11/22/15 – Andrew Berg – @WretleRosters
WWE Title Tournament
Roman Reigns def. Alberto Del Rio
Reigns started his night with a match that was easy to call but made him look good nonetheless. Del Rio targeted the shoulder that Reigns had injured in his quarterfinal match and it made it difficult for Reigns to get on track. When he finally put together some momentum, Del Rio ducked a Superman Punch and hit a backstabber for a near fall. He got Reigns hung up in the corner, but Reigns dodged the stomp and hit a Superman Punch. Reigns telegraphed his spear so Del Rio was able to block it with a superkick for a very close two count.
For the first time since his return to WWE, Del Rio teased a Cross-Armberaker. Reigns countered with a schoolboy into a sit-out powerbomb for two. Del Rio successfully locked in the Cross-Armbreaker on a second attempt and Reigns had to lift him out of the ring to force him to release. Del Rio came off the top rope as he reentered the ring and Reigns ducked. He turned on a dime and hit Del Rio with the spear to win.
The outcome of the match was too obvious for it to become a classic. Even so, Del Rio was more entertaining than he has been in the majority of his recent matches. The false finishes created some excitement in spite of the clear finish, which was a good way to get support behind Reigns going into the main event.
Dean Ambrose def. Kevin Owens
Following a backstage interview that seemingly foreshadowed an Ambrose turn through focus on his friendship with Reigns, he started his semifinal match very conventionally. Owens adjusted and quickly hit a cannonball to change momentum. He used a fireman’s carry neckbreaker for the first near fall of the match. He fought out of Ambrose’s attempt at Dirty Deeds and they traded shots in the center of the ring.
Owens hit a gutbuster to down Ambrose, but missed on the ensuing moonsault. Ambrose took advantage with an elbow drop for two. His run ended quickly when Owens blocked a superplex and hit a super fisherman-buster. Owens yelled at Ambrose to stay down and Ambrose answered with a stiff rebound clothesline and a suicide dive. Owens caught the second suicide dive and dumped Ambrose on the announce table.
Back in the ring, Ambrose ate a pair of superkicks but managed to counter a Pop-Up Powerbomb with a hurricanrana. He followed it with Dirty Deeds to get the pin. Ambrose has a history of wrestling his best matches on the biggest stage and he did it again here. I loved how he fought almost all of the match from the bottom with just enough rallies to keep up some hope. For his part, Owens looked good in defeat and has proven that he can bounce back from a loss.
Roman Reigns def. Dean Ambrose to Become WWE Champion
Even without many top stars, Survivor Series felt important by the time the main event started. Reigns and Ambrose set aside their friendship and got aggressive from the start. Ambrose hit a suicide dive and Reigns responded with a powerbomb out of the corner. Ambrose came off the top rope to try an elbow drop and Reigns met him with a Superman Punch.
Reigns blocked Dirty Deeds and hit a spear for a near fall. It is possibly the first time anyone has kicked out of a Reigns spear in WWE. Reigns tried another spear and hit the ring post. Ambrose followed it with Dirty Deeds for a two count. They slugged it out on the mat as they made it to their feat. Ambrose came running out of a corner straight into a second spear. Reigns got the pin and finally held the WWE Title high.
Sheamus def. Roman Reigns to Become WWE Champion
Reigns celebrated his win with a tearful embrace with Ambrose. Fireworks and confetti filled the arena. HHH came to the ring to congratulate him, but instead of shaking hands, Reigns hit HHH with a spear. As he celebrated, Sheamus appeared from behind and hit him with a Brogue Kick. He cashed in his Money in the Bank contract. Reigns kicked out of the first pin attempt, but Sheamus quickly hit him with a second Brogue Kick to win and stand tall with HHH.
While the natural gut reaction is to hate the idea of Sheamus as champion, I think there are a few things to like about this outcome. First, it upset the obvious script that many fans feared would make this show bland and unmemorable. Along those lines, it will generate dbate and discussion that simply would not have been there if Reigns walked out as champion. Most importantly, it makes Reigns a more sympathetic character. WWE has slowly rallied fans behind Reigns over a months-long chase. Being cheated here and facing someone as genuinely hateable as Sheamus will make him much more popular.
Undertaker and Kane def. The Wyatt Family
Of all the great Undertaker entrances through the years, this one ranks near the top of the list. Kane introduced him with a blaze of fire and a montage of Undertaker’s stages scrolled on the Titantron in a virtual casket. It set the stage for the match better than anything that has happened on Raw in the last month.
Erick Rowan ran into the ring before the bell and got a double chokeslam for his efforts. Bray Wyatt ordered Braun Strowman to stay outside and he teamed with Luke Harper in a surprise to start the match. Undertaker tagged in quickly and got a great pop when he delivered Old School to Harper.
Outside the ring, Strowman intervened and threw Kane over the announce table, but the referee allowed him to stay at ringside while Wyatt bludgeoned Kane. He brought Kane back in the ring and tried Sister Abigail, but Kane countered and hit a running DDT. Kane reached Undertaker for a hot tag. After he cleared out the ring, they went outside and teamed up to chokeslam Strowman through the Spanish announce table.
Undertaker came back in the ring and took Sister Abigail from Wyatt with the referee’s back turned. That might have ended the match except for a save from Kane. After the save, they hit tandem chokeslams and Undertaker finished the match with a Tombstone on Harper.
I expected Wyatt to somehow get a pin to set up a Wrestlemania rematch, but it’s possible that he will get his heat back in another way. Simply as a celebration of Undertaker’s career, this was a fun match. The fact that he can still wrestle solid matches 25 years into his run is incredible in its own right.
Charlotte def. Paige to Retain the Divas Title
Due to the personal nature of this rivalry, it was fitting that the match was a rough brawl from the opening bell. Paige answered everything in the first few moments until Charlotte locked her into an early Figure Four. Paige reached the ropes, but Charlotte held the hold while she slid to the floor. She lifted Paige outside and dropped her face-first on the apron.
The match stayed on the mat even as Paige took control with a body scissors. The action accelerated when they traded right hands. Charlotte followed with a spear and Natural Selection, but Paige rolled outside before Charlotte could cover. Paige put Charlotte down and climbed on the barricade to gloat. Charlotte joined her there and speared her to the floor. Charlotte brought her back into the ring and applied the Figure Eight, which eventually made Paige tap.
If this match had a story to tell, it was too complicated for me to follow. Perhaps it was an overcorrection to the negative reaction to the Reid Flair angle on Raw that made this match feel like it never reached the top gear. They can’t blame the placement on the card, either. After the popcorn elimination match, the crowd was primed for a more personal, emotional match. When you add it all up, it means that Charlotte still hasn’t had a signature match on the main roster to match her outstanding NXT resume.
Tyler Breeze def. Dolph Ziggler
Breeze used a variety of underhanded tactics to cut off Ziggler early in the match. He focused on Ziggler’s knee with a half crab. He used the ropes for leverage on a pin attempt that might have ended the match if the referee hadn’t caught him. They countered each other back and forth with pins and signature moves, which underscored their similarity. Breeze used a referee break to his advantage and hit Ziggler with an Unprettier for a surprisingly quick win. The match was good while it lasted, but there wasn’t enough of it to stand out. Then again, their rivalry is in its early stages and it makes sense for Breeze to establish himself with a win.
Ryback, The Usos, and Lucha Dragons def. New Day, King Barrett, and Sheamus
Ryback, Kalisto, and Jey Uso Survive
New Day added three new features for Survivor Series- the King of the Ring, Mr. Money in the Bank, and a James Brown-style bouffant atop the head of Xavier Woods. The Usos and the Dragons got the match off to a hot start with a quadruple plancha. Ryback climbed to the top rope and splashed the mess of wrestlers on the floor.
The theatrics from the New Day team turned against them when King Barrett got distracted and Sin Cara finished him off with a senton for the first elimination. Woods took out Jimmy Uso next and almost faced elimination himself by Kalisto shortly after. Big E speared Sin Cara to the floor and Sheamus Brogue Kicked him to put their team back in the lead.
Big E and Sheamus argued over who got to make the elimination. Meanwhile, Ryback and Jey Uso teamed up on him and pinned him after an Uso splash. Woods and Kofi Kingston came to his aid and helped him to the back to leave Sheamus alone against Kalisto, Jey, and Ryback. Sheamus fought valiantly, but the numerical advantage was too much and Ryback finished him with Shell-Shocked. The match was fine, but not exceptional. The bigger issue is that there was no reason for it to happen. It was wedged into the show to address the PPV’s name. The fact that WWE knew this show was coming and did nothing to prepare for it makes me think they should have simply skipped the elimination match.