WWE: Survivor Series 2011, the twenty-fifth anniversary installment,
could so easily have been a middling affair, but instead proves a vital step on
the road to Wrestlemania XXVIII, featuring, as it does, the return of The
Rock after seven years.
• Dolph Ziggler vs. John Morrison for the WWE United States
Morrison's final PPV match for the WWE (for now at least)
doesn't really show off his abilities, and is peppered with chants from the
crowd for Internet favorite Zak Ryder. That aside, this actually acts as a
perfectly entertaining opening matchup, with Ziggler putting in a solid effort
in the first of his two appearances of the night. Despite a slow start the match
really starts to build some momentum, resulting in an explosive finale.
• Eve Torres vs. Beth Phoenix in a Lumberjill Match for the WWE
Something was off about this match from the start,
though it took me a moment to put my finger on it. Then it hit me: apart from
the voices of the commentary team, there is barely a sound in the auditorium as
the crowd apparently finds other things to keep them entertained. With the
exception of Beth Phoenix, the standard in the WWE Diva's division is shocking,
and this match for the Divas championship lacks the basics of a good wrestling
match, and has no flow whatsoever. Just awful. The talented Beth Phoenix
Thankfully, Survivor Series 2011 has someone in the wings who,
singlehandedly, and without the need to even enter the ring, brings this PPV
back to life. The Rock delivers a promo that brings the crowd to their feet. It
is a promo that somehow encapsulates the entire history of Dwayne Johnson's
wrestling career (recalling both his grandfather and father's careers), and
still finds time to be very funny and even slip in a good old singsong.
• Team Barrett: Wade Barrett, Cody Rhodes, Jack Swagger, Hunico,
and Dolph Ziggler vs. Team Orton: Randy Orton, Sheamus, Mason Ryan, Kofi
Kingston, and Sin Cara in the Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Tag Team
This match just kept building and building, and following two early
eliminations, really delivers. As you would hope, this match makes the best of
the mix of styles on offer, and proves both fast and brutal. Taking the match by
the scruff of the neck, and really standing out, is Cody Rhodes. Rhodes is
calculated, cunning, and not just a little narcissistic; three traits that make
for a top-drawer wrestler who gets a great reaction from the crowd.
• Big Show vs. Mark Henry for the World Heavyweight
Perhaps it's just me, but I always feel these two colossi
work better when facing smaller opponents. Competing against each other, the
lack of agility and speed possessed by both men means their matchups are
sluggish, whilst their undeniable shows of strength seem (understandably) less
impressive. Too much time is spent in this match with both men writhing on the
floor, and the match only really comes to life sporadically when either athlete
delivers their signature moves. Still, when Big Show delivers an elbow drop from
the top rope, it's hard not to be impressed (and not just a little touched by
the "Randy Savage!" chant that follows from the crowd).
• Alberto Del Rio vs. CM Punk in a match for the WWE
Entering the ring with his own personal ring
announcer—Howard Finkel no less—CM Punk receives a huge pop from the
crowd. Both men play their part in delivering a fast paced match that ebbs and
flows like all good championship bouts should. It's taken some time, but I'm
finally warming to Del Rio, as he begins to prove himself as a fine heel and a
decent technical wrestler to boot. CM Punk continues to be the most exciting
wrestler out of the current crop of athletes, and truly understands what it
takes to be a main eventer.
• The Rock and John Cena vs. Awesome Truth (The Miz and R-Truth)
in a Tag Team Match.
Even the heel team of Miz and R-Truth combined fail
to receive as many boos as John Cena does on his entrance into the ring. To be
fair to Cena, he takes it like a man and gets down to business—but let's
be honest: this match is all about the return of The Rock. Despite seven years
away, The Rock looks in prime condition, and proves he's not lost it. The man
does not miss a beat. Apologies if I'm gushing, but The Rock is the archetypal
pro wrestler, and his performance here (which, I might add, sees him start the
match) is, as "The Great One" might say himself, electrifying. The fan
reaction to The Rock really lifts this main event, though he does earn a few
boos when he reluctantly tags in Cena. As for the match itself, it proves worthy
of headlining this PPV, as The Miz and R-Truth do well to not be totally
overshadowed by the return of the Brahma Bull.
As always, the 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer, taken from the WWEHD broadcast,
is excellent, as is the Dolby 5.1 soundtrack. The sole special feature is a
short post match interview with CM Punk.
While not the best WWE PPV of the year, WWE: Survivor Series 2011 is
in truth an uneven, but still entertaining, event that struggles to maintain its
momentum until the final two matches. However, the return of The Rock, after so
long, is more than enough to ensure wrestling fans are left with huge grins on