Monday Morning Backlash: Survivor Series 2010 PPV Report Card and the Firing of John Cena, What’s Next?

Survivor Series 2010 was last night and it’s time to grade the Pay Per View. We also have a huge angle where John Cena will apparently be fired for not helping Wade Barrett of Nexus defeat Randy Orton and claim the WWE Title. There are an awful lot of ways WWE can go from here, so we’ll examine those (Ctrl F: Cena Fired) as well as grade the show’s performers and rate the show’s matches.

Daniel Bryan

Character/Booking: A. Bryan’s win streak continues, as he’s booked extremely strongly. He also got nailed by the Miz again at the end of his match and that continues their rivalry without them needing a feud.

Ring Work: A+. He has a formula for WWE matches which seems to guarantee about 3.5 stars against anyone mobile, which means he’s now responsible for arguably the best singles matches in the career of his last three opponents: Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger and, now, Ted Dibiase. (I may be missing a better Ziggler or Swagger match, but it’s at least arguable).

Final Rating: A. Bold Prediction: By this time next year Daniel Bryan will have held a world title. He’s win a Money in the Bank and cash in, likely against the Miz. He’s being booked so strongly, given so much time and, mostly, being protected so well, it’s hard to see where else this can go.

Ted Dibiase

Character/Booking: C+. Dibiase’s decision to win the US Title rather than be handed the Million Dollar Title again, followed by a very good, clean and hard-fought match against Bryan likely set the groundwork for a face turn. Of course, until then, he’s still a bland, pale imitation of his father, so the rating isn’t too high, but the background work is good.

Ring Work: B+. Sure, he mostly followed Bryan’s lead in the ring, but he was still more than capable of that and had his best singles match to date, so the rating should be good.

Final Rating: B. He held his own and did what he was asked, with a likely bigger role to grow out of the seeds of this. After working with Goldust and now Bryan, he almost has to be improving in the ring, so big things seem in store.

Daniel Bryan defeated Ted Dibiase via LaBelle Lock (*** ½). A step behind the Bryan vs. Ziggler matches and right on par with the Bryan vs. Miz match (I hate quarter stars or the difference would be more visible, this is closer to three and a quarter, Miz a half and Ziggler three-quarters), Bryan might have again claimed match of the night honors with his own WWE-formula.

John Morrison

Character/Booking: C. I don’t really see what he did to further his defender of the weak persona that came out of nowhere, but the story at least gave him something to do for the first time in months.

Ring Work: D. He doesn’t work as a face. His comebacks are timed strangely, he doesn’t make any facial expressions when selling, and he constantly forgets the little comebacks before the full blown big hope spot. Further, he forgot to sell his hurt knee on every comeback and, this is a bit unfair, but it goes under booking, looked really bad as a face after Danielson in the same role the match before was excellent.

Final Rating: C. As much as I was displeased by his performance, all that will likely be remembered of this is the big win he got over a top guy, his biggest win in months. If only he had made the match memorable, too.

Sheamus

Character/Booking: A-. After being booked so strongly for so long, he could afford to lose a match, and it was good to see him giving back. Also notable, his promo pre-match was very good.

Ring Work: B. If he was a half a step faster, he’d be perfect. He’s excellent at timing and seeming a monster with his control while making opponents look strong- no mean feat. A lot of this is his brutal power moves and great facial expressions. To get to an A, he should really stop selling nonsense like Morrison’s weak clotheslines with big back bumps, but he’s still young.

Final Rating: B+. Sheamus continues to impress and should really be going on to more important feuds again soon if Morrison proves unworthy of elevating.

John Morrison defeated Sheamus (** ½). An entertaining match, this was marred by Morrison forgetting selling and an extremely abrupt finish that made Morrison’s win feel like something of a fluke.

Kaval

Character/Booking: B. He didn’t get a ton of personality in this feud, but since he was playing the underdog face with huge offense, it wasn’t the end of the world. A lot of his character came through in his ring work, which was plenty good enough.

Ring Work: B+. Kaval was awesome at building to his big offense, with smaller kicks and spots leading to bigger as the match went on, and he finally hit all of his crazy big spots, including the first phoenix splash I can recall on WWE television (did he use it on NXT? I vaguely recall one there, but could be wrong) towards the end of the match. Unfortunately, matches with this many big moves generally shouldn’t end in roll-ups and really shouldn’t end in roll up sequences that disjointed.

Final Rating: B. Kaval hopefully showed his character is viable and his feud with Ziggler can continue for awhile until a title switch.

Dolph Ziggler

Character/Booking: A. Ziggler, a very good wrestling heel who gets by thanks to Vickie Guerrero and a willingness to cheat, had a very good wrestling match, got control thanks to Vickie Guerrero and won thanks to a willingness to cheat.

Ring Work: B+. At this point Ziggler’s matches that have been above average to good include John Morrison, Rey Mysterio, Kaval, Daniel Bryan, and Kofi Kingston, all of which he received next to no credit for. His matches have been consistently top notch and he deserves both credit and a big push.

Final Rating: A. A case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts, Ziggler’s having one hell of an Intercontinental Title reign.

Dolph Ziggler defeats Kaval using a roll up with a hand full of tights (***). They had a really good back and forth match with Kaval the underdog having to break out bigger and bigger moves to stand a chance, only for Ziggler to cheat in the most basic way possible and steal the win with a roll up. That should continue this two’s issues nicely.

Team Rey Mysterio (Rey Mysterio, Chris Masters, MVP, Kofi Kingston, and Big Show): D. No point in breaking this down since its all character booking. This was fun save for two miscalculations. First, MVP is from Miami and was hugely over, so eliminating him first was nonsense. Next, the faces never really got in enough trouble to get any heat on them, which hurt. Rey and Big Show winning was also a cheap way to keep heat on the two most established guys, making this mostly a waste of time.

Team Alberto Del Rio (Alberto Del Rio, Tyler Rex, Cody Rhodes, Drew McIntyre, Jack Swagger): C. Raised by Del Rio’s awesome presence and some very good work by Swagger, the only heel here who really bothered to put heat on the faces.

Team Mysterio beat Team Del Rio with the only survivors being Rey Mysterio and Big Show (** ½). Acceptable crowd pleasing filler.

Edge

Character/Booking: F. Does he even have a character as a face? Supposedly he’s (ahem) edgy and hates stupid things, but then there’s this ridiculous angle with the kidnapping of Paul Bearer and in his matches he’s just a generic face.

Ring Work: B. This is probably Kane’s best match this year, and, while it was no great shakes, even getting to that at this point is a credit to how good, if simple, a worker Edge can be. He played simple, understated Speed vs. Power here and did it well.

Final Rating: C-. I know some people think this version of Edge as a face, which is basically John Cena pretending to be Randy Orton, is working. Count me in the opposition to that viewpoint.

Kane

Character/Booking: F. He’s been in the worst angles of the past few years as champion and in the ring he’s among the slowest workers in recent memory. He’s booked as a monster, but it still doesn’t feel like he’s established as one. Please get the title off of him.

Ring Work: C. He showed he can still be carried to something watchable, if dull, so that’s something.

Final Rating: F. Seriously, though, several people I know fell asleep or almost fell asleep during this one. It’s time to move the title on.

Kane and Edge went to a no contest thanks to a double-pin (***). Yes the match was dull, but there was nothing technically wrong with it and Edge told exactly the right story to get the best performance you can out of Kane at this point. There is a lot of heat on the ending, but they wanted to leave the interference option open for the main event, didn’t want to put anyone over Edge who’s meant to be the face of the brand, didn’t want to do the cliché DQ or countout, so they came up with something different. I don’t love it, but I get it.

Nexus

Character/Booking: B-. They should have made quicker work of a comedy duo, but Gabriel is really good and Slater is about perfect for a tag team, the group looked dangerous… that’ll do pig, that’ll do.

Ring Work: B+. I’m consistently impressed with how well these two work together and that they’re effective as heels in the era of small guy = face jobber or comedy act.

Final Rating: B. Well, Nexus isn’t going anywhere, so we can look forward to this tag team lasting for a bit, it seems.

Santino Marella and Kozlov

Character/Booking: F. They’re a pure comedy team who aren’t funny, together or apart, challenging for a real title.

Ring Work: F. Both men are abysmal in the ring. Kozlov shouldn’t really have a job if Luke Gallows doesn’t and Santino only worked as a heel where the joke was how annoying he was and then seeing faces punch him like the audience wanted to or get heat by winning when he had no business doing so.

Final Rating: F. Terrible characters and terrible wrestlers.

Nexus defeated Santino and Kozlov (*). Can we keep a real team together for two weeks or so to challenge for the titles?

Randy Orton

Character/Booking: C+. Orton was the hottest character in wrestling before he became an afterthought in the Cena and Nexus storyline, but his persona in ring remains top notch and at least he’s been kept strong in terms of wins.

Ring Work: F. I don’t know if it’s that Barrett isn’t ready or that the fans were waiting for a run in that didn’t happen, or the wrestlers knew their match was just service to the story, but a main event should never be this bland. As the champion and top guy, that falls on Orton.

Final Rating: D. His heel title run of last year is shaping up to be far more successful than this one, with stories not about him and weak ring-work, he’s probably already lost to at least Bryan, Rey Mysterio, Alberto Del Rio and likely a couple others in the category of Best WWE Wrestler Active.

Wade Barrett

Character/Booking: C. Wade remains booked strong- he shouldn’t have defeated Orton clean and wouldn’t have a backup plan having expected Cena to help him- but now he and Nexus have no real manner to challenge for the title again and, without Cena, no obvious enemy.

Ring Work: F. For the first time, he looked like he didn’t belong in a WWE main event.

Final Rating: D. Hopefully a blip in the road, Barrett apparently needs more seasoning before being asked to headline big-four PPVs. No shame in that a year into his tenure on WWE television, but WWE might not want to put him in a position to fail.

Randy Orton defeated Wade Barrett (*). With tons of interest, it’s hard to view this match as anything but a missed opportunity.

Survivor Series PPV Grade: B. We got plenty of very good wrestling on the undercard and while the match quality fell apart at the end, the big angle promised was delivered on in unexpected, if anticlimactic manner. Still, it has me curious, satisfied as a buyer and wanting more, so that’s a success.

John Cena Fired: Where do we go from here?

Finally, we come to John Cena. Cena was the special referee of this match and called it straight down the middle, meaning Randy Orton won and Cena is to be fired. Firing Cena is a huge, bold move on the part of the WWE and was done, on the show, very carefully. The Miz suggested he’d be cashing his shot in soon, but his appearance was intended to suggest that soon didn’t equate to tonight, but since he’s a heel, that seemed more like false innuendo to get him to cash in tonight. Cena’s meeting earlier established that he’d try and do the right thing and Truth would have to turn heel to interfere, which was a strong possibility. Cena acting so good and Orton blowing off his concern with Cena both implied friction. Instead, all of this foreshadowing went to naught as Cena proved as good as his word. This is carefully booked and, for the moment, I don’t believe this was at all a change of plans- the WWE has somewhere to go from here and we just don’t see it yet… or at least I don’t. Looking back through wrestling history, I found seven ways to bring Cena back from this. Here they are from least to most likely.

7. John Cena could just go to Smackdown. While not a violation of the literal translation of being fired in kayfabe, this certainly breaks the spirit of the agreement, although with the WWE wanting Smackdown to grow, it can’t be wholly discounted. Still, they hardly mention who is a Raw and who is a Smackdown Superstar at this point, so it has to be ruled unlikely.

6. The WWE wrestlers can go on some kind of ridiculous strike to get Cena back immediately. He’s apparently a great guy and every face’s best friend as storyline dictates, so they could unite to demand him back. This would be incredibly cheap and undermine the entire proceeding, likely turning far too many fans against Cena, who the fans have finally united behind.

5. Nexus could simply choose not to fire him yet, beating him down and refusing to free him as torture, then putting him in worse and worse situations to try and break his will. This would actually likely work well, but is probably too much of a bait and switch to be very likely.

4. Cena takes from Mid-South and comes back under a mask. Junkyard Dog was, at one point, the biggest draw in Mid-South history and lost a loser-leaves-town match, only to come back as Stagger Lee under a mask and keep fighting evil his own way until he was reinstated as JYD. This was repeated with Andre the Giant and Dusty Rhodes, among others, at various times. Cena could don a mask and return, but even for PG WWE, that’s likely too cheesy.

3. Next, we have the big reveal of the GM, likely as Triple H, who can then re-hire Cena and unite with him against Nexus, noting that they pissed him off so much that he’s returning to help Cena defeat them or simply reinstating Cena to dismantle them. This, of course, makes it seem like Cena couldn’t handle his own issues and seems weak, but it should get one hell of a reaction.

2. Cena has got more of the crowd behind him than ever right now and the way to continue that might be outlaw Cena. WWE could view that as mixing the best of Hogan and Austin, having Cena, like Austin did in 1998 when fired, fight and wreak havoc until he’s re-hired.

1. John Cena could have needed time off for personal reasons, a movie, or an injury that was simply kept quietly under wraps. With this possibility, he could, like Stone Cold before him, become strictly a character to limit physical activity (if an injury), disappear for a bit to re-emerge and help save WWE from Nexus, return eventually as a mystery partner, or later be reinstated by the GM in some other dire circumstance. Keeping Cena off television for awhile after Raw, however, makes the stipulation feel important, puts heat on Nexus and the storyline, and is, at this point, just smart business.

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