2012 Survivor Series Preview

Thursday, November 15, 2012

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving tradition?

Let me suggest two possibilities. 
The night before Thanksgiving

-This is, according to some internet dating service, probably Christian Mingle, the best hookup night of the year.  Sort of the hookup equivalent of Black Friday.  Blackout Wednesday.  I love me some Christian Mingle, by the way – it’s not just that it looks to organize like-minded people in the manner of J Date or Grinder, but it explicitly advertises that it is where users “find God’s match for you.” That is tremendous stuff; I don’t want to litigate the theological view that there is some master design where people are twinned (that’s a tick above my pay grade) but granting for the sake of the discussion that you have a “soulmate” it seems unlikely that the best source of the revelation of that divine plan to be a profit driven internet company.  I have long held the view that with the success of the “Left Behind” book series that some celebrity who works those corners of that subculture, a Kirk Cameron or a Stephen Baldwin or a Victoria Jackson, should pimp rapture jewelry, some type of bracelet that signifies to the cleanup crew that the wearer has been authorized for beam up.  Even if it’s just a pre-rapture signifier, perhaps to prospective Blackout Wednesday hookups, it might be a good way to bring together those with similar views of the End of Days. 

2.     Pie.  ‘Cause that shit is tasty.

For me, it’s graps – specifically the WWF/WWE Thanksgiving tradition since 1987 – The Survivor Series.  The 2012 edition is this Sunday from Indianapolis, let’s take a look at the card:

WWE Title Match:C.M. Punk (w/Paul Heyman) vs. John Cena vs. Ryback
CM Punk is the lineal WWF Champion; he’s held the belt for just a few days shy of a year; he’s a couple of weeks away from the longest WWF title reign since Hogan’s first.  Which was, you may recall, sort of a thing. His keeping the belt in any way possible has become the thrust of the title run, which is as it should be.  They’re missing the chance to educate some fans about the history of the WWF Title with some filmed pieces; even if they were just for the youtube page (Hey, let me shill for some WWE programming, “Are You Serious”, a Mystery Science Theater like show hosted by the Road Dogg and Josh Matthews that has new episodes each Sunday, is the best six minutes of WWE programming almost every week) a couple of minutes on every single title run since Hogan’s would give Punk’s accomplishment some heft.  Two minutes of “this championship run you remember or at least have heard about in History class is represented by this clip package” and then Punk says “I’m now better than X.  X is provably, demonstrably < Me”.  The error WWE makes is in tone; Punk says “I’m important, I’ve had the belt longer than everyone since Diesel” and the babyfaces and announcers blow it off – if instead it were treated as a real achievement , and the tone was “how can we keep this jerkface Punk from becoming the greatest WWE Champion since Hulkamania” it would serve the goal of getting across the value of the title. 

He’s going to keep the belt here; John Cena’s current program isn’t organized around the title chase; instead they’ve lifted the premise of a recent TNA angle for a soap opera program with he and Danielson’s former valet AJ (they like AJ, they stuck her in the figurehead commissioner role but decided that wasn’t the best way to use her; it sort of looks like she’s going to become a romantic partner for Cena; given the way these things go in wrestling, it’s probably best that whomever it is she is actually sleeping with looks to make other arrangements; at some point, I’ll be compelled to offer some sort of list of best ever WWE/WWF valets/divas/ladies .  I may look to finesse that in a way that suggests I’m taking into consideration qualities outside of the carnal.  You are unlikely to believe me.)  As with all things Cena, it’s written for people who are not me.  I expect he has to take the fall here; I also continue in the expectation I offered in the Summer Slam preview, that he beats Rock for the strap at Mania.

Ryback is doing a Goldberg gimmick.  Juiced up no talent running through guys while fans chant. If he was going to take the belt they’d have given it to him last month, when he failed to take the title due to referee screwjob.  I’m not sure how he fits in this picture going forward; it might make sense to move him over to the other belt. 

(Edit - This was not a good match, Punk kept, pinning Cena after Ryback hit his move and then got taken out by Tyler Black, Jon Moxley, and Yokozuna's brother, all making their debuts - I enjoyed that, hopefully they'll use Black for more than just feeding Ryback.)

World Title Match: Big Show vs. Sheamus

Lost given the emphasis on the length of Punk’s run was the length of Sheamus’s – he took what is essentially the secondary strap at Mania from Danielson and kept it until last month, losing clean to the Show (doing a monster heel gimmick, basically the same gimmick Mark Henry did a year ago). His run was the longest with this belt in ten years, since Hunter’s second.  Sheamus has essentially been turned into a pale Cena; nothing really bothers him, he does a lot of juvenile comedy – the WWF top card guy template has become wisecracking action hero; his feet might be bleeding, he might be facing insurmountable numbers, he may only have one bullet left in the chamber and if the bus dips below 55 miles per hour America’s Sweetheart Sandra Bullock will die – but he’s still got a one liner for you.
Neither Sheamus nor Cena is 1986 David Addison. 

At some point Dolph Ziggler’s going to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase against a babyface; could be that Sheamus wins here and then immediately loses to Ziggler – who then maybe loses to Ryback.  I’m compressing the timetable on all of that. 

(Edit - 3 stars, ended on a DQ, it's Shows' best workrate program in a decade.)

Survivor Series Match:Team Foley (Randy Orton , Kofi Kingston, Daniel Bryan, Kane & The Miz w/Mick Foley) vs. Team Ziggler (Dolph Ziggler, Alberto Del Rio, Wade Barrett, Damien Sandow & Cody Rhodes)

As of the time of this writing (before the go home Smackdown taping) this is the only elimination match set for this year’s show.  I’ll leave in this language even if I wind up editing in a preview for a Mysterio led match that gets set up later this week. 

Hardcore Legend Mick Foley came back during this build to challenge Punk to a Survivor Series match; they made the match one week then totally undid that booking the following week.  So, we’re left with Foley’s team going after Dolph Ziggler’s team, for no apparent reason.

Foley’s team is threatening to cannibalize itself. Orton’s still a babyface, feuding with Del Rio, and jogging in place, still looking unbelievably bored.  There’s a look that some wrestlers have as they walk down the aisle when they are about to lose a big match; Orton has that look all the time.  Were he to turn soon it wouldn’t surprise. Kingston’s the IC Champ, he took from Miz and has beaten him multiple times.  He doesn’t seem to make sense as a heel, but he’s refused to embrace the babyface turning Miz in a way designed to draw boos. Danielson and Kane are babyface tag champs; Danielson was a super hot heel act who they decided to turn into a going nowhere comedy tag (incidentally, the tag belts aren’t the lineal WWF tag belts, they were retired – these are the Smackdown tag belts that were started in 2002.  Why did they take their historic tag belts out of commission in favor of the more recent tag belts?  Why did they spend a hundred million dollars to lose two US Senate elections? Yeah, smarter people than I make those decisions.  Linda, if you weren’t following, decided to superkick the top of the GOP ticket and then toss it through a plate glass window at the end of the campaign, putting out ads saying that people should vote Obama and McMahon on their ballots.  Bot Linda and Mitt are the Jannetty in that breakup.)  You’d guess that a Danielson/Kane feud probably follows their breakup, that could happen at any time, meaning that one of them would be turning heel. The Miz has apparently turned babyface in the past two weeks; he seems too smarmy to be a babyface, and were he to intentionally lose this match and re-turn heel it wouldn’t surprise.  Maybe they all turn on Foley.  Maybe Foley turns on all of them.    

Ziggler, as mentioned, has a Money in the Bank briefcase and at somepoint he’ll wrestle a babyface for the Smackdown strap.  Del Rio’s feuding with Orton.  Barrett, I guess, is feuding with Sheamus, or will be once he’s done with the Show.  Sandow and Cody are presumably about to take the tag belts from Danielson and Kane.

(Edit - 3 1/2 stars, best match of the night; they also added a 3 1/4 star elimination match that featured the babyface team keeping 4 survivors and gave Tyson Kidd multiple eliminations - a show with Kidd and Black both getting pushed is not one I can complain too loudly about.  Ziggler pinned Orton in this match, Orton's nearing a turn.)

US Title Match:Antonio Cesaro vs. R-Truth
Cesaro is Claudio Castagnoli, a good indie worker, although not quite at the level of Chris Hero and Tyler Black, who are still sitting in developmental.  I’m glad he has the belt and look forward to the multitude of 90 second matches he appears in on my TV. He took the US Title from…Santino?  I don’t feel like looking it up.  Cesaro is a European heel, knowing a bunch of languages and thinking health care is a public good.  In almost any other time in wrestling history Killings would need to start carving up his forehead to keep his paycheck; there’s nothing wrong with him, but absent his falling through some tables I’m uncertain what he could do to generate any interest.  

(Edit - not 90 seconds but not much more.  Claudio keeps.)

Divas Title Match:Eve vs. Kaitlyn
Kaityln is 25th on the Power Poll.  That’s basically all I got about this. 

It’s not a good card; Ryback can’t do anything at all, and that drags down what has otherwise been a good Punk/Cena combination.  Show had maybe his best ever singles match last month against Sheamus, that still didn’t make it great but it was solidly worth watching.  Seems reasonable this one will also be fine. Elimination matches are as good as the time allowed; the US Title gets 6 minutes and I won’t watch the women’s match.

Not a lot to see at Survivor Series 2012. Were you, for whatever reason, to be basing a decision to spend cash monies on this show based upon my recommendation, it would be that you did not. Consider throwing that money toward Christian Mingle.  God’s match for you is waiting.  Probably at some bar next Wednesday night.

Here are the ten best Survivor Series matches of all time; and every 4 star match in WWE/TNA this year, ranked in qualitative order.

(I didn't watch.  The show was just about exactly what I had expected in terms of match quality.)

Top 10 Survivor Series Matches of All Time:
1. Bret Hart d. Steve Austin ('96)
2. Bret Hart d. Shawn Michaels ('92)
3. Bret Hart d. Diesel ('95)
4. Shawn Michaels d. Bret Hart ('97)
5. Eddy Guerrero/Chavo Guerrero d. Kurt Angle/Chris Benoit d. Edge/Rey Mysterio ('02)
6. Chris Jericho/Christian/Randy Orton/Scott Steiner/Mark Henry d. Shawn Michaels/RVD/Booker T/Dudleys ('03)
7. Sid d. Shawn Michaels ('96)
8. Strike Force/Young Stallions/Rougeaus/Killer Bees/British Bulldogs d. Hart Foundation/Islanders/Demolition/Bolsheviks/New Dream Team ('87)
9. Bob Backlund d. Bret Hart ('94)
10. CM Punk d. Alberto del Rio ('11)

These are the four star matches from WWE/TNA:
1. Daniel Bryan v. CM Punk (May WWE) 4 1/2
2. Kurt Angle/AJ Styles v. Chris Daniels/Frankie Kazarian (June TNA) 4
3. Brock Lesnar v. John Cena (April WWE) 4
4. Jeff Hardy v. Austin Aries (October TNA) 4
5. CM Punk v. Chris Jericho (April WWE) 4
6. James Storm v. Bobby Roode (Ocrtober TNA) 4
7. Bobby Roode v. RVD (May TNA) 4
8. Kurt Angle v. AJ Styles (May TNA) 4
9. Kurt Angle v. Jeff Hardy (April TNA) 4
10. Undertaker v. HHH (April WWE) 4
11. Austin Aries v. Jeff Hardy (Nov TNA) 4
12. CM Punk v. John Cena (Sept WWE) 4
13. AJ Styles v. Chris Daniels (July TNA) 4
14. Kurt Angle/AJ Styles v. Chris Daniels/Frankie Kazarian (Sept TNA) 4
15. Chavo Guerrero/Hernandez v. AJ Styles/Kurt Angle v. Chris Daniels/Frankie Kazarian (Oct TNA) 4
16. Austin Aries v. Bobby Roode (July TNA) 4

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