Saturday, November 11, 2017

The History of WWE Survivor Series, part 7 (2005-2007)

Rather a mixed bag from '05-'07.....



Survivor Series 2005 - Joe Louis Arena - 11/27/05

This right here is a pretty damn good show.  Shockingly, for the second consecutive year the Survivor Series main event was a traditional elimination match.  While it was built around a completely phony "brand loyalty" premise, it was nice to see a melee between two superteams serve as the top-billed match at this event.

The card opened with a WCW retread - Chris Benoit vs. Booker T in a Best-of-Seven Series match for the US Title.  Their chemistry in 2005 was nowhere near on the level of their 1998 work, but this was still a fine way to open the show.  As with SummerSlam, Benoit went from headlining this PPV in 2004 to curtain-jerking in 2005.

Trish Stratus then took on Melina for the Women's Title in a pretty solid little match.  Trish was usually awesome, and Melina's absurd flexibility always made for some memorable spots.  Not bad.

Third up was a match I wasn't expecting to enjoy at all - Triple H vs. Ric Flair in a Last Man Standing match.  This feud started that October on the "USA Homecoming" episode of RAW, when Triple H turned on Flair for basically no reason.  Seriously, the feud was based on the thinnest of motivations.  Hunter said he realized Flair was no longer a legend and had to be stopped.  Really guys?  That's all you have?  Anyway, this match was definitely longer than it should've been, but still an exceptional, violent brawl with all kindsa flowing crimson.

"You must be stopped, ex-legend!"

The WWE Title match was next as first-time Champion John Cena defended against Kurt Angle.  This was sadly nowhere near their Unforgiven match two months prior, and due in part to special referee Shawn Daivari's biased officiating it devolved into a rather gimmicky affair.  The brief 13-minute running time didn't help either.

In the death spot was the one truly bad match of the night, as RAW GM Eric Bischoff faced Smackdown GM Teddy Long.  The whole RAW vs. Smackdown feud was so utterly forced and devoid of any genuine heat.  Did anyone in the audience truly believe any of these guys was loyal to their own brand, especially when they held Draft Lotteries almost every year to shuffle the roster around?  Idiotic.  Anyway, this was what you'd expect from two non-wrestlers.



The main event featured the Smackdown team of World Champ Batista, Randy Orton, Rey Mysterio, Bobby Lashley and JBL vs. the RAW team of Shawn Michaels, Big Show, Kane, Carlito and Chris Masters.  Again, are we supposed to think Batista and JBL who just feuded all summer are suddenly allies simply because they're on the same show?  But the match was quite good, featured splendid action and drama, and in an echo of the 2003 Survivor Series match, boiled down to HBK vs. Orton and two partners, in this case JBL and Mysterio.  Unfortunately the 3-on-1 drama was diffused after one minute when Shawn superkicked and eliminated JBL and Rey.  Just like in 2003, Orton was able to outlast Shawn to win the whole match, making this the third consecutive year Orton was the sole survivor.  After the match The Undertaker returned to resume his feud with Randall, which would lead to a Hell in a Cell match the following month.

Babyfaces and heels united to stop those evil bastards on the other show!

The 2005 Survivor Series was a solid outing.  While I didn't care much about any of the featured feuds, at least the card itself was well-executed.  As a standalone show this was one of the strongest editions in several years.

Best Match: RAW vs. Smackdown Elimination Match
Worst Match: Eric Bischoff vs. Teddy Long
What I'd Change: I'd have left the GM match off the show because, who cares?  Cena vs. Angle could've gone longer as well.
Most Disappointing Match: John Cena vs. Kurt Angle
Most Pleasant Surprise: Triple H vs. Ric Flair - both this and their previous cage match at Taboo Tuesday were far better than they had any right to be, given the big fat Nothing their feud was about.
Overall Rating: 7/10
Better than WrestleMania 21 and/or SummerSlam '05? - No, but yes.





Survivor Series 2006 - Wachovia Center - 11/26/06

What a depressing show this was.  Survivor Series 2006 was a nice little cross-section of how uninspired and defiantly unsatisfying the WWE product was that year.  Looking over this card there were several potentially good matches, but sadly not one of them broke out of the two-star range.  WWE at this point was pushing who they wanted to push and more or less ignoring everyone else, regardless of how over they were (see Punk, CM).  Basically every match on this card felt like the whole crew was going through the motions and didn't want to be there.  Soooo, let's get started analyzing this bore of a show.

The opening match saw the already dead and buried Spirit Squad (featuring the future Dolph Ziggler) against four Legends with a combined age of roughly 240 - Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, Ron Simmons and Sgt. Slaughter.  As with any nostalgia vs. youth match the Legends team won (Flair singlehandedly eliminated three of the Squad members to become the sole survivor), thus ensuring no long-term benefit from the match whatsoever.  This stunk.

Next was the US Title match between Chavo Guerrero and Chris Benoit.  This was fine but wouldn't remotely make either guy's highlight reel.

The third match was Lita's retirement bout against Mickie James for the Women's Title.  Of all the matches on this PPV this was probably the only one with any urgency or motivation from its participants.  Lita clearly wanted to go out with a bang, and both women delivered.

Up fourth was an elimination match that should've been epic given the talent involved.  Triple H, Shawn Michaels, CM Punk and the Hardy Boyz faced Randy Orton, Edge, Johnny Nitro, Gregory Helms, and Mike Knox.  Hmmm, which of these ten dudes doesn't belong?  Could it be the guy who was eliminated 40 seconds into the match?  Yup, WWE once again decided to essentially pull a bait-and-switch by knocking someone out of the match right at the outset.  I love when that happens.  Anywho, what should've been a 20-plus-minute war became an eleven-minute clean-sweep, as the heels were made to look totally ineffectual and incompetent.  And yet the DX-Rated RKO feud continued for two months after this match, even though Edge and Orton got their asses handed to them in decisive fashion here.

Next up is an elimination match featuring DX! The Hardyz! CM Punk!
.............oh, and five other guys.

Next was the Undertaker facing one of WWE's all-time disappointments, Mr. Kennedy, in a First Blood match.  I honestly never got what the big deal was with Kennedy.  He was a good talker with very limited in-ring skills and a look that screamed "midcarder."  Even his back tattoo looked bush league.  Kennedy won here thanks to interference by MVP, and then Taker beat the everlovin' shit out of him to ensure his heat was instantaneously diffused.

The final elimination match pitted John Cena, Bobby Lashley, Kane, Rob Van Dam and Sabu against Big Show, Test, MVP, Finlay and Umaga.  For the second time ON THIS SHOW one of the heels was eliminated immediately, as Umaga got DQd for hitting RVD with a TV monitor.  Did the writers for each match not consult each other to ensure they weren't duplicating efforts?  From there the match was a flurry of overly quick eliminations, with five men getting taken out in the span of two minutes.  Cena and Lashley prevailed at 12:35, making this the longest elimination match of the night (eight minutes shorter than the shortest match at the inaugural Series PPV).  As an aside, The Big Show looked absolutely terrible in 2006.  He was easily a hundred pounds heavier than he is currently, and seemed exhausted just being conscious and upright.  It's easy to see why he took a year off shortly after this.  Test also looked overly inflated from whatever performance-enhancers he was using, like someone inserted balloons under his skin and blew them up.

Dave?  Dave!  DAVE!  Wake up!

The main event was World Champion Booker T vs. Batista, in another dull, plodding affair from these two.  As with the 2006 SummerSlam, there was virtually no chemistry here and the match felt like it was happening just because they needed a main event.  Couple that with Batista's horribly unheroic win after a belt shot, and this was one of the weakest PPV main events I can remember.

The 2006 edition of the show played out like we all only had a little bit of time to watch each match.  Everything was rushed and awkward, and somehow despite only seven matches on the card not one of them exceeded 14 minutes.  Other than the female wrestlers no one seemed to give much of a shit about actually entertaining people, and the result is a real downer of a PPV that advanced very little.  Also only one match was won by a heel, and that was due to a backfired run-in, and followed by an epic post-match mauling by the babyface.  I've said this before, but if the babyfaces are never in peril, where's the conflict?  This show just sucked all kinds of ass.  All kinds.

Best Match: Lita vs. Mickie James - Yes, an 8-minute women's match was better than anything else on this stinker.
Worst Match: Team Flair vs. Spirit Squad - Please tell me why anyone would pay to see four 60-year-olds beat up a group of promising young wrestlers.  What is gained by this in the long run?
What I'd Change: Cut the opening old-timers match, make the DX-RKO match 25 minutes and have Orton and Edge win the whole thing so they seem like a threat, and generally present a PPV where the talent seems to actually enjoy their job.
Most Disappointing Match: Team DX vs. Team Rated RKO
Most Pleasant Surprise: Lita vs. Mickie
Overall Rating: 1.5/10
Better than WrestleMania 22 and/or SummerSlam '06? - No on both.  Astounding considering how bad SummerSlam '06 was.





Survivor Series 2007 - American Airlines Arena - 11/18/07

Things got somewhat back on track in late 2007, as WWE rediscovered consistently watchable PPVs.  That year's edition of No Mercy and Survivor Series began a string of solid shows.  While Series wasn't exactly a throwback to the gimmick's glory days, it was still a strong PPV with two excellent main events.

The show kicked off in style as CM Punk defended the ECW Title against John Morrison and The Miz in a brief but exciting Triple Threat match.  For a little while the company was finally starting to get behind Punk as a rising babyface star (partly out of necessity due to JoMo being suspended for PEDs).

Next was a rather pointless inclusion, a one-fall ten-Divas tag team match.  It was forgettable but inoffensive.

Another free-TV quality match followed as Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch successfully defended the World Tag straps against Bob Holly and Cody Rhodes.  Holly and Rhodes became a team in the logical fashion: they wrestled each other several times with Holly repeatedly beating the piss out of Rhodes until he "learned respect."  This was a terrible angle and a perplexing way to create a babyface duo.  The match here was fine but far from noteworthy.

Things really picked up however with the lone traditional Survivor Series match, as Triple H, Jeff Hardy, Rey Mysterio and Kane (Matt Hardy was supposed to be on the team but was kayfabe injured - yet another instance of an elimination match missing a participant right from the start.  Christ!) took on Umaga, Mr. Kennedy, MVP, Finlay and Big Daddy V.  Not much of a heel team there, but the match was decent and was actually given ample time for a change.  Triple H and Jeff Hardy were the survivors in this somewhat pedestrian but entertaining match.

It wouldn't be a Survivor Series card without an inclusion that made me wanna slit my wrists, so WWE added The Great Khali vs. Hornswaggle.  This is yet another example of a match that clearly didn't garner a single PPV buy, and I defy WWE to prove otherwise.  Vince and Shane were in Hornswaggle's corner, so obviously this was meant for an audience of one.  It's stuff like this that makes one question Vince's sanity and taste in entertainment.

It's a Sharpshooter.  Ring the bell.  RING THE F*CKING BELL!!

Up until this point Survivor Series 2007 was in danger of being just as sucky as the 2006 edition, but fortunately the double main event saved it.  Randy Orton defended the WWE Title against Shawn Michaels, with the stipulations that Orton could lose the belt on a DQ and that Shawn was banned from using the superkick.  These stips made for some nice psychology and forced Shawn to get a little creative with his offense (in an odd twist Shawn broke out the Crippler Crossface, only five months after the Chris Benoit murder-suicide).  This was a helluva good Title match.

The main event was the blowoff to the excellent Undertaker-Batista feud of 2007, inside Hell in a Cell.  These two had amazing chemistry and turned in a handful of show-stealing matches that year.  I consider 2007 to be when Taker rediscovered his considerable in-ring ability, and also the year Batista came into his own as a worker.  After twenty-plus minutes of back-and-forth action, the returning Edge interfered, disguised as a ringside cameraman, and cost Taker the bout.  While run-in endings usually detract from big matches, in this case Edge's meddling made sense and kicked off a great feud that lasted through most of 2008.

Ka-Boom!

Survivor Series 2007 was far from a perfect show, but it was light years better than the previous installment and featured two killer main events.  The ensuing calendar year would see several strong PPV offerings and a somewhat refocused WWE product. 

Best Match: Randy Orton vs. Shawn Michaels
Worst Match: The Great Khali vs. Hornswaggle
What I'd Change: Cut the Khali-Hornswaggle shit, obviously.  And where was Shelton Benjamin??
Most Disappointing Match: Probably the elimination bout.  It was decent but not great.
Most Pleasant Surprise: I guess the return of Edge, as I knew it meant an extended Taker-Edge feud.
Overall Rating: 7/10
Better than WrestleMania 23 and/or SummerSlam '07? - No, and yes.


Part 6                                                                                                                                                Part 8


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