than ever, really making it look like Charlotte is taking out all her agression on Paige in this match. The two Divas put on a fantastic show, really pushing their bodies hard, yet there’s no response from the crowd. For shame. The Divas get a long match and the crowd look and sound disinterested. What does the WWE have to do? A neckbreaker off the ropes and Charlotte grabs a two-count. Some more back and forth, a spear and second neckbreaker from Charlotte and the fight ends up, for a second time, outside the ring. Paige takes the time to showboat on the barricade and pays for it with a spear – ON TO OFF THE BARRICADE! A fantastic, if slightly clumsy, move that does nothing to elicit a response from the Atlanta audience. Charlotte eventually gets Paige back in the ring for a Figure-Eight submission and the win.

Winner, and still Divas Champion: Charlotte

A quick chat with the Kick-Off panel and we’re back with a match between Tyler Breeze and Dolph Ziggler. Bizarrely the two wrestling “characters” are almost interchangable so a match between the two should, I say should, make for a good match. It looks like Ziggler is trying to compete with Breeze’s dressing up gimmick by slapping on an 80s metal get up once more. Well he’s got the hair for it. Poodle-perm-tastic! The match opens with some fast-paced back and forth between Ziggler and Breeze before Breeze locks Ziggler up in a half crab. A “mistake” by Breeze – leaping off the top rope into a dropkick by Ziggler – provides one of the highlights of the PPV.  One of the WWE’s patented ridiculous sequence of rolls and near-falls follows. Ziggler scores another near-fall with a backslide before Breeze hits the Unprettier (yes, the very same moved used by Captain Charisma himself, Christian Cage) for the three-count and the win. One of the quickest, and shortest, matches of the night.

Winner: Tyler Breeze

Now it’s time for the first big match of the night – the Brothers of Destruction vs. The Wyatt Family (all four of them it would seem). Another brilliant promo video, underpinned by soundbites from Bray Wyatt – who can REALLY sell a storyline – and the hype is well and truly built for this one! A huge, and I mean huge, intro for both the Wyatt’s and the Brothers of Destruction – probably as long as the previous match – and finally we’re underway… [Side Note: the video footage playing behind 'Taker as he enters, showing all his old looks over the 25 years, is inspired. Way to keep the mythos going WWE]

As the match gets going Eric Rowan is swiftly eliminated from the match with a double chokeslam, leaving Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper and the man-mountain Braun Strowman to face ‘Taker and Kane. Unremarkably Bray makes Strowman sit out the match proper (after all to get beaten by the Brothers of Destruction would destroy Braun’s unbeatable mystique). So it’s Harper and Bray Wyatt versus the BoD then. There’s a lot of back and forth, with both teams taking charge at points throughout the match. Taker pulled off some solid moves whilst Harper and Wyatt were there usual on-form selves. It would be Harper that would end up taking the brunt of the beating from the Undertaker and his “brother” Kane. But thankfully Strowman would not totallt escape unharmed – the brothers put him solidly thorugh the Spanish announce table (will that table EVER stay intact during a PPV?) for a huge pop from the crowd. Back in the ring, Wyatt hits the Sister Abigail on Undertaker with kane thankfully making the save after a two-count… The second highlight of this match sees Undertaker and Kane interupting Bray Wyatt’s creepy crawl with a double sit-up. The surprise move would lead to ‘Taker and Kane over-powering the Wyatt’s and scoring a double chokeslam. The Undertaker would then hit the Tombstone Piledriver and pin Luke Harper for the win.

Winners: The Undertaker and Kane

Main Event time and the final of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship tournament. Roman Reigns versus Dean Ambrose. And from the get-go we know who the audience is rooting for. Huge boos for Reigns as he’s announced… Though it sounds like the audience has changed their mind by the end of the fast-paced and surprisingly enjoyable main event.

A true fight between the two there’s plenty of action as the match gets underway. Reigns hit a suplex. Ambrose mounts a huge offence: spinning clothesline, suicide dive, missile drop kick. But only to score a two-count. Reigns hits a Powerbomb for a near-fall. Ambrose hit a sunset flip into a Powerbomb, he follows that with a leap off the top rope, directly into a  Superman Punch from Reigns and another near-fall. More huge moves from both wrestlers and Ambrose almost scores the win after hitting Reigns with a Dirty Deeds. An exchange of blows some trademark fast, and hard, offence from Ambrose wold lead to him making a huge mistake and running into a Spear from from Reigns. A three-count secures Reigns the victory.

Winner, and new WWE Heavyweight Champion: Roman Reigns

Celebrations ensue, out comes Triple H for the confrontation. So far, so expected. But what’s this? Reigns hits the spear on Triple H, really pissing off the boss. However Reigns’ victory (over both Ambrose and Triple H) is short-lived as Sheamus comes out for the Money in the Bank cash-in. Two Brogue kicks and Sheamus win the pinfall. End of Reigns’ reign and say hello to your [undoubtedly] Authority-backed new Champ, Sheamus. Who knew the Irish loser (come on, he’s lost almost every match since winning MITB) would, especially after the ridiculous “Jiggy” comment earlier in the PPV, end up as WWE Heavyweight Champion at the end of the night? Er, everyone… Predictable much WWE?

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Well, well. Finally a pay per view I can – almost – appreciate. Even with all the behind the scenes probelms prior to the event the 2015 Survivor Series managed to pull off a few decent matches, even if the championship tournament ended with the oh-so-predictable winners and the head-to-head between Ambrose and Reigns. The PPV at least went out with something of a bang thanks to the final “twist” in Sheamus’ successful cash-in of his Money in the Bank briefcase. Again an expected move, but thankfully they let Sheamus win on his own with no interference from anyone else. Small victories eh?

Where does this put Reigns and Sheamus going forward? That I’m certainly interested to see. Reigns, despite the huge push, is still not over with the WWE crowd. Sheamus? Well he’s probably going to be The Authority’s next bitch, but with his “take no shit” attitude I can’t see Sheamus towing Triple H’s line for too long. Although if being champ allows him to actually win some matches again it will be all worth it.

Maybe Sheamus will tow the party line long enough, and stay WWE Heavyweight Champion long enough, to be a thorn in a returning Seth Rollins’ side? The reuniting of The Shield against Sheamus and The Authority? Only in my dreams…

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