Saturday, November 25, 2023

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.  In 2014 it was 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.
The semi-main slot once again went to the Divas Title, as AJ Lee faced Nikki Bella.  Always fond of referencing booking decisions the fans universally hate, this match was a callback to the infamous 18-second screwjob from WrestleMania 28.  You know which one.  Evil Nikki's good twin Brie climbed up on the ring apron and kissed AJ, distracting her long enough for Nikki to attack from behind and hit her Rack Attack finisher for the quick win.  Thus Brie became a heel along with Nikki, with exactly no justification given, after three months of the two feuding with each other.  I'm still waiting for an explanation, dicks.

And finally we arrive at the main event of Survivor Series 2013, except it's 2014.  Team Authority: Seth Rollins, Rusev, Luke Harper, Kane and Mark Henry vs. Team Cena: John Cena, Big Show, Dolph Ziggler, Ryback and Erick Rowan.  The teams had changed several times leading up to this show, with Ryback teasing an alliance with the Authority only to jump to Cena's side, and Erick Rowan turning babyface for no reason to replace an injured Sheamus.  So this whole match was a nonsensical jumble.  The booking wasn't much better really.  Mark Henry was ousted in the first minute (because we can't have a major elimination match without someone being pinned immediately) before things settled down into a very good Survivor Series match.

But after Ryback, Rusev and Rowan were gone, Nonsense Booking #1 took place: Big Show just decided mid-match to sell out his team and join the Authority, knocking Cena out and leaving him primed for elimination.  This meant Dolph Ziggler was on his own against Rollins, Kane and Harper.  Now, if this happened after say, Team Cena lost two guys in a row, making it 5-3, then I could maybe understand Show selling out.  But as it was later explained, Show "panicked" and screwed over his own team when they were tied at 3.  So it made no sense at all.  It was dramatic though, and set up Ziggler for an amazing comeback stretch that ultimately left him one-on-one with Rollins.

Now for Nonsense Booking #2 - Triple H attacked two different referees as they were about to count a pin on Rollins, then beat up Ziggler himself and called for corrupt official Scott Armstrong to count the pin.  Now, it seems to me that in a situation where the guy in charge of the company will be ousted from power if his team loses a match, it's kind of idiotic booking for him to physically interfere.  If he has the clout to get away with directly affecting the match's outcome, why not just install his corrupt referee from the outset and screw over the good guys?  If he doesn't have the clout to get away with it, the screwjob result would just get thrown out anyway.  So Hunter getting physically involved doesn't work in either situation.

Hey who invited the homeless clown?

Finally it was time for Nonsense Booking #3, as Sting showed up out of nowhere to confront Triple H and take him out of the equation before rolling Ziggler on top of Rollins for all the marbles.  Two things about Sting's appearance here: 1) Sting had no emotional stake whatsoever in this match or in The Authority's existence, so why would he show up?  2) Randy Orton had been injured by Rollins a month earlier and hadn't been seen since, so why in the fuck wasn't HE the one to show up and even the odds against The Authority??  Wouldn't that have told a much better story?  I know everyone was ga-ga over Sting's WWE debut, but since this particular role didn't work for him at all and he wouldn't be seen on WWE TV again until like February, there was no point to this.  He never even showed up on RAW to explain himself until the build for WrestleMania, and his eventual match with Hunter was just turned into yet another "WCW sucks" angle that resulted in his losing his first WWE match.

All that said, this was a really good elimination match that was full of drama and given weight not seen since the Team Austin vs. Team Bischoff match at the 2003 Series.  But the sloppy-as-fuck storytelling prevented this from being an all-time great match.

Overall the 2014 Series was pretty indicative of the state of the company, where the in-ring talent was more than capable of pulling off a good PPV, but the Creative was a total mess, both in building up the show and executing the finishes.  Also the company clearly had no endgame for RAW post-Authority, as the show reverted to the reviled Guest Host format from 2009, where a revolving door of celebrities and roster members were in charge for the night.  The Authority were reinstated by early 2015, so this whole show was pretty pointless in the grand scheme.  Then again, at least this wasn't Survivor Series 2013....

Best Match: Team Authority vs. Team Cena
Worst Match: Adam Rose & Bunny vs. Slater & O'Neil
What I'd Change: A lot.  The main event should've happened a year earlier, the Rose match shouldn't have happened at all, and Creative should've happened to plan out some kind of worthy aftermath to all this nonsense.
Most Disappointing Match: Ambrose vs. Wyatt
Most Pleasant Surprise: Divas Elimination Match
Overall Rating: 5/10
Better than WrestleMania XXX, SummerSlam 2014 and/or Royal Rumble 2014? - No, nope, and yes.

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