My 2011 Summer Slam preview/recap was here.
I write a quarterly preview of each of the big four WWE PPVs; Survivor Series has been the smallest of those big four, almost to the point of disappearing as of a couple of years ago. Probably as part of the liberal elite's war on Thanksgiving. But this year, the 25th Survivor Series features the return to the ring of the biggest mainstream celebrity ever to come from the company, The Rock.
It was Survivor Series '96 where the Rock made his PPV debut, like this show, that show was at Madison Square Garden, but unlike this year, Kirk Hiner, for whom I write these quarterly previews, and I attended that show.
We saw the best match in Survivor Series history that night.
It is unlikely anything Sunday will approach 1996. Here's the card.
1. Rock/John Cena v. Miz/Killings
-When last we left, John Cena was the company's top babyface, still booed by a sizeable percentage of the fanbase for the same reason that Kirk Hiner hated Madonna back in 1995. Here, he's teaming with a returning Rock, in his first match in 7 years, in a program that's designed to build momentum for the Mania main event. WWE unsurprisingly frittered away all of CM Punk's heat from the summer; some of which went to Killings and Miz, who became the primary "anti-establishment" mouthpieces; thereby converting what was edgy babyface criticism of the company into neutered, pretty typical heel whining. Punk learned his lesson. Trying to get people interested in WWE again. Asshole.
In effort to stop that whining, Cena felt the need to request that his mortal enemy, Rock, join him for this match, and Rock, for reasons that escape sensible analysis, accepted. If you're asking why WWE would spend Rock's first match in 7 years on a thrown together tag at Survivor Series against Ron Killings, it's a fair question.
Miz and Killings presumably go over when Rock and Cena fall apart; Rock getting pinned by Miz would both allow for a launching point to Mania and give Miz something to crow about in promos for the rest of his career. The MegaPowers teaming is probably the only reason why anyone will buy this show, but this is not a match likely to yield a lot of workrate.(3 stars, they put the babyfaces over, Rock getting the fall. It was fine. Crowd killed Cena; they played into it; Rock Bottom postmatch.)
2. WWE Title Match: Alberto Del Rio © vs. CM Punk
-When last we left, Punk and Cena were blowing off their feud with a 4 star title v title match at Summer Slam that immediately segued into Alberto Del Rio's cashing in his money in the bank briefcase to take the belt. Del Rio and Cena switched and switched back subsequent, meaning Del Rio is on his second stint as WWF Champ. Del Rio actually regained the belt by pinning Punk in a 3 way with Cena, so its following multiple pinfall losses to Del Rio on PPV that Punk gets this rematch. No, not a lot of steam behind this match, no. Punk's own fault; he's only been in 4 of the 10 best matches in WWE this year. He looks like a Waffle House cook by the way.
This will be the best match of the night; a title switch makes sense, and then a switch back to Del Rio next month in time for him to give it back to Cena before Mania. (3 1/2 stars and a spot at the back of the the all time Survivor Series list; Punk went over; a little shorter than ideal.)
3. Smackdown Title Match: Mark Henry © vs. The Big Show
-When last we left, Christian was dropping the Smackdown title to Orton in what has been the second best WWE match in 2011; Orton then dropped to Henry, getting a monster heel push. As part of that push, he put the Show out of action; he has now returned, and here we are. This will not be a good match. I'll say Henry keeps; it would not surprise if Daniel Bryan (Bryan Danielson, the best wrestler in the hemisphere) unsuccessfully attempted to cash in his money in the bank briefcase, which would probably serve as a heel turn. I'd say it would be a burial, but that would imply he was currently above ground. (No Danielson presence, outside of chants from the crowd; no Foley presence either, even though he's back and they were at MSG. Henry kept, they did an injury angle with him postmatch. This was not good to watch.)
4. US Title: Dolph Ziggler v. John Morrison
-Speaking of burials. When last we left, Dolph Ziggler (managed by Eddy's widow) was US Champion, where he remains. He lost a recent TV match to John Morrison, who, like Bryan, hadn't been so much doing a losing streak gimmick as he had just been losing. Morrison's gotten in trouble for dating the wrong person, tweeting the wrong ideas, and generally being a good wrestler in the wrong ways - his deal apparently is coming to an end, so either he re-ups and wins this match or (more likely) a loss here finishes up his run. He heads to TNA, gets pushed for a month, loses to Bischoff's kid and then gets sentenced to the X division ghetto. (3 stars, Ziggler keeps in a short match; Zach Ryder gets bigger pop than he deserves in a postmatch run in)
5. Survivor Series Elimination Match: Randy Orton , Mason Ryan, Kofi Kingston, Sin Cara, Sheamus vs.
, Cody Rhodes, Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger & Hunico
-Orton captains the babyface team; Ryan is a typical crappy gassed up WWE superstar; Kingston is half of the tag champs, his partner, Evan Bourne (Matt Sydal) is currently on a drug suspension, Sin Cara is Mistico, who had been on a drug suspension, and Sheamus is good and pale.
They will win. Maybe Orton, Ryan, Sheamus all survive.
-Barrett's a good enough heel, as is Cody, a legit injury to Christian moves Ziggler into his second match of the evening along with Swagger (they are now stablemates, both managed by Vicki, echoing a partnership I've been doing for a couple of years now in the Counterfactual). . Hunico was the fake Sin Cara during his suspension, then lost his mask and is now just a guy in a wifebeater.
They will lose. (They didn't; Cody and Barrett survived a long mediocre match; Mistico blew out his knee in the first highspot.)
6. Women will also wrestle. (I didn't watch).
You gotta really want to see the Rock to be interested in buying this show; if given time Ziggler/Morrison would be good, and it's entirely possible that Punk/Del Rio will wind up cracking the below list of the ten best Survivor Series matches of all time. Those are the matches I'll be looking for (that and who I get to use for the Counterfactual) but the buyrate is solely about the Rock.
Here's the list.