Thursday, November 9, 2023

The History of WWE Survivor Series (2004)

The Randy Orton babyface experiment peaks here before its steep crash...

Survivor Series 2004 - Gund Arena - 11/14/04

The 2004 edition was a great big donut PPV - good at the beginning and the end, but empty in the middle.  This was honestly a show I wasn't expecting to like much at all, but it ended up being pretty decent.  The push was on for the OVW Class of 2002, as Randy Orton had become the company's top babyface despite being ill-suited for the role, and John Cena and Batista were emerging to the forefront.  I wasn't much interested in any of these guys but I got why they were being pushed.  JBL as the WWE Champ however was another matter.  Still befuddled by that one.

The opener was a Fatal 4-Way Cruiserweight Title match, as Spike Dudley defended against Rey Mysterio, Chavo Guerrero and Billy Kidman.  Exactly the type of match you want to kick off a PPV - fast-paced and full of crowd-pleasing moves.

Next was a potential show-stealer, as Shelton Benjamin defended the I-C Title against Christian.  This was given ample time and both guys turned in some fine work.  Remember when the company actually seemed to give a shit about Shelton?  And the I-C belt?

The donut hole began now, with the Smackdown elimination match.  Kurt Angle, Carlito, Luther Reigns (any relation to Roman?), and Mark Jindrak faced Eddie Guerrero, Rob Van Dam, Big Show, and John Cena.  For the second year in a row the SD elimination match seemed like it was only included out of obligation, and one of the participants was eliminated before the opening bell.  Unbelievable.  Carlito ran in fear from his nemesis John Cena (from whom he had cheaply won the US Title in his television debut) and was counted out.  From there Team Eddie dominated and made short work of the heels, winning the match in a scant twelve minutes.

Angle's team got bitchslapped here.

The most offensive match on the show was next, as The Undertaker took on the cosmically inept, made-Sycho-Sid-look-competent Heidenreich.  John Heidenreich was essentially WWE's attempt to replace Brock Lesnar as a monster heel, except he lacked Lesnar's wrestling background and most of his athletic ability and natural presence.  But they still paired him with Paul Heyman hoping the name association and Heidenreich's passing resemblance would make us all forget about Brock.  So in essence he was the 2004 counterpart to Fake Razor & Diesel.  By the way there was a point in this match where John struggled noticeably to figure out how to execute a Cobra Clutch.  How he made it past Developmental I'll never know.  This went sixteen laborious minutes.
Here's a quick one though, Trish vs. Lita for the Women's Title?  84 seconds.  Yes, they used up valuable air time for ring entrances, introductions and a video package, for a match that ended in disqualification after eighty-four seconds.  Eat me.

Finally things got back on track in the semi-main spot, as WWE Champion JBL faced Booker T in a very solid 14-minute brawl.  Both guys worked hard to make Booker look like a strong challenger who should've had the match won but for extensive cheating on JBL's part.  This is a good forgotten match.

Two men in this match do not belong.  I'll give ya three guesses who they are.

The main event was shockingly a Survivor Series elimination match.  Funny how when Triple H is a Champion his elimination match goes last, but in 2003 when Brock Lesnar was a Champion his elimination match opened the show.  Anyway, Triple H, Edge, Batista and Snitsky(??) squared off against Randy Orton, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho and Maven(?????).  Once again a participant was missing at the start of the match, as Snitsky had laid out Maven backstage.  Not to worry though, the Tough Enough grad made it back in time to get pinned by Triple H.  This boiled down to Randy Orton vs. Hunter and Edge, and he defeated them both.  Remember, we were still in the midst of the failed Randy Orton Babyface Experiment (ROBE for short) of 2004, when Orton got dumped by Evolution and somehow that was supposed to make us like him.  But this match was good stuff.

The 2004 edition was far from great, but it had four good matches out of seven, including the two top-billed bouts.  Not too shabby considering what a shambles the product was at this time.

Best Match: Team Orton vs. Team Triple H
Worst Match: Undertaker vs. Heidenreich - This was not unlike gouging the tender skin under your nails with a letter opener.
What I'd Change: Cut Trish vs. Lita.  Sorry, I love them both, but if they're only getting 90 seconds, save it for RAW.  Fire Heidenreich and give Taker a real opponent.  Tack ten minutes onto the Smackdown elimination match.
Most Disappointing Match: Team Guerrero vs. Team Angle
Most Pleasant Surprise: JBL vs. Booker T
Overall Rating: 6.5/10
Better than WrestleMania XX and/or SummerSlam '04? - Ummmm, nope.


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