Friday, November 29, 2019

The History of NWA/WCW Starrcade (1987)

I know most people don't think this show has aged well, but I still love Starrcade '87....

Starrcade '87 - UIC Pavilion - 11.26.87

The 1987 edition was the first-ever PPV broadcast by Jim Crockett Promotions.  Crockett was expanding rapidly with designs on competing with the WWF, and moved into the non-traditional locale of Chicago for his flagship show.  Unfortunately Vince McMahon had designs on squashing the NWA's PPV hopes and ran the inaugural Survivor Series against it.  Not only that but he issued an ultimatum to the cable companies: Run Starrcade and you can't have WrestleMania IV.  The ploy worked, and only a handful of cable providers kept Starrcade, which meant it got destroyed by Survivor Series (which to be fair was an awesome PPV).

Starrcade '87 holds a special place for me, as it was the first one I ever watched all the way through.  I mail-ordered the VHS tape in 1988 after reading glowing reviews in Wrestling's Main Event magazine, and upon viewing it for the first time I was blown away.  The action was athletic, physical and intense, and at the time I loved that the NWA did so many gimmick matches (When you're 12 years old nothing is as cool as a Steel Cage match, except maybe a Scaffold Match).  Amazingly this show ran under 2.5 hours but it doesn't at all feel incomplete.

SC'87 was built around Ric Flair's quest to regain the NWA Title.  The Board of Directors wanted Flair to drop the belt to someone a few months earlier and win it back at Starrcade, I guess hoping to recreate the magic of SC'83.  The problem was, no one wanted to be a two-month lame duck Champion, and the only babyface who agreed to it was perennial midcarder Ronnie Garvin (who was a fine worker but no credible World Champion).  Garvin won the Title in a cage match that September and then announced he wouldn't be defending it until Starrcade.  Not much of a story for a PPV main event, but the match itself was pretty goddamn good.  Flair and Garvin beat the bejeezus out of each other, engaging in a war of chops and Figure Fours, and frequently using the cage as a weapon.  After 17 minutes Flair caught Garvin off the ropes and hotshotted him into the cage (in one of the least painful looking spots ever), and cradled him for the win and his fifth NWA Title.  Lame ending aside this was a pretty great match.

Garvin slaps on the Figure Four

The rest of the show was nothing to sneeze at either.

Three of the undercard bouts involved recently-acquired UWF talent, as Crockett had bought the former Mid-South territory from Bill Watts and staged a UWF Invasion.  Unfortunately he botched it completely by presenting most of the UWF wrestlers as far beneath his homegrown stars (a mistake Vince would repeat 14 years later after buying out WCW).

Still the invasion yielded some decent stuff on this show, starting with a pretty fun six-man opener pitting Larry Zbyzsko, Eddie Gilbert and Rick Steiner against Michael Hayes, Jimmy Garvin, and a young facepainted powerhouse named Sting.  This was nothing amazing but it was a nice way to warm up the crowd, and Sting was already hugely over.  The match inexplicably ended in a draw; Sting really should've pinned one of the heels given how quickly they pushed him.

Second was the only bad match on the show, as UWF Champion Steve Williams defended against Barry Windham.  On paper this sounds fantastic, but when they're only given six minutes and the match ends with a cradle out of nowhere, you can't expect much.  Since the show ran so short this should've gotten at least five more minutes.

The show got a huge boost in the third spot, as the Skywalkers gimmick match was brought out again.  This time though The Midnight Express would face their greatest rivals, The Rock n' Roll Express.  The scaffold match is one of those gimmicks that sounds cool but is very difficult to execute well, given how dangerous it is.  Fortunately the Midnights and RnR delivered an entertaining little fight twenty feet above the ring.  As a kid I thought this match was all kinds of awesome, and it was actually much better than the previous Skywalkers Match.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

The History of NWA/WCW Starrcade (1986)

Starrcade took to the sky in 1986.....

Starrcade '86 - Greensboro Coliseum/The Omni -
11.27.86

Starrcade '86 was the first one I was aware of as a wrestling fan.  On Saturday mornings I'd watch World Wide Wrestling and see ads for the VHS release.  I must say those commercials were GOLD.  Whoever put those together had me at "hello."  When I used to watch those Turner Home Entertainment tapes I looked forward to the previews as much as the event itself.

The 1986 edition suffered greatly from its main event plans being derailed only a month out.  Jim Crockett Promotions had intended a major World Title push for Magnum TA, which would've kicked off at Starrcade with a huge win over Ric Flair.  Who knows what would've happened, had that come to fruition.  Magnum was enormously popular, built like a brick shithouse, and had rugged good looks that appealed to a crossover audience.  The NWA could've had another Hulk Hogan on their hands, and may very well have been able to compete with Vince.  But unfortunately it was not to be, as Magnum suffered a career-ending car crash in October, and the promotion had to scramble to put together a new main event for its biggest show of the year.  The bookers cleverly turned Nikita Koloff babyface by having him show compassion and remorse over his longtime enemy's injury.  I like that choice a lot actually.  Thus Nikita took Magnum's place in the main event and became one of the NWA's top faces for the next two years.

The company also put the spotlight on one of the secondary main events, even naming the show after it.  Starrcade '86 was the television debut of the Scaffold Match - a horribly dangerous gimmick bout where the combatants are forced to fight twenty feet above the ring on a three-foot-wide platform.  They renamed it The Skywalkers Match (I wonder if George Lucas ever considered suing) and it took on a pretty mythic quality.  But before we get to the top-billed matches, let's take a look at the rest of the show.  For the second consecutive year Starrcade emanated from both The Omni and the Greensboro Coliseum.

Starrcade '86 opened with Tim Horner & Nelson Royal vs. Don & Rocky Kernodle, which sounds pretty nondescript on paper but featured surprisingly good action and a fast pace.

Next was Jimmy Garvin vs. Brad Armstrong in a very strong undercard bout.  These two had good chemistry and worked hard.  Brad Armstrong was a pretty underrated talent, always good for a solid opening match to rev up the crowd.  This went to a time limit draw which was probably a mistake given its spot on the card.  A blazing ten minute match with a decisive finish would've been more appropriate.  Still, this was good stuff.

The next two matches were throwaway tag bouts - Hector Guerrero & Baron von Raschke vs. Barbarian & Shaska Watley; and Ivan Koloff & Krusher Kruschev vs. The Kansas Jayhawks.  Both were quite forgettable and about the only intrigue came later during the evil Russians' promo on their former friend Nikita.  One thing that I found disturbing was the sound of the live crowd cheering when von Raschke did his goosestep bit.  That's not something a sane person would cheer.

The first of many gimmick matches was next, as Wahoo McDaniel faced Rick Rude in an Indian Strap Match.  While the concept of two enemies bound together is always intriguing, I hate the "touch all four corners" rule.  I find it silly and cumbersome and it really disrupts the flow of the match.  As expected this was mediocre, and I found it strange that both guys were bleeding from a piece of leather.  This would also be the first of many blood-soaked bouts on this card.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

The Worst Thanksgiving EVER

Since Turkey Day is upon us, my associate Dan Moore and I would like to share with you our worst Thanksgiving memories.  Enjoy, if you can.....


Dan's Worst Thanksgiving

Gather 'round children, as I tell you a tale conjured from the combined nightmares of Jason Voorhees, The Babadook and Khloe Kardashian. At a Thanksgiving feast a few years ago, my family trekked to Auntie Patty and Uncle Benny’s house. Uncle Benny was the best cook in the family, and also a true vulgarian, so it was always a blast to eat some bird and listen to him say outrageous things to the old ladies in attendance. A marvelous human being.

A typical Thanksgiving scene welcomed me with open arms as I walked into my aunt’s house. There was bread being baked, glass cornucopias filled with fake fruits, and a banquet table with a giant, steroid-filled turkey and all the fixings. Stuffing, squash (the baby puke of sides), corn, cranberry sauce (the Jell-O from hell) and that’s it. WAIT. WHAT? In one of the most preposterous moves in the history of gluttony, Uncle Benny decided that year NOT to make mashed potatoes. Seriously. Just gone. The fucking glue of the Thanksgiving meal was cast aside like a late hobo at the soup kitchen.


It was, to put it mildly, disappointing. There were many tears shed that day at the lack of the beautiful mound of swirly goodness. We should’ve been laying our heads on the opaque pile of buttery flavor. Instead, we were pelted in the head with starchy, overcooked rocks.  He decided on roasted potatoes that year. ROASTED. The red-headed stepchild of the potato family. Motherfucker coulda thrown French fries my way and I woulda been happier. At least with the abundance of gravy about, I coulda made some poutine. It’s still brought up to this day in our family, and I for one will never forget that blackest of holidays.  It was a truly brutal nut punch. That’s the worst kind of punch. Right on the nut.

The only way that Thanksgiving could’ve been worse:





Justin's Worst Thanksgiving

I got that beat.  I got that beat.

In the late 90s I joined my parents for Thanksgiving at their friends' house.  It was a large gathering, with kids and grandkids running around, making so much noise I couldn't hear myself fantasizing about Steve Austin fighting Bill Goldberg (Listen, you fantasize about what you want to and I'll fantasize about what I want to.  Assholes....).  We proceeded to gather around the two adjacent tables (since there isn't a dining table in the free world big enough to accommodate this bloated roster), and after piling roughly 64 pounds of Thanksgiving accoutrements onto my structurally stressed plate, I discovered to my horror that my hosts did not provide gravy.

I'd like to repeat that last part: DID NOT PROVIDE GRAVY.


What kind of Communist jamboree had I been dragged to where I'm expected to eat white-meat turkey (typically the dryest of meats) without drizzling a gushing torrent of scrumptious, buttery, brown fat all over my plate?  This was intolerable.  What's for dessert, a bucket of sand?  Sawdust in a bag? A tablespoon of Nestle Quik?  Now I know what Hell looks like.

No thank you, kind sir and madam.  Good day to you!


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The History of NWA/WCW Starrcade (1985)

Starrcade bounced back in 1985 with a now pretty legendary lineup....

Starrcade '85 - Greensboro Coliseum/The Omni - 11.28.85

Now this was more like it.  Starrcade '85 was broadcast from two venues again, but this time there were really only ten matches, thus the important bouts all felt long enough.  While not at the level of Starrcade '83, this edition had a handful of memorable bouts, one of which is still considered an all-time classic battle.

For this show Tony Schiavone replaced Gordon Solie on commentary, and right away I noticed two things: #1 Schiavone and Bob Caudle didn't talk much during the matches; there were long stretches of action with no commentary at all.  #2 Schiavone was asked to plug the upcoming Bunkhouse Stampede event (and others) way too many times, during actual matches.  This distractive shilling should've happened in between bouts.

The show opener was Krusher Kruschev vs. Sam Houston.  This was a decent little match, with a good speed vs. power dynamic.  Houston looked good and reminded me of early Shawn Michaels.  Kruschev won after escaping Houston's bulldog with a foot on the ropes and then hitting Houston with the Russian Sickle, after which the referee missed Houston's foot on the rope.

Next was Manny Fernandez vs. Abdullah the Butcher in a Sombrero on a Pole match.  What a ridiculous gimmick; what'd Vince Russo book this?  This was just ok - both guys bled within the first couple minutes, which became a pattern on this show.  That struck me as diffusing the tension very quickly.  After missing a top-rope headbutt Manny then just leapfrogged over Abdullah and climbed the ropes to get the hat, which was a strange ending.

What followed were two 2-part matches in a row.  The first was Black Bart vs. Ron Bass in a Bullrope match where if Bass won he got five minutes with JJ Dillon.  Storyline-wise this was awfully similar to the previous year's Bass vs. Dick Slater match, with two former partners fighting.  Again the blood flowed right at the beginning, and by the end both guys were covered in it.  The finish came out of nowhere (in a bad way) when Bass hit Bart with the cowbell off the second rope and abruptly covered him.  This match could've used more cowbell!  Sorry, had to do it.  Dillon then attacked Bass, starting their followup match.  Short and forgettable, Dillon won after a ref bump when Bart knocked Bass unconscious.

My god this was sadistic.

The other two-part event was an arm wrestling match, followed by a wrestling-wrestling match.  Billy Graham vs. Barbarian was the third match in a row with blood, again right at the beginning.  Graham won the arm wrestling match and Barbarian attacked him, leading to a five-minute throwaway.

Refreshingly we got a gimmick-free bout next: Buddy Landell vs. Terry Taylor.  This was a well-worked wrestling match, though it was like watching Ric Flair's stunt double wrestle his son.  It's so odd that JJ Dillon managed the fake Ric Flair only months before he traded up for the real one.  The ending was clever - Taylor went for a superplex but Dillon quickly swept his leg out from under him and both wrestlers fell to the mat hard with Landell on top for the pin.  Definitely the highlight of the show so far.

The second half picked up pretty well, with multiple Championship matches, starting with Ole & Arn Anderson vs. Wahoo McDaniel & Billy Jack Haynes.  Decent enough little match that started out fast-paced before the Andersons took over on offense.  Sadly this had a pretty silly ending with Arn pinning Billy after a simple forearm strike with Ole holding his leg down.

The most memorable bout on the show was unquestionably Tully Blanchard vs. Magnum TA for the US Title.  A classic I Quit Steel Cage match that was gritty, realistic and brutal.  This was just a slugfest with lots of vicious ground & pound, great selling, and buckets of blood.  The closing moments with the two fighting over a piece of broken chair are iconic.  Nothing fancy, but a helluva fight.

The I Quit match was tough to follow, and this next match didn't really bother.  The Midnight Express faced Jimmy Valiant & Miss Atlanta Lively in what was a very wild brawl, but the babyface team was impossible to take seriously, particularly with Ronnie Garvin dressed in drag.  Also, three of the participants were bleeding within the first minute, which was unnecessary coming after such a great gorefest.  Not much of a match.

The semi-main slot went to Ivan & Nikita Koloff vs. The Rock n' Roll Express for the Tag Team Titles.  This was a very enjoyable Steel Cage tag match.  Morton & Gibson were expert underdog babyfaces and at the time probably the most consistently good team in the company.  This fine bout built to a cleverly executed finish, as Morton blind-tagged Gibson, bounced off the opposite ropes, and rolled up Ivan for the pin.  Then all hell broke loose as the Russians beat the piss out of the good guys.  One of the best matches on the show.

Flair's hair looks dented; no wonder he's upset.

In a rematch from Starrcade '84, the main event was Ric Flair vs. Dusty Rhodes for the World Title.  This was light years better than its predecessor, but rather unremarkable overall.  The action was a little slow, and I always thought Flair and Dusty had better chemistry as characters than in the ring.  Flair bladed pretty unnecessarily, bringing the total number of matches with blood to eight (if you include the tacked-on Bass vs. Dillon match).  That's pretty excessive; when the majority of matches on a given show feature blood it becomes numbing and it takes away some impact from matches that need it, like the brutal Tully-Magnum bout.  Since Flair's bleeding didn't play into this match at all, it was just gratuitous.  The end came after a ref bump.  Arn and Ole interfered unsuccessfully and then Dusty rolled Flair up into a small package (which Flair visibly assisted with) while the secondary ref counted the pin.  Dusty appeared to win the Title but a week later it was overturned when Tommy Young retroactively disqualified Flair for outside interference.  Rather questionable if you ask me - why reward Flair after the fact for the Andersons' illegal conduct?  Anyway, this match was decent but not great.

Starrcade '85 holds up thirty years later as a pretty good show featuring one bona fide classic, four or five decent bouts, and nothing I'd call truly bad.  The NWA definitely relied much too heavily on blading to ramp up the drama, when less of that would've made it much more meaningful and dramatic.  But this show had a lot to like, so it gets an easy passing grade.

Best Match: Tully Blanchard vs. Magnum TA
Worst Match: Billy Graham vs. The Barbarian
What I'd Change: Tone down the blood so it means something when it's needed.  The I Quit match was brutal but would've come off much more strongly had it not followed four other bloodbaths.  Sometimes less is more.  Also I generally hate the Dusty Finish.
Most Disappointing Match: The Andersons vs. Wahoo & Haynes
Most Pleasant Surprise: Terry Taylor vs. Buddy Landell
Overall Rating: 7/10


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1984
1986





Tuesday, November 26, 2019

The History of NXT TakeOver: WarGames III

The NXT crew is nothing if not consistent.  This past weekend's TakeOver: WarGames show was yet another in the black & gold brand's loooooong line of good-to-excellent specials, a streamlined 4-match card featuring two double-cage schmozzes.  While not quite on the level of last year's WarGames, this nonetheless stole the weekend.


The first this double main event was, of course, the historic inaugural women's WarGames match, pitting Shayna Baszler, Io Shirai, Bianca Belair and Kay Lee Ray against Rhea Ripley, Candice LeRae, Tegan Nox and Dakota Kai (subbing for Mia Yim, who'd been attacked backstage during the kickoff show).  Longtime friends-turned-rivals LeRae and Shirai started the match and wrestled a fairly quick pace for the first five-minute period before Belair entered.  Candice took lots of punishment from both opponents before team captain Ripley entered, tossing in multitudes of weapons before officially getting in the ring (this took a bit too long considering Candice was in peril).  Ripley ran wild and looked like a total badass from the outset, before Kay Lee Ray entered to give the heels the numbers advantage again.  Ripley's next team member was supposed to be Dakota Kai, but Kai turned on her friend Tegan Nox, kicking her back into the on-deck cage and smashing her leg in the cage door.  Officials tried to pry her off, but she kept at it, even getting physical with William Regal.  The crowd went ballistic for this, and moreover it meant that Ripley's team had lost both the deserting Kai and the injured Nox.  Baszler entered, relishing the 4-on-2 advantage, and attempted to handcuff Ripley to the ropes before Candice made the save.  Candice hit a top rope reverse rana on Ray, but then Shirai came off the top of the cage with a gorgeous moonsault on Candice and Bianca, taking all three of them out for the remainder of the match.  Ripley whipped a trash can into an oncoming Ray (brutal-looking) and it was down to the two captains.  Shayna locked in the choke, but Ripley handcuffed herself to Baszler and then hit her with the Riptide through two chairs to get the shocking upset win.  This was a pretty great WarGames match, a step below last year's, but I'd say the best match of this show.  The story took unexpected twists, and while overcoming a 4-on-2 scenario is a tad unlikely, it was handled well and Ripley was a made woman by the end.  I said it in my Survivor Series review, but PUSH HER TO THE MOON RIGHT NOW.  ****1/2


Given the unenviable task of following that match was the #1 Contender's 3-way of Pete Dunne, Damien Priest and Killian Dain.  These three cut a ferocious pace from the start, maybe too fast given how long they had to go.  There were a ton of big moves and reversals, and everything looked fantastic, but it was missing the flow that a great match should have.  Highlight moments included Dain using a Michinoku Driver on Dunne, on top of Priest, Priest Razor's Edge-ing Dunne onto an announce table, Priest hitting a heart-attack sudden corner dive, out of an Irish Whip, onto Dane on the floor, and Dain countering a chokehold with a senton onto Priest, leading to Dunne kicking Dain out of the ring and pinning Priest to win.  This would've been a great 15-minute match but it went almost 20 and was therefore just very good.  ***1/2

The History of NWA/WCW Starrcade (1984)

The classic inaugural Starrcade was followed in 1984 by a.....not so classic one....

Starrcade '84 - Greensboro Coliseum - 11.22.84

The NWA's sophomore Starrcade effort was rather a far cry from the original, with eleven matches crammed into a three-hour format, and precious few of them memorable.  On paper the top-billed bouts looked solid but unfortunately nothing was given enough time, and some of the booking was questionable at best.

I'm just gonna get this out there: I know Gordon Solie is right up there with Jim Ross as the most respected wrestling announcer ever, but I've always found his style pretty bland.  He never seemed emotionally invested in the matches, and he drastically overused the phrase "There's no question about it."  Legit, on this PPV he says that phrase 3-5 times per match.  If there's no question about anything, why even bring it up?

The opening match, Mike Davis vs. Denny Brown had decent enough wrestling but it was too short, and the finish with Mike Brown pinning himself after a back suplex was so confusing even the ring announcer and Gordon Solie called it wrong.  Next up was Brian Adidas vs. Mr. Ito (Mystery Toe?), which had promising action but only went four minutes.

The first standout of the show was Jesse Barr vs. Mike Graham.  This was easily the best thing so far, and possibly the best match on the card.  Really strong mat wrestling and reversals, and Barr had some great heel moments like quick hair pulls and stepping on the ropes momentarily to gain leverage.  Barr won with a schoolboy while hooking the tights.

How was this not a four-star classic?


Monday, November 25, 2019

The History of NWA/WCW Starrcade (1983)

Hey there everyone.  Welcome to Enuffa.com, your home for pro wrestling, movies, music, and other life-altering forms of pop culture.  I know what you're thinking.  You're thinking, "Hey Justin, it's been a while since you posted the complete history of a beloved wrestling supercard.  Can ya help us out?"  You my friends are in luck, because without further ado, I'd like to present.....

The Enuffa.com Complete History of NWA/WCW Starrcade!!!




That's right, it's time to hop into the ol' DeLorean and travel back to 1983, when Jim Crockett Promotions envisioned a wrestling event so magnanimous it couldn't be just for the live crowd in attendance.  It had to be broadcast on closed-circuit television throughout the South!  Big wrestling events on Thanksgiving night had long been a tradition in the region, and Crockett correctly surmised that a supercard held on that date would draw big business.  Starrcade '83 is the real Granddaddy of Them All - the first wrestling event broadcast on closed-circuit, and the prototype for the modern PPV event.  The show was a tremendous success, famously causing massive traffic jams in downtown Greensboro, and JCP made Starrcade an annual tradition.  Quickly it became the promotion's flagship event, and by 1987 it was also carried on pay-per-view.  When Ted Turner bought out Jim Crockett in 1988 he kept the Starrcade brand but moved it to December to avoid having to compete with the WWF's Survivor Series, and that's where it stayed until WCW folded in 2001.

So let's look at the highs, lows and everything in between, of Starrcade!



Starrcade '83 - Greensboro Coliseum - 11.24.83

The inaugural Starrcade was by today's standards a very barebones production which featured quite a few obscure names from the early part of the decade.  It was a very uneven show with a pretty forgettable first half.  But it's the final three matches that make Starrcade '83, and they're all first-rate classics of the era. 

The NWA event lineups back then were different from the WWF approach, in that they stuck all the undercard bouts early on the card and saved the important ones for the second half - quite often the last four matches would all be for championships.  By contrast Vince would spread the big matches around to give each show peaks and valleys, often inserting "buffer matches" between some of the headliners.  There are pros and cons to both philosopies of course.

After three matches that could be considered throwaways (The Assassins vs. Rufus Jones & Bugsy McGraw; Kevin Sullivan & Mark Lewin vs. Scott McGhee & Johnny Weaver; and a brief Abdullah the Butcher-Carlos Colon showdown), the show began for real with a solid tag match: Bob Orton (Randy's dad) teamed with Dick Slater against Mark Youngblood and Wahoo McDaniel.  This was no five-star classic, but it was easily the best match thus far.

Next was a TV Title vs. Mask match between The Great Kabuki and Charlie Brown (actually the "suspended" Jimmy Valiant under a mask).  I've never been much of a Valiant fan, so for me there wasn't much to this, but it does stand as the first-ever championship match on a Starrcade show.
From here on out the show was pure gold.

I'd have tapped out right here.

WWE Survivor Series 2019: NXT Stands Tall


Welp, you could say many things about the 2019 Survivor Series, but one thing you can't say is that they didn't do their damndest to get NXT over.  Triple H's upstart crew took four of the seven head-to-head-to-head matchups and it was clear from the crowd reactions that NXT is the show WWE fans are into these days.  And with good reason; their roster is stacked to the gills with talent and their booking is mostly strong.  Going into this show I wasn't sure what to expect as far as mixing Triple H's booking philosophy with Vince's usual approach.  There were things that didn't make sense to be sure, and choices that were baffling and annoying, but for the most part this show worked really well for me.  For the fourth year in a row the Survivor Series mostly delivered, at times in spite of itself.  Say what you will about the idiocy of brand vs. brand, but this annual tradition has brought us some very good Survivor Series PPVs in recent years.  Yes, the triple threat approach was unwieldy and got old by the end, particularly in the main event, but I'll take a show like this over just about anything the main roster churns out right now.  So let's take the deep dive....

The show opened with the women's elimination match, with Charlotte Flair leading the RAW team against Sasha Banks's Smackdown squad and Rhea Ripley's NXT faction.  First off, let me applaud WWE for bringing the elimination match teams out all at once instead of giving all fifteen participants their own entrances.  I actually read a review complaining about this, and to that I say "Would you rather they spent 20 minutes on entrances for these two matches?"  Anyway, I think these matches would've been better if only two people were allowed in the ring at a time, but for some reason it was triple threat rules.  Still, most of the participants got a bit of time to shine.  Io Shirai and Kairi Sane had some good early exchanges, Carmella had an amusing moment where she kept trying to cover two downed opponents and screamed every time they kicked out, Charlotte and Bianca Belair got a nice battle of the super-athletic women, and Rhea Ripley came off like a fucking superstar.  Push this woman to the moon - she has IT.  The first two eliminations came, bafflingly, after a series of outside the ring dives, which apparently left Io and Candace LaRae "injured."  They were helped to the back, leaving NXT at a two-woman disadvantage.  No idea why they did this, as both of them showed up again at the end and were fine.  This was handled badly, but it's my only real complaint about this match.  NXT eventually evened the odds and more, not losing another member until RAW and Smackdown were down to one woman each.  Charlotte and Asuka got into a shoving match, after which Asuka sprayed mist at Charlotte and walked out, Bad News Brown-style.  Sasha and Natalya eliminated Toni Storm with a double-submission and then hit a Hart Attack on Belair to get it down to one-on-one-on-one.  Sasha then turned on Nattie and pinned her, and we were down to Sasha vs. Ripley.  These two had some nice exchanges and I definitely want to see more of this matchup.  Suddenly Io and Candace showed up to interfere and help Ripley put away Sasha.  Io hit a springboard dropkick and Ripley nailed the Riptide for the win.  I assume Ripley was the sole survivor but they didn't make it clear if Io and Candace were actually eliminated or not.  Regardless, I enjoyed this match a lot and the right team won.  Ripley should be the one to dethrone Shayna Baszler.  ***3/4


Friday, November 22, 2019

WWE Survivor Series 2019 Preview & Predictions

It's that time of year again folks.  It's my favorite gimmick PPV, the one WWE phoned in for so many years but finally remembered how to do well, the Survivor Series!


For the fourth straight year we have a good on-paper lineup based on brand supremacy (two of the last three editions were in my opinion the best main roster show of the year despite literally nothing being at stake), and this year we have the added wrinkle of the NXT crew being involved.  While there are definitely too many three-way matches on this show, we could nonetheless be treated to another high-quality Survivor Series.  Look, I get that the brand rivalry thing is idiotic; why would babyfaces and heels align just because they happen to be on the same show, particuarly when we just had a draft, and why do they have to wear the stupid goddamn branded t-shirts, and why don't they have draft picks at stake or something?  But ya know what?  Once a year I put that kind of logic aside and just enjoy a PPV that reminds me of the classic Survivor Series lineups of old.  And this year there's no shortage of potentially great bouts.  I'm fully aware WWE could fuck it all up, but I'm hoping they can get out of their own way.  Let's get to it....




The Viking Raiders vs. The New Day vs. Undisputed Era


One of a few matches with show stealing potential, this one pits the championship teams from each brand against each other.  The Raiders and Fish & O'Reilly are no strangers to each other and are always great together, while New Day (Hey, remember when Kofi was a main event guy?  Good times.) are always fun to watch.  I'll go with the Raiders to win here.

Pick: War Machine





NXT Championship: Adam Cole vs. ?????


This is tough to predict since we won't know until the night before who Cole's opponent will be, but I picked Pete Dunne to get the match here.  If that's the matchup this should be awesome.  I don't see a reason to change the title, but stranger things have happened.

Pick: Cole retains

The History of WWE Survivor Series (2018)

Amazingly the 2018 edition was a neo-classic Survivor Series PPV, and ended up the best main roster show of the year...

Image result for survivor series 2018 poster"

Well I'll be goddammned.  In 2018 WWE actually pulled off a really great Survivor Series PPV that for me even exceeded the miraculously good show from 2016.  Including the pre-show match (which has to be one of the two or three best pre-show matches of all time), this had three very good elimination matches, four excellent singles bouts and only one throwaway tag match.  In 2018 this was about as good a main roster WWE show as you could ever hope for.  Let's get into it.

I pretty much always skip the pre-shows for these PPVs but since this particular pre-show included my beloved 10-team elimination match I made it a point to watch, and I was glad I did.  While this was obviously no Powers of Pain-Demolition epic from 1988, these ten teams worked their asses off to do something memorable.  The first half felt a bit rushed as teams were getting eliminated pretty quickly, but once it boiled down to New Day & Usos vs. Revival & Gable/Roode, this kicked into high gear.  Loads of crazy offense and dives over/off the top rope (including an absolutely nuts spot where Jimmy Uso German suplexed Gable off the top, onto the pile of guys on the floor).  It boiled down to The Usos vs. The Revival - nice to see Dash & Dawson make it to the end - and Jimmy & Jey hit their superkicks followed by a top-rope splash to win the whole thing.  Just a damn fun opener that won the crowd over (WWE should hold every PPV at the Staples Center, by the way; this crowd was awesome).


The proper PPV opened with the women's elimination match, and this was roughly on par with the 2016 edition.  Some last minute changes improved the match, as Nattie and Ruby Riott were subbed out after a locker room fight in favor of Sasha and Bayley (nothing against Nattie and Ruby, but you can't omit Sasha and Bayley in one of these things).  Mandy Rose disappointingly ended up being the mystery partner for Smackdown, but she at least earned her keep in this match.  Of course the match started with two "shocking" quick eliminations.  WWE has to stop doing this - both main card elimination matches had them and they never get the desired reaction.  They seemingly set up dissension between Rose and Sonya Deville, as Rose stole a pin on Mickie James after Deville leveled her with a sliding knee.  Sasha tapped out Mandy with a Bank Statement and Bayley and Sonya got double counted out.  This paved the way for a super engaging exchange between Sasha and Asuka that lasted a good four minutes.  Sasha gained the upper hand and climbed to the top rope only for Nia Jax to push her off into a waiting Asuka, who slapped on the Asuka Lock for the tap out.  Nia then pounced on Asuka with three legdrops, followed by a Samoan Drop for the win.  Nia had nuclear heel heat coming off her injury of Becky Lynch and came off like a total asshole here.  Very enjoyable match to open the main card.


Next up was a top contender for Match of the Night, as Seth Rollins faced Shinsuke Nakamura.  I daresay this was Nak's best main roster match to date.  He looked a lot like his old NJPW self here, pulling out every move in his arsenal and played the antagonist to the hilt.  The first half of the match was a little slow in spots and they struggled to keep the crowd into it, but in the second half everything picked up tremendously.  They built to a furious pace by the end, trading finisher attempts and counters, and finally Nak went for a Kinshasa but missed, allowing Seth to hit the Curb Stomp for the win after 22 minutes.  I was very happy to see this get the time it deserved and even happier to see Nakamura look really motivated again.  This was pretty excellent.


Thursday, November 21, 2019

NXT TakeOver: WarGames 2019 Preview & Predictions

It's late November, and that means a weekend of WWE team warfare, starting with NXT WarGames!


If the last two editions of TakeOver: WarGames are any indication (particularly the superb 2018 version), this Saturday night's show should be pretty goddamn fantastic.  We've got TWO big matches inside the double-ring cage, a triple threat with Survivor Series implications, and a dream match including a returning NXT legend.  Unfortunately because of WWE's obsession with beating AEW in the Wednesday night ratings, this year's WarGames has been shortchanged in the build, in favor of the 3-way Survivor Series angle.  But that shouldn't stop this from being a great show.  Let's get to it.




#1 Contender Triple Threat Match: Pete Dunne vs. Damien Priest vs. Killian Dain


This was just announced a few days ago, to determine who will face Adam Cole for the NXT Title at Survivor Series.  Should be a fine triple threat, and hopefully whoever wins won't have burned himself out before fulfilling his double-duty this weekend.  To me Dunne makes the most sense to challenge Cole.  Dain is just being rebuilt, and Priest is more or less brand new to NXT.

Pick: Pete gets it Dunne





Finn Balor vs. Matt Riddle


This match could steal the show.  I'm very happy Finn is back on NXT where he'll actually be utilized properly, and I'm sure he's having a grand ol' time away from the main roster nonsense.  A heel turn for him was long overdue, so it's nice to see him return to those roots as well.  Riddle is one of the best workers in the company, so this'll be a helluva contest.  I gotta think Balor takes this one.

Pick: Finn with the win


The History of WWE Survivor Series (2017)

Here was a very good Survivor Series show with an absolutely wretched main event....

Toyota Center - 11.19.17

Well, just like the 2016 Survivor Series, this was a very good PPV that had a mindnumbingly stupid main event.  The problem is, unlike 2016's main event which only took up 90 seconds of my time, this one took 33 minutes.  Brock Lesnar went from the worst match of the night in 2016 to the best match in 2017, while the men's elimination match took the opposite path.

The show opened, smartly, with the six-man tag between two very over squads, The Shield and The New Day.  The crowd was into this and loved both teams (except Roman who got a smattering of "you still suck" chants).  Both trios worked hard and aside from a couple miscues (which seemed oddly prevalent on this show), threw together a very enjoyable 21-minute match which loads of false finishes and an actual ending that was a callback to an earlier spot - after being thwarted earlier in the match, The Shield put it away with their signature triple powerbomb, but delivered it from the second rope.  If anything this match could've been maybe three minutes shorter, and it wasn't at the same level of the Shield's amazing 2014 matches with The Wyatts and Evolution.  But it was a hot opener with a big-fight feel and established The New Day as very worthy opponents for the dominant Shield.

If you didn't pick these guys to win, I dunno what to tell ya.

The women's elimination match was next, after a baffling backstage pep talk from Stephanie McMahon to her RAW team that once again made the actual women wrestlers look subservient to the boss's daughter.  I don't want to see McMahons on my TV screen anymore.  I'm sick to goddamn death of this family.  Anyway, the match itself got over 18 minutes and didn't feel like a sprint, but still felt a bit rushed.  Too many eliminations were too sudden, like Becky Lynch's unceremonious exit two minutes in (This was of course before they knew what they had with Becky).  From there we got a battle of the bulls, as Nia Jax and Tamina faced off.  Tamina won this round by repeatedly attacking Nia outside the ring and hitting her dad's Superfly splash on the floor, getting Nia counted out.  Bayley also fell to Tamina's splash, while Alicia Fox was the victim of a horrendous fast count by the ref.  Naomi had rolled her up and she was clearly supposed to kick out before being locked in a submission hold, but the referee counted 1...2-3 and basically pushed her out of the ring.  Not sure who screwed up, but someone did.  It all boiled down to Nattie and Tamina vs. Asuka, allowing the Empress of Tomorrow to fully demonstrate her dominance by eliminating both opponents clean.  Not a great match but a good one that accomplished what it needed to.  Asuka was set up for a several-month run of dominance that included winning the first-ever Women's Royal Rumble.  Sadly Vince ruined her starting with her WrestleMania 34 loss to Charlotte, and she's become just one of the girls.

Asuka's main roster push looked so promising until Creative started doing what they do.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Top Ten Things: Non-Traditional Survivor Series Matches

Welcome to another episode of Top Ten Things, here at Enuffa.com!

As everyone who's spent any significant time discussing wrestling with me knows, I love me some Survivor Series elimination matches.  Every year I look forward to them, hoping beyond hope that WWE won't completely screw them up.  Some years my faith is rewarded (2016), some years not so much (2017).  But as we all know, Survivor Series is often about more than just the traditional 5-on-5 matches.  Some years the SS gimmick is completely upstaged by a regular old singles or tag team affair.  Some years in fact, one or two non-gimmick matches end up saving the entire show (when the company has decided not to take the traditional SS matches seriously).  Today's list is all about the regular ol' wrestling matches that have stood out, despite their lack of Survivor Series-ness.

Here we go.  This list includes two Honorable Mentions....




HM: Dolph Ziggler vs. John Morrison - 11.20.11


Our first entry is the opening match of the 2011 edition, and the final WWE match for John Morrison, better known these days as Impact Heavyweight Champion Johnny Impact, better known in my household as Johnny Glampants (Damn, he's handsome).  This was a spectacular US Title match, as Dolph Ziggler defended against the aforementioned Captain of Starship Pain.  These two gelled superbly and JoMo left WWE with a bang, nearly stealing the show with a thrilling exercise in nonstop action.  This eleven-minute match featured 17 kinds of Awesome; for those counting, that's roughly 1.5 kinds of Awesome per minute.





HM: Batista vs. The Undertaker - 11.18.07


The Hell in a Cell main event of Survivor Series '07 was the blowoff to the excellent Undertaker-Batista World Title feud.  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 perfect sense and kicked off a great feud with Taker that lasted through most of 2008.





10. Ronda Rousey vs. Charlotte Flair

Image result for ronda vs charlotte survivor series"

Ronda Rousey's best wrestling match to date semi-main evented the 2018 Survivor Series, and holy shit did she and Charlotte beat the piss out of each other.  This match felt like a legitimate fight, with Flair attempting to go all MMA up in this bitch.  They were stiff as hell and incorporated lots of grappling, while Flair also went for her signature stuff.  Charlotte went move for move with Ronda and the match was dead-even almost the entire time.  Finally after being frustrated on numerous occasions Charlotte rolled to the outside, Ronda went after her, and Charlotte whacked her with a kendo stick for the DQ.  What followed was one of the most violent beatdowns I'd seen in a long time.  Charlotte MURDERED Ronda with the kendo stick, leaving welts all over her body, and then Pillmanized her neck with a chair.  The crowd, savages that they were, cheered Charlotte on the whole time, which was a bit disturbing.  But this was a fantastically executed beatdown (which of course WWE didn't follow up properly at all), to cap off a great bout.





9. CM Punk vs. John Cena vs. Ryback - 11.18.12


The 2012 Series was originally to be headlined by a 5-on-5 match between Team Punk (CM Punk, Miz, Alberto Del Rio, Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow) vs. Team Foley (Randy Orton, Ryback, Kofi Kingston, Kane and Daniel Bryan).  Two weeks out however, Vince changed the card around so there'd be a WWE Title match as the main event - CM Punk vs. John Cena vs. Ryback.  Going in I was so pissed about the card reshuffle that I figured this would be a forgettable schmozz of a match.  I was incorrect - these three put together one of the two best matches of the night.  This was a high-energy, chaotic brawl full of believable near-falls that culminated with Ryback hitting Shellshock on Cena.  Before he could get the pin though, three unknown assailants clad in black stormed the ring, beat the tar out of Ryback, and triple powerbombed him through a ringside table.  Punk then opportunistically covered the unconscious Cena to retain the belt.  Those three attackers?  Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns.  This of course proved to be one of the most exciting angles of the decade, launching the careers of three future top stars, and putting an exclamation point on a helluva main event.

The History of WWE Survivor Series (2016)

Minus a bafflingly abbreviated main event, WWE gave me a birthday present in 2016 by bringing back the real Survivor Series concept....

Survivor Series 2016 - Air Canada Centre - 11.20.16

For the 2016 edition WWE finally took the Survivor Series concept back to its roots (mostly), assembling three huge traditional elimination matches - one for the men, one for the women, and one for the tag team division.  All three delivered on some level, laying the foundation for what turned out the best main roster PPV of the year.  Additionally there were three singles matches, two of which also delivered, and one which just may be the most baffling thing of any kind, in any medium, in any universe, ever.  Advanced trigonometry makes more sense to me than did this main event.  But before I start complaining about a show that I frankly quite enjoyed overall, let's talk about the good stuff.

Brock's afraid of Grampa.

The show opened with the Women's elimination match pitting RAW Champ Charlotte, Sasha Banks, Bayley, Nia Jax, and Alicia Fox against Smackdown Champion Becky Lynch, Naomi, Alexa Bliss, Carmella, and Natalya, subbing for Nikki Bella who was attacked by a mystery person backstage (later revealed to be Nattie herself to get into this match).  This match was a lot of fun despite a slightly rushed pace.  The women got a solid 17 minutes to work with and multiple feuds played out a bit.  The RAW vs. Smackdown rivalry has never, and will never work as a believable feud, but at least in a few cases the babyfaces and heels were booked as very reluctant partners.  After Bayley won the match for her team, her co-survivor Charlotte beat the holy hell out of her, hammering home that the pleasantries were over.  Pretty much everyone in this match got time to make an impression, particularly Nia Jax who was booked like a monster, eliminating Naomi by countout after beeling her off the apron onto the floor.  This match easily ranked high on the list of best women's Survivor Series bouts, right up there with the Team Moolah vs. Team Sherri match from 1987.  A great way to open the PPV.


Next up was the Intercontinental Championship, as The Miz, fresh off regaining the strap the previous Tuesday defended against Dolph Ziggler's scheduled opponent, Sami Zayn.  I'm still not sure why Miz was booked to win back the Title at the last minute, as Zayn vs. Ziggler surely would've been the superior contest.  But this was quite alright too.  As I've said before, Zayn is nigh incapable of having a bad match, and The Miz was looking better than ever.  So this gelled nicely.  Miz eventually won in classic heel fashion.  Zayn had slapped on a figure four and Maryse rang the bell to distract both Zayn and the referee, allowing Miz to roll Zayn up for a cheap pinfall.  This was a cheap finish, but an appropriate one for Miz's character.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The History of WWE Survivor Series (2015)

WWE wasn't even trying with this show....

Survivor Series 2015 - Philips Arena - 11.22.15

This was one of those shows where the matches were all inoffensive at worst, but the booking was so completely tone-deaf and out of touch with basic wrestling logic and the will of WWE's entire fanbase.  At a time when the top three in-ring talents, plus a host of other top names, were on the shelf with injuries the company presented three hours of almost total counterproductivity.  I can't recall a time when the WWE Title has been so marginalized, or when an intended top babyface has been made to look so ineffectual.

First a little background.  Seth Rollins had been the WWE Champion since cashing in the briefcase at WrestleMania 31, and was scheduled to finally defend the strap one-on-one against Vince's intended "It guy" Roman Reigns.  The plan was for Reigns' coronation to take place at Survivor Series.  But a couple weeks before the show Rollins suffered a knee injury that would sideline him for 4-6 months.  So a tournament was held for the vacant Title, with Reigns, Alberto Del Rio, Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens advancing to the Final Four at Survivor Series.  Now that that's outta the way let's look at the card....

At long last, the epic showdown.....we didn't get.

The pre-show elimination match was entertaining enough.  Goldust returned from an injury and he and his team made pretty easy work of the Stardust-led heel team (What a pointless feud that ended up).  But unfortunately, as with the main card elimination match, there was zero story here.  It was another case of "ten guys we don't have anything for."  Furthermore, the Goldust team consisted of 48-year-old Dustin Runnels, both 40-plus Dudley Boyz, and a near-40 Titus O'Neil (subbing for the injured Cesaro).  Oh, and former NXT sensation Neville - the one guy eliminated from the babyface team.  Neville's "call-up" from NXT, like so many others, was a career nosedive from day one.  Can't imagine why he later asked for his release.....

The two tournament semi-final matches were both solid.  Reigns vs. Del Rio was called by many the Match of the Night, which I don't agree with.  It was perfectly good but not above three stars or so.  Regardless, no complaints overall.  Ambrose vs. Owens was about on the same level as the opener, but the shortness of it made it feel a little underwhelming.  Turns out that would be a theme on this show.

Next up was the one Survivor Series match on the Survivor Series card.  The two teams were announced exactly two minutes prior to the start of the bout, which is always a good idea if you want your audience to give a sweet crap about what they're watching.  The New Day, Sheamus & Wade Barrett faced Ryback, Lucha Dragons and The Usos, and were given about 18 minutes to tell whatever story this was supposed to be.  The 2015 Money in the Bank winner Sheamus was presented like a buffoonish comedy character and was later deserted by The New Day (Mind you, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods were never counted out or DQd - they were just gone, after helping the eliminated Big E to the back).  Remaining babyfaces Ryback, Jimmy Uso and Kalisto then pretty handily trounced the Celtic Warrior for the win.  Sheamus got pinned by Ryback.  Remember that later.  Sheamus got pinned clean by Ryback (who just a week earlier got pinned clean by Kalisto).

The one real highlight for me was the Divas Title match.  Charlotte and Paige put together an urgent, compelling, innovative 14-minute match that cemented Ms. Flair as the top women's wrestler in the company.  It took a few months, but Charlotte and her fellow NXT alum were by this time finally starting to upstage their male counterparts.  Prior to this I couldn't remember another main roster PPV where the women stole the show (aside from the dreadful 2006 Survivor Series when Lita vs. Mickie James won MOTN by default).  It wasn't perfect and certainly nowhere near the level of the NXT Women's matches or the later Charlotte-Sasha feud, but this was my favorite match of the night.

Now this I liked

The final three matches on this show totaled about 26 minutes.  Totaled. Twenty-six. Minutes.

Dolph Ziggler vs. the latest NXT alum Tyler Breeze was given less than seven minutes and would've been right at home on the first hour of Smackdown.

The semi-main event went to the most hyped match on the show, The Undertaker & Kane vs. two Wyatts.  Originally it seemed like they'd pit all four Wyatts against Taker, Kane and two other babyfaces (Ya know, a Survivor Series match?), but they opted for just two-on-two here.  Again, I want someone in WWE to tell me with a straight face that a plain ol' tag match is a bigger draw on a Survivor Series PPV than a Survivor Series match.  This went about ten minutes and the Wyatts once again came off as not remotely threatening.  It's like Vince has ADD; he gets attached to a new guy for like three months, has him feud with John Cena, lose, and he's never the same again.  Bray Wyatt's main event potential had long since evaporated by this point, and thanks to yet another nostalgia "celebration" he was now 0-2 against the 50-year-old Undertaker.  There wasn't any point to this except to acknowledge Taker's 25th anniversary.  If that's your only storyline going into a semi-main event, you need a rewrite.  And a swift punch in the sack.

The History of WWE Survivor Series (2014)

Everyone loves the main event of this show, but when you really think about it, it was nonsensical.


Survivor Series 2014 - Scottrade Center - 11/23/14

Oddly the main event of the 2014 edition was like a do-over from 2013.  The Authority picked five guys to represent them, against a five-man insurrection led by the company's top babyface.  And if the good guys won, The Authority would be out of power, with only the babyface leader able to reinstate them.  On paper that's a pretty high-stakes elimination match.  Unfortunately the execution leading up to this show was so bad and lacked all urgency, and this type of angle had been done so many times no one really cared.  A year prior, with the Daniel Bryan vs. The Authority feud in high gear, this would've been epic.  In 2014 though, with longtime WWE posterboy John Cena cast as "The guy Triple H and Steph don't want representing the company because........just because," it doesn't quite work.  But before we get to this match, let's look at the rest of the show.

First up was a four-way match for the Tag Team Title, as Goldust & Stardust defended against Team Mizdow, The Usos, and Los Matadores.  Taken in and of itself this match was perfectly decent.  It was given over fifteen minutes and everyone involved could work.  The problem was these four teams had faced each other in various combinations ad nauseum over the preceding weeks, so nothing about this felt special.  It was just eight guys executing a match.  Also this being Survivor Series, Elimination Rules would've made more sense.  Mizdow won the belts prematurely to further the eventual split between Miz and Sandow, which as we all know led to nothing.

They won the belts too soon and split up too soon.
Next up was a four-on-four Divas elimination match: Alicia Fox, Emma, Naomi and Natalya vs. Paige, Cameron, Layla, and Summer Rae.  There was little point to this match but I'll be goddamned if it wasn't terribly entertaining.  It's a rare thing for a women's match of any kind to get nearly fifteen minutes on a PPV, and this was actually treated like a real Survivor Series bout.  Sadly it was a clean sweep which I hate in general (these should be saved for very rare occasions and made into a huge deal), but I liked the match quite a bit all things considered.

The first big match of the night was next, as Dean Ambrose faced Bray Wyatt in a battle of the crazy dudes.  This was pretty underwhelming actually, and ended with a lame DQ.  They'd have a much better match with an even dumber ending at TLC.

Next up was Adam Rose and The Bunny vs. Heath Slater and Titus O'Neil.  What in the hell was the point of this?  Between the match itself and the entrances this took up probably 7 minutes of valuable air time that could've been given to one of the matches people actually gave a shit about.

Monday, November 18, 2019

The History of WWE Survivor Series (2013)

I hate this show so much...

Survivor Series 2013 - TD Garden - 11/24/13

Ugh.  WWE was on their way to a triumvirate of good consecutive Survivor Series PPVs but then assembled this turd of a show, seemingly as a way to dare fans not to order it.  I remember reading online about a month before this show that WWE was really striving to put together a stacked Series PPV to make it seem like one of the Big Four again.  When the final card was announced I said, "Wow, they only missed that goal by about twelve parsecs."

What's sad is they had a ready-made five-on-five match just sitting there.  The Authority angle had just begun a few months earlier, and unlike in 2014 the fans actually cared about it.  Also unlike 2014, WWE had a full roster of healthy talent.  Sadly we'd have to wait a full year for an Authority vs. Anti-Authority Survivor Series match, and on paper the 2014 incarnation wasn't nearly as intriguing as the 2013 one could've been.

The only real elimination match at the 2013 Series PPV OPENED the show.  Yup.  Went on first.  This would be like the Rumble match going on first.  How can you have a PPV centered around a gimmick match and then have that gimmick match open the fucking event, with the rest of the show essentially just a slew of regular matches?  Anyway, The Shield and The Real Americans teamed up to take on The Rhodeses, The Usos, and Rey Mysterio.  In fairness this was a fine elimination match and helped build up Roman Reigns as a monster heel, but otherwise lacked much purpose.  Dean Ambrose was eliminated only two minutes in for some reason, but following that we ended up with a nice 5-on-2 scenario for Reigns and Rollins to come back from.  Reigns took out four men with The Spear to win the match.

Nothing was gonna follow this.  Not with the phoned-in card they booked.

Next Big E. Langston had a run-of-the-mill RAW match, successfully defending the I-C Title against Curtis Axel.  Yawn.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

The History of WWE Survivor Series (2012)

An historic show that had long-reaching fallout....

Survivor Series 2012 - Bankers Life Fieldhouse - 11/18/12

This here was a helluva Survivor Series.  Along with the 2009 edition, 2012 was probably the best or second-best Series of the past fifteen years.  Not one but two full-length, exciting elimination matches were featured, and the main event was both a good match AND included a major show-closing angle.  It should be noted that this card was reshuffled only two weeks before the event due to Vince's batshit decree that the fans didn't want to see a Survivor Series elimination match headline Survivor Series.  More on that later.  Regardless, WWE delivered one of the strongest Survivor Series cards in years.

The PPV opened with one of the two traditional SS matches, which as I recall wasn't officially announced beforehand.  Brodus Clay led Justin Gabriel, Tyson Kidd, Sin Cara and Rey Mysterio against Tensai, Primo & Epico, and the Prime Time Players.  The bout took its time, featured pretty spectacular action, and amazingly the two oversized team captains were the first two knocked out, leaving the smaller midcard guys to carry the match.  After a tremendously entertaining 18 minutes Mysterio, Sin Cara, Gabriel and Kidd won the whole thing.

Next was a solid Divas Title match between Eve Torres (at the time probably the most over heel Diva on the roster) against Kaitlyn.  This was pretty standard stuff, but both women could work and they had a strong outing.

Third was a bit of a filler match as US Champion Cesaro defended against R-Truth.  Nothing great here but it was a decent RAW-quality match.

The World Championship was up next as new Champ Big Show defended against former Champion Sheamus.  This was a good hard-hitting big-man match until Show pulled the referee in front of him to absorb a Brogue Kick, earning a DQ.

What an eclectic bunch of guys.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

The History of WWE Survivor Series (2011)

This show was on its way to being really good, until an idiotic main event match...

Survivor Series 2011 - Madison Square Garden - 11/20/11

This show was loads of fun, up until the main event.  There's not a bad match on the card, but I found the Rock/Cena vs. Miz/Truth tag match utterly depressing.  But we'll get to that in a bit.

The PPV opened with a spectacular US Title match, as Dolph Ziggler defended against the departing John Morrison.  These two gelled superbly and JoMo left WWE with a bang.  This eleven-minute match featured 17 kinds of Awesome.  For those counting, that's roughly 1.5 kinds of Awesome per minute.

Second was a solid Divas Title match between Beth Phoenix and Eve Torres.  Nothing mindblowing, but both of these women could work, and they did.

The lone elimination match was next, as Wade Barrett led Cody Rhodes, Jack Swagger, Hunico (the former Fake Sin Cara and now simply known as Sin Cara), and Mr. Double-Duty Dolph Ziggler against Randy Orton, Sheamus, Kofi Kingston, Mason Ryan (??), and Sin Cara (now simply known as Not Sin Cara).  As always someone had to be pinned very early; this time it was Ziggler, and shortly after that Sin Cara injured himself (man this guy turned out to be a bust) and had to forfeit his spot.  Once that stuff was over though, this turned into a pretty good elimination match.  Barrett was just beginning to look like a real star and along with Cody, outlasted Team Orton to take the duke.  Sadly Barrett was plagued by injuries the rest of his WWE run and his push was never fully realized.

The World Title match was up next as Mark Henry defended against The Big Show.  On paper this sounds like a snorefest, but it was actually pretty decent.  The action was stiff and included the old Tackle-Through-The-Barricade spot.  Henry hit Show with a nutshot to cheaply retain the belt, and Show made him pay for it by injuring his leg with a chair.  This would've been the perfect time for Mr. Money in the Bank Daniel Bryan (who wasn't booked on this show) to cash in and win the World Title in front of a rabid New York crowd, but the company chose to save that for the TLC PPV in December.  Whatever....

All you gotta do is tap, Del Rio.  Tap-tap-tappa-roo!

The true main event of the evening was second-to-last as WWE Champion Alberto Del Rio defended against WWE's newest folk hero CM Punk.  This was a fantastically-worked match, full of great action, drama, submission holds and reversals.  After 17 minutes Punk forced Del Rio to tap out to the Anaconda Vice and began his legendary 434-day reign as WWE Champion.  The MSG crowd ate up this match and its aftermath with a serving ladle.  Unfortunately its awesomeness would be upstaged by the billed main event.....

Friday, November 15, 2019

The History of WWE Survivor Series (2010)

Well, half of this show is good...

Survivor Series 2010 - American Airlines Arena - 11/21/10

Survivor Series 2010 is like two different shows.  The first half is pretty fantastic.  The second half is so bland it's like the company ran out of energy at the 90-minute mark and just slapped together the last four matches.

The show opened wonderfully with Daniel Bryan defending the US Title against Ted Dibiase.  Bryan was on a major roll, delivering show-stealing matches for the last four PPVs.  This one was no different.  While not on the level of his bouts with Dolph Ziggler, The Miz or John Morrison, Bryan-Dibiase was one hell of an opening contest and further cemented Bryan as a rising star.

Yeah D-Bry!  I love y--- er, I mean...you're quite a grappler.....

Second was one of a series of strong matches between John Morrison and Sheamus.  These two had excellent David vs. Goliath chemistry and their feud, while not exactly raising Sheamus's stock, elevated Morrison splendidly, for a while at least.  Morrison and Sheamus would top themselves at TLC a month later in a thrilling ladder match.

Next up was Dolph Ziggler defending his Intercontinental Title against NXT Season 2 winner Kaval (formerly Low-Ki).  WWE clearly didn't bank on Kaval winning NXT but their hand was forced when the audience overwhelmingly voted for him.  The prize was a PPV Title match of his choosing.  This was another well-worked midcard bout and Kaval looked right at home as an I-C contender.  Unfortunately despite obvious fan support WWE stubbornly refused to do anything with Kaval, even going so far as to inform him they had no plans for him, and he requested his release shortly after this match.  Another example of how much disdain WWE seemingly has for its own audience at times.

The final match in the "good" half of this show was the traditional elimination match.  Alberto Del Rio captained the team of Drew McIntyre, Cody Rhodes, Jack Swagger, and Tyler Reks against Rey Mysterio, Big Show, MVP, Kofi Kingston, and Chris Masters.  This was solid if a little unremarkable.  Del Rio was strangely knocked out by Big Show halfway in, which more or less telegraphed who was winning this match, given the card position of his four teammates.  Rey and Big Show survived after taking out a slew of midcarders.