On Sunday November 22nd at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia, the WWE featured their annual Survivor Series event. This year’s was quite special, as the publicity leading into the event was built around the 25 years of The Undertaker. This event also had a number of different moments and matches that stood out. Each moment or match that took place wasn’t always good, but it certainly left fans talking, and that is part of what made this event stand out. Unlike a typical review that will highlight who won and who lost, this article will approach the event in a number of different ways. It is less about whom won and lost, but rather what stood out and why. Unlike last months Hell in a Cell, Survivor Series has a great deal of history, and this year was no different.
Fans were treated to everything from traditional five on five Survivor Series matches to culminating feuds, a Survivor Series debut to an homage to a phenom, and the crowning of a new champion. While the event didn’t necessarily do great things, it unquestionably did change the direction for something hugely important, the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. It has put things in place for the future, with the next main event feud suggested at the end of the event. The hope is that fans are left wanting more. What follows are the 10 most significant moments from the WWE’s Survivor Series 2015.
10. A Traditional 5 on 5 Survivor Series Match During The Pre-Show
During the Survivor Series pre-show, the match that took place was a traditional five on five Survivor Series match, pitting Neville, The Dudley Boyz, Titus O’Neil and Goldust against Stardust, The Ascension, The Miz and Bo Dallas. While the advertising leading up to the event mentioned that a traditional five on five match would take place, it didn’t say who was involved, so there was no real build for it.
After dealing with some technical issues with the WWE Network, I was able to tune in and see Neville had already been eliminated. It’s a shame that someone of his talent is not only barely being used, but he was taken out of a match when the match had barely gotten started. The match also saw the return of Goldust, who hasn’t been around since being injured earlier in the year. What was strange was that Darren Young was not a participant in the match up; one would think that if Titus O’Neil was going to be a part of it, and tag teams were included in this event (like The Dudleyz and The Ascension) that both members of The Prime Time Players would have been involved. It left a lot to be desired as a match.
9. The Roman Empire And The United States Champion Kick Off Survivor Series With First Of Two Semi-Final Matches
While some may question the booking of having this match lead off the show, it really did make sense, in order to capture the audience’s attention right away. The winner of this semi-final match would go to the finals and the main event of the evening. To see Zeb Colter and Alberto Del Rio come out still seems like a bit of an odd pairing because of Colter’s previous animosity against Del Rio, and how his character has been pro-American, rather than being in favour of the multiculturalism that the country is built on.
The match saw Del Rio get the early advantage on Reigns, hitting him with a number of strikes and wearing down his bigger opponent. The match also saw Reigns use his strength to power out of scenarios such as a cross armbreaker. Reigns lifted Del Rio up and dropped him with a powerbomb, and in a similar spot carried him over the top rope, forcing him to break the hold. Reigns picked up the win after 13 minutes with a spear. He advanced to the finals of the WWE World Heavyweight championship tournament.
8. Ongoing Promotion Of The 25 Years of The Undertaker
The pre-show ended with a near six minutes build to the night’s Brothers of Destruction/Wyatt Family match-up, with the 25 years of The Undertaker being made a focal point. For young wrestling fans, their exposure to the Undertaker over the past few years had been very limited. However, many fans can recall all the way back November 1990 when Brother Love walked this dark and imposing figure from Death Valley down to the ring. The Undertaker has arguably the most impressive entrance in wrestling history, and has also managed to reinvent himself over the years.
The video homage was really well done, and showed The Undertaker’s evolution. There was also a sequence of consecutive tombstone piledrivers given over the years. It is remarkable how, despite slowing down and dealing with many injuries, he is just as admired as he was 25 years ago for his contribution to wrestling. Whether this will be the last evening we see The Undertaker compete or not remains to be seen. What is inarguable is that this video package, and the production that went into it, was an example of what The Undertaker deserves, which is to be respected.
7. The Lunatic Fringe And Kevin Owens Compete In Another Semi-Final Match
If the first semi-final match was what the establishment in WWE would consider a good match, this match was more in keeping with what the IWC consider entertaining. When we think for a minute about where Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens’ careers have taken them, to see both of them on the cusp of winning the WWE World Heavyweight title is pretty exciting.
Both Owens and Ambrose cut their teeth on the independent circuit, working their way up in order to get a shot with the WWE. In fact, Owens and Ambrose recently were on an episode of the WWE’s Network series Table of 3 titled “Brass Ring.” To see them both ironically reaching for that “brass ring” is what many fans eagerly clamour for. It has been a long road for both men, and those who believe they were overnight sensations would be surprised to find out that they have dedicated to least a decade to developing their craft.
The match went about eleven minutes in total. With Ambrose coming out victorious, it set up an Ambrose/Reigns final for the title. It was a final many either wanted to see, or easily predicted when the two men were put in opposing brackets at the start of the tournament.
6. The “Where Did This Traditional Survivor Series Match Come From?” or Thank you Xavier Woods For Your Hair!
Like the pre-show match-up, this traditional five-on-five match came out of left field. While it had its roots in a six-man tag match on Raw that featured The New Day against Ryback and the Lucha Dragons, it still had at best a last minute build to it, if we can even call it that. In what seemed like a mishmash of talent, it put The New Day with King Barrett and Sheamus against Ryback, The Usos and the Lucha Dragons. So, they put The Usos and the Lucha Dragons together to make up 4/5ths of their team. Is the idea to give fans the impression that The Usos are now in contention for the WWE Tag team titles, so they were included? How about the Lucha Dragons? Where do they realistically fit in all of this?
With all these questions looming, the New Day got everyone to forget them by once again doing something comical that gets people talking. Xavier Woods channelled his inner James Brown by wearing a hairdo reminiscent of the late singer. The match resulted in a win by team Ry-Uso-Dragon, when Sheamus was beaten after the rest of his team abandoned him.
5. Conclusion to the Paige/Charlotte feud For The Divas Championship?
It’s been a whirlwind of a week for number one contender Paige and current WWE Divas champion Charlotte. There was a war of words between Paige and other WWE performers on Twitter, and Charlotte and Ric Flair had to come to grips with this past Monday’s poorly handled segment between the two female competitors. The war of words between the two escalated quickly, and leading into the match, Michael Cole stated that Paige’s comments were “hard-hitting,” which is an understatement! The segment I am referring to was from last Monday, when Paige stated that Charlotte’s late brother Reid. For those unaware, Reid passed away from a reported drug overdose. The comments cut deep, so to have this feud go any farther was actually not a good idea. And, this match may in fact be the blow off that this feud needed.
The match really wasn’t as good as it should have been. The match was more character driven, rather than about a series of moves. At one point in the match, it appeared as though both women were winded with not much to show for it. The most noteworthy moment of the encounter was a spear by Charlotte on Paige while standing on the barricade.
4. Tyler Breeze Made His Survivor Series Debut Against Dolph “Motley Crue” Ziggler
This was a match that one had expected to be quite good, anticipating a number of near falls because both men can put on a really entertaining match involving a number of holds, counters and pinfall attempts. Anyone that has seen Breeze’s work in NXT knows that he is capable of putting on highly competitive and entertaining matches. Whether competing for the NXT title, or in his feud with Hideo Itami, Breeze is a great talent that is more than just his supermodel gimmick.
What we see in Breeze now is what we saw in Ziggler years ago, with the brash attitude and belief that he is better than anyone else; we could argue that Ziggler was wrestling himself. The problem was there was more emphasis on making Breeze look great rather than making both men look amazing. The match finished with Breeze using a familiar finisher, but one we haven’t seen him use before: a move made famous by Christian, aptly titled the Unprettier, led to the end of the match. For a match that could have been more, it certainly didn’t impress.
3. The Brothers of Destruction And The Wyatt Family Go Head to Head
The whole night was leading up to this match. In fact, the whole month that preceded Survivor Series was leading up to this match up. There has been a great deal of publicity for this one. The Undertaker showing up on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Undertaker Week on the WWE Network, commercials showcasing the match. There was a great deal of hype behind this match.
The Wyatt family were the first to enter the ring; after their arrival, Kane made a separate entrance to the ring, to the signature sound of torches going off followed. As Kane approached the ring, he raised his arms and then emphatically dropped them, signalling two Undertaker symbols to ignite. The visual itself was remarkable, as it kicked off Undertaker’s walk to the ring. The match itself began with Eric Rowan wanting desperately to do away with the Brothers of Destruction, but as soon as he charged Kane and The Undertaker hits him with a double chokeslam.
The match eventually settled on Luke Harper and Bray Wyatt against Kane and The Undertaker. The most notable moment of the match was Kane and The Undertaker double chokeslaming Braun Strowman through the Spanish announcers’ table. The Undertaker eventually hit the tombstone pile driver on Luke Harper for the win.
2. Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns Compete In The Finals To Determine The New WWE World Heavyweight Champion
What was called “brother versus brother” pitted Dean Ambrose against Roman Reigns in the final for the WWE World Heavyweight title tournament. Both men went at each other repeatedly. If there was any thought that either man would hold back because of a fear of hurting the other one’s feelings, it certainly wasn’t evident here. Ambrose hit Reigns with everything he had throughout the match. The same could be said for Reigns, who hit Ambrose with superman punches and a spear only to have The Lunatic Fringe kick out.
One of the things fans had talked about prior to this match was the potential that either Ambrose or Reigns would do whatever it took to get the better of the other, even if that meant compromising their friendship. But that did not transpire; as the match drew to a close, it resembled two brothers punching and pushing each other. The culmination of Reigns’ journey was complete; he had defeated his best friend to capture the WWE World Heavyweight championship. The match didn’t have the numerous high spots that one would think a match that meant so much would have. There wasn’t much risk, as both men put on a solid match, but a fairly safe one as well.
1. Roman Reigns Wins the WWE World Heavyweight Title Only To Lose It To Sheamus Moments Later
It was an incredible moment. As Reigns stood in the middle of the ring, confetti was released from the rafters, filling the arena. The conquering hero, Roman Reigns, had finally captured the WWE World Heavyweight title. After a few moments of Reigns soaking up the moment, Triple H’s music hit and he came to the ring to congratulate the new champion. Triple H extended his hand to Reigns to congratulate him on becoming the new champion, but Reigns hesitated and took a few steps back. He looked at the title and then charged at Triple H, hitting him with an emphatic spear.
As the fans cheered, sneaking up from behind came Sheamus, who hit Reigns with a brogue kick. And then officially, Sheamus cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase for an immediate title match. After Reigns kicked out from one brogue kick, he stood up and attempted to hit Sheamus with a spear, but he was caught with a second brogue kick, and this time he didn’t kick out; the referee counted Reigns’ shoulders to the mat for a count of three. Sheamus is now the new WWE World Heavyweight champion. This wasn’t the first time an unexpected cash-in has happened, but it was the most noteworthy moment on the evening.