Metalhead’s Riff: Dissecting Survivor Series 2016

It’s been quite a while since I last wrote anything about wrestling but, it did seem to me like Survivor Series would be a great time to get back in the saddle and start ranting about wrestling once again. Yes, I know, those pills I have to take for my health do have some weird side-effects apparently. Anyway, traditional 5-on-5 Survivor Series matches, a RAW vs Smackdown feud, Zayn vs Miz, the cruiserweights, SuperBaldy vs The Man With No Neck, I mean what could possibly go wrong, right?

As it turned out, quite a few things.

Kickoff Match – TJ Perkins, Noam Dar and Rich Swann defeated Tony Nese, Drew Gulak and Ariya Daivari in 11:30 via pin:

I wasn’t really surprised to find the cruiserweights on the pre-show, and I’m not even saying this in a negative way, I mean, at least they’re on the show. That said, while this was another solid effort from those guys, it was in no way differentiable from the usual RAW effort, meaning no effort was made to promote this and no attempt was made to make it more interesting via a storyline of some kind which as been the story of the cruiserweights since they appeared on RAW. One could wonder how WWE went from a highly acclaimed CWC tournament over the summer to card-fillers without goals, directions or anything resembling heat, then again, this is WWE after all so why bother? It wouldn’t have been THAT difficult when you think about it, add two more guys, give them 10 more minutes (easily feasible on a 2 hour pre-show where, aside from the matches, literally NOTHING happened) and make it a Survivor Series elimination match because, you know, this is Survivor Series and you might even have the opportunity to do some character building here and there. As things stand now, Rich Swann is over, TJ still doesn’t know 3D  happened some time ago and the other four guys were competent in their role of the Other Four Guys. Cruiserweights in WWE, it’s still a head-scratcher.

Kickoff Match – Kane defeated Luke Harper in 9:10 via pin:

I really don’t get this one. I mean, don’t get me wrong, It wasn’t a bad match by any means, thanks to Harper who still channels Bruiser Brody in a good way as far as I’m concerned, but, here is were I get confused. Here you have a guy like Harper, who is big, moves well in the ring, is a good worker and really doesn’t need much to get over, and what does WWE do? Nothing. I mean, it isn’t even difficult or anything, he already has the wild-man thing going on, emphasize that a bit more, give him some momentum step back and watch the fireworks. I mean, literally, that’s it, that’s all they need to do with Harper. Instead, it’s apparently more important to give the obsolete Kane a victory. Ah well…

Survivor Series Women’s Match – Team Raw (Charlotte, Bayley, Nia Jax, Alicia Fox and Sasha Banks) defeated Team Smackdown (Becky Lynch, Nikki Bella, Natalya, Alexa Bliss and Carmella) in 23:40 (Charlotte and Bayley survived):

Nikki Bella was supposed to be in the match but was attacked just before and was therefore replaced with Natalya, which wasn’t a bad idea, since, you know, Canada, Hart Family and all that. Speaking of Natalya she seems to be the prime suspect for the attack although Charlotte and Dana did look kinda smug when Nikki Bella didn’t appear. Then again those two always look smug whatever happens so maybe it’s just me. Anyway, a few sloppy spots aside, this was a rather fun affair with the main story being Nia Jax’s very competent performance a a near-unstoppable monster. Just had an issue with Jax’s elimination which seemed a bit anti-climatic to me. I mean I don’t mind Becky pulling this off, but it just seemed rushed and too easy after all the destruction Jax had wrought. I don’t know, first hit her with a truck or something. For the others, Foxie brought enthusiasm, as she always does, Carmella still seems a bit lost out there, Sasha didn’t really have a big role, aside for making up the numbers, which was a bit disappointing, Alexa is definitely improving, plus I like her Harley Quinn homage, Charlotte has really grown into her top heel role since they wheeled her old man back to his retirement home and Bayley and Becky are still a joy to watch, especially when they’re allowed to simply go at it. Speaking of Bayley, she’s yet another WWE puzzle. We all know she’s incredibly talented and popular, but the way she’s been booked until now is incomprehensible to me. It’s actually a testament to said popularity that the way they used her hasn’t hurt her much. Then again, I do have the sinking feeling that her sudden rise as Charlotte’s main challenger is just time-filler until WWE is ready to unveil Charlotte’s WrestleMania challenger, whomever that will be. Anyway, a rather enjoyable match overall.

WWE Intercontinental Title Match – Champion The Miz defeated Sami Zayn in 15:15 via pinfall:

Aside from the finish, there were a lot of things they did well here. First, one of the reasons Zayn is so over is because he really excels in an underdog role. And that can be attributed to his stellar selling. So the story of the dastardly Miz doing everything he could to cut off Zayn’s legs and Sami heroically trying to overcome the pain worked liked a charm. Second, say what you will about The Miz, but he’s a master at riling people up. And whether that’s in a good way or bad way, it doesn’t really matter, he does it and he does it well. Also, when faced with the right opponent (like Zayn or Ziggler) he’s actually competent in the ring. Finally Maryse is hot, which doesn’t hurt the overal picture. So here I was, actually enjoying the match, wondering who would win and what the consequences would be, and then they HAD to do that finish. The now infamous “we’re in Canada so we HAVE to do a Montreal screw-job re-hash finish” which completely killed the match. I mean I would have been fine with some Maryse interference but this was yet another example of WWE creative not getting when their ideas suck/have been done to death/are not even funny anymore/were never even funny to begin with/or all of the above. Too bad, because that match certainly deserved a better finish.

Survivor Series Tag Teams Match – Team Raw (Enzo Amore and Big Cass, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, The Shining Stars, Cesaro and Sheamus, and New Day) defeated Team Smackdown (Slater and Rhyno, Hype Bros, American Alpha, The Usos and Tyler Breeze and Fandango) in 19:00 (Sheamus and Cesaro survived);

I must admit I’ve always had a soft spot for these multi-team tag team matches, dating back to those awesome 10 teams tag matches that opened up the first two Survivor Series. I can’t say this was quite that level but, it was the most enjoyable match on the card for me, thanks in no small part to that excellent finishing stretch involving the Uso’s and Sheamus and Cesaro. But I’m getting ahead of myself here. First of the quick elimination of the New Day and FaBreeze actually helped the match as having 21 guys around the ring for a long period of time might be a bit too much. Besides, I’m so over those New Day’s comedy routine that I can’t wait for them to lose their titles and for the division to move on. The Shining Stars and The Hype Bros were the next ones to go and did a good job of making up the numbers while they lasted. I feel like it’s the first time that Anderson and Gallows were allowed to look really threatening, even if it only lasted for a few minutes. I was also amused by how over Heath Slater was. Someone needs to explain to me why American Alpha are so under-utilized, the few times they got to shine, they set the place on far. As for Enzo and Cass, I don’t know, they have to be careful not to become like New Day and be all about that entrance. Or, perhaps, that’s all they ever were to begin with. And then we got to that finishing stretch and boy, the Uso’s and Sheamus and Cesaro did elevate that match to a whole new level. First of all, can’t say how much I enjoy seeing the Uso’s being re-vitalized like that. That heel turn may have been a bit overdue, but once they finally went for it, well, they went all out and it probably saved their career and reminded us all they can indeed have great matches, as opposed to the boring, predictable yawner they were getting known for. As for Sheamus and Cesaro, they have been THE pleasant surprise of these past few months. Basically it’s just the old “let’s trown these two together because we have no idea what to do with  them” routine, but their interactions have been very entertaining, they have good chemistry and even Sheamus has become more or less entertaining. That’s a minor miracle right there. I’m so hoping for a Sheamus and Cesaro win on RAW, just imagine how entertaining those two could be as champion. Match of the night.

WWE Cruiserweight Title Match – Kalisto defeated Champion Brian Kendrick in 13:04 via DQ:

I’ll get to the finish in a second, but first a question. here we have two guys, two talented guys, working their ass off to assemble a good match, and the crowd is barely reacting. Now, why is that Vince? And no, it’s not because they’re cruiserweights, but simply because you and your cronies can’t be arsed to promote and push them in a proper way. The maddening thing is they (WWE) ‘ve done all the right things during the CWC, but as soon as they came to RAW, it was like the reverse Midas touch and now, the cruiserweight are just a bunch of small(er) guys doing stuff in the ring. On top of that, the finish was something I’ve been expecting for some time, only I thought Strowman was gonna be the man who got to toss some cruiserweights around. There is still hope they’ve come up with some sort of story involving Kendrick and Corbin, I guess, but I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you. Chances are Corbin just did what he did for the hell of it and in the Land of the Giants, cruiserweights are only there to be tossed around anyway, right Vince?

Survivor Series Men’s Match – Team Smackdown (AJ Styles, Randy Orton, Dean Ambrose, Shane McMahon and Bray Wyatt)  defeated Team Raw (Kevin Owens, Chris Jericho, Braun Strowman, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins) in 53:30 (Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton survived):

To be honest, I have a difficult time rating this one. I mean the action was fine (mostly) and there were plenty of stuff in there to keep me entertained (mostly), but, I felt the match was overly long, that there were a bit too many spots involving wrestlers taking naps at ringside because of that and that, at times, they were trying to cram to many things in there. Also I’m really tired of watching Shane O’Mac trying to kill himself for glory, even more so since he does seem to have lost a step, or two… Or three. We also got a Shield reunion spot, but I’m waiting to see if this was just a thing so they could get their pop, or if it leads to something more interesting. Given the fact this was the only time Reigns didn’t get boo-ed, I would root for the latter, but, given this is WWE, chances are it will be the former and nothing really will come off it. Finally, since it’s been awhile, I have no real idea on how people have been reacting on the Randy Wyatt thing, but I kinda like it, if only because it allows Orton to do something different and not the same old, same old. OK he actually still does the same thing but it feels different because the circumstances are different. sometimes that’s all a wrestler needs. Also, it seems the addition of Orton will force the writers to actually do something with the Wyatts and that could be a good thing. In short, I could have done without Shane’s glory-seeking ways and I dread the day Strowman will be forced to work a 5+ minute match on his own, but there was also enough fun to make me keep watching for 53 minutes, so I guess that balance is positive in the end.

Goldberg defeated Brock Lesnar in 1:20 via pinfall:

I have to say this one makes me laugh, not in the least because there are already a lot of articles and columns about it on the internet. The big questions are what did they do, why did they do it and what does it mean? Well I’ll tell you what it means, this is Vince, Brock and Bill collectively raising their middle-fingers at wrestling in general and fans in particular. In other words, it doesn’t mean anything because it isn’t meant to mean anything wrestling-wise. This is about using Goldberg the superhero to sell more WWE 2k 17 games or whatever that things is called, this is about Lesnar collecting a huge paycheck without breaking a sweat and this is about Vince saying fuck you all and don’t forget to buy to game. Well, right back at you Vince.

And that’s it, not gonna waste any more words at that giant waste of time that was the last match on the card. And yes, I do refuse to call this a main event.

 

So, there you have it, WWE Survivor Series 2016. The good news is they do seem to have created enough material and further enough feuds to make the following RAW’s and Smackdown’s mildly interesting, but I can’t really call this a great show. The Survivor matches were mostly entertaining but the two title matches suffered form creative imbecility and you already  know what I think about the battle that lived only in fantasy.

As for me, still not sure when I’ll be back for good, but I’ll try to update you on all that has happened in NJPW soon. In the meantime, have fun!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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