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WWE Survivor Series
November 16, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


On Friday, I pegged Survivor Series as a possible "Breakthrough Show"...  and I thought the best chance for somebody to step up and make a difference was in the SD! brand five-on-five match.  And although both Chris Benoit and John Cena survived that match and bested both of SD!'s singles champions, the man who quite possibly saw his position improved the most tonight was Randy Orton.  After he was the beneficiary of a pointless mid-show angle in which he RKO'ed millionaire Mark Cuban, Orton also was the Sole Survivor in the Team Bischoff vs. Team Austin match, and will be able to take credit for killing off the legend of Steve Austin.

Kane also made a huge impact, not just winning his blow-off match against Shane McMahon, but also appearing as Vince McMahon's "Higher Power," helping Vince to beat the Undertaker in the Buried Alive match.

But enough vague, abbreviated results.  You want the Full Report.  So here is a detailed segment-by-segment rundown of the just-completed WWE Survivor Series PPV [editorial comments appended in red italics, as per OO custom]:

  • On Sunday Night Heat: tons of video packages and hype, as you might expect... but what might come as a shocker is that scheduled PPV match, Tajiri vs. Jamie Noble also took place.  A good, but far-too-short match at around six minutes, the highlight was Noble actually locking in a Tarantula on Tajiri, only to have Akio and Sakoda interrupt, creating enough of a diversion for Tajiri to strike.  Tajiri gets the tainted pinfall. [I'm upset that they squashed this into a six minute slot on Heat, instead of letting it ride to its full PPV-length potential.  But keeping the title on Tajiri is the right move, and this was certainly very good for the short time it lasted.]
  • The PPV opened big, with SD!'s five-on-five elimination match.  John Cena hit the ring first, and cut a rap to the delight of the audience, and then the ring began filling up.  Brock Lesnar was the last to enter, and before he even made it to the ring, Bob Holly bum-rushed him.  As Holly and Lesnar brawled on the outside, a referee tried to break them up, but Holly forcibly shoved him down.  Bob Holly was DQ'ed immediately.  In the ring, things settled down with Bradshaw and A-Train working for their respective teams.  But they did not work long.  Inside of 90 seconds, Bradshaw nailed a Clothesline from Hell on Train to pin him, but then walked right into a Big Show chokeslam to get eliminated himself.  Before 2 minutes, we're down to 4-on-3. Team Angle, down to its three strongest members, regrouped, and rallied, managing to take out first Matt Morgan (I forget how, though), and then Nathan Jones.  Angle actually got Jones to tap to the anklelock, but as soon as he did, he was peeled off by Brock Lesnar, who nailed an F-5, and pinned Captain Angle at around the 10 minute mark.  Without their leader, Cena and Benoit had even odds against SD!'s two singles champions.  Benoit wound up carrying the load, and worked several crisp minutes against WWE Champ Lesnar... in fact, their confrontation came to a decisive end when Benoit made Lesnar tap out, clean, to the Crippler Crossface, at about the 13 minute mark.  Whoa.  Benoit, however, didn't fare so well against Big Show... but he caught a break when he stumbled into his own corner, causing John Cena to be tagged in.  But Show didn't realize there had been a tag, and kept his focus on Benoit.  As the ref tried to get Show sorted out, Cena grabbed his chain, and landed a knockout blow to Show's noggin.  Then, after the ref escorted Benoit out of the ring, Cena hoisted Show up, paraded him around the ring for a few seconds (another definite "Whoa"), and nailed the F-U for the clean pinfall win.  Survivors:  Chris Benoit and John Cena.  [An excellently conceived opener.  The personalities people didn't have much reason to care about were either eliminated VERY quickly or were utilized in an effective manner to set up the final two-on-two segment.  From there, perfect booking.  Benoit gets a pin on the world champ, Cena pins the US Champ, creating two instant feuds out of nothing, and giving a nice big rub to two guys who could most use it.  Fifteen very watchable minutes of action and absolutely the perfect finish.]
  • Backstage: Vince McMahon goes into Shane McMahon's dressing room and tries to make a sort of tenuous peace with his son.  But Shane's having none of it, and tells Vince the only thing he (Shane) feels right now is sorry for Vince and what he's about to go through.  Vince gets an odd look on his face and retreats.  [I broached the subject of Kane crossing over between the two McMahon storylines about a week ago, and this segment certainly did nothing but keep the possibility on the tip of my brain as the night went on.  In that respect, it was very useful, though, as always, obnoxiously over-acted on Vince's part.]
  • Molly Holly defeated Lita to retain the Women's Title.  Another superbly worked and ideally booked match...  Lita, continuing to spotlight her altered repertoire, wrestled a match that was more technically sound and old school than it was spot-centric.  And of course, that plays perfectly to Molly's strength.  Molly also continued to be very enthusiastic in her heelishness, which kept the crowd into the match.  Finish was nice: Molly hit the Molly-Go-Round, but Lita summoned her final reserves to kick out.  Frustrated, Molly resorted to chicanery: while the ref was checking on Lita, Molly untied the middle turnbuckle pad in one of the corners, and second later, reversed her way into slingshotting Lita face-first into the exposed steel.  Lita crumpled to the mat, Molly made the cover, and got the pinfall after about 8 minutes of work.  [A flat-out good match, with no qualifiers ("good for girls," for instance) necessary nor appropriate.  Well-worked with a finish that helps both women: Molly's deviousness is underscored, and Lita comes out with a reason to go revenging.]
  • Kane beat Shane McMahon in their Ambulance Match.  I think this is a rare case when one can say, "Exactly what you'd expect," and it's not just a cheap cop-out to avoid describing what went down.  This literally was just about exactly what any wrestling fan of a certainly level of intelligence would have expected to see.  Lots of generic brawling, punctuated by about three really high energy spots courtesy of Crazy Shane.  I feel no need nor desire to recount the various ways Shane was tossed into the ambulance or to enumerate the number of punches and kicks thrown here.  Instead, I'll just tell you that Shane started off the match with the big elbow drop off the top rope through the Spanish Announce Table.  Then, when the brawl went backstage, he backed an SUV into Kane in a spot that was staged well enough to be effective.  And finally, in the Spot of the Match, Shane did the Van Terminator dropkick dive from the roof of the ambulance into Kane (who was positioned about 15 feet away on the floor of the arena).  But even after all of that, Kane recovered to randomly toss Shane into various objects, then nailed him with a Tombstone on the concrete, and threw him into the ambulance and closed the doors to win the match.  [I guess maybe the final spot was a bit anticlimactic, but there were enough earlier high spots to render this worthwhile.  You got yourself an intense brawl that didn't overstay its welcome.  At around 15 minutes, this was actually a bit shorter than I anticipated, but that was A-OK by me.]
  • Backstage: Josh Matthews is interviewing Brock Lesnar... and Lesnar is in Full Denial Mode.  He didn't get beat, he didn't tap out (cue the "You Tapped Out" chant, natch), and he's the WWE Champion, goddammit, and he'll face anyone to prove how good he is.  Enter... Goldberg?  Whoa, again.  Goldberg and Lesnar go eye to eye, and Goldberg lays a mild verbal smack down on Lesnar before walking away.  [I expected cross-overs on this show.  I did not expect this cross-over, however.  Might they actually play the Champion vs. Champion card at WM20?  I'd argue against it for about five billion reasons -- unless they decide to just give up on the brand split idea -- but this could have been the planting of just such a seed.]
  • In a relatively pointless waste of time, Jonathan Coachman came out to the ring to "thank the fans" for all their support and get well wishes since he was 3-D'ed on Monday.  But then Coach spots Dallas Mavs owner Mark Cuban seated at ringside, and decided to conduct an interview.  When Cuban reveals he's looking forward to seeing Team Austin prevail later on, Coach takes exception...  but Coach is also excused by Eric Bischoff, who decides he'll conduct this interview with Cuban himself.  Bischoff even invites Cuban into the ring.  When Bischoff tells Cuban "You think you're such hot stuff, but you're nothing," Cuban decides he's had enough, and shoves Bischoff hard to the mat.  But look out behind you, Mark!  There's Randy Orton, who nails the RKO, and looks quite pleased with himself as he retreats from the ring.  [Umm, so I guess this is why we had to put Tajiri/Noble in the Heat Ghetto?  So WWE could suck up and give an ego stroke to a douchebag millionaire NBA owner?  Sorry, WWE, but on this on, you get no points.  Mark Cuban is not ready for PPV, and given what was to come for Orton later in the night, I don't think he needed this spot, either.]
  • Backstage: Triple H, Ric Flair, and Batista are partying it up with a bevy of broads and a couple bottles of champagne.  Victory for HHH is assured, they claim. Then Randy Orton comes in and puts his nipples over before also reminding us that he'll be killing the legend of Steve Austin later tonight.
  • The Bashams defeat Los Guerreros to retain the WWE Tag Team Titles.  Good enough stuff here, but I think they missed an opportunity to play up the "Chavo got his ass kicked three days ago" angle, and instead did a more generic style of match, with Eddie actually doing most of the babyface in peril work for his team.  Even though the work was good, that lack of a latch-on-to-able psychology or intra-match storyline meant the crowd wasn't as much into this as they could have been.  Finish came after Chavo had been hot tagged, and Chaos Broke Loose.  With all four guys brawling in the ring, Chavo went for a wrap-around DDT, but on the wrap-around, accidentally kicked Eddie in the head.  Eddie went down, and when Chavo went to check on him, one of the Bashams rolled Chavo up from behind, pulled on the tights for some extra illegal leverage, and got the cheap pinfall.  After the match, Chavo and Eddie lingered in the ring and appeared to have a few words for each other, but that passed quickly, and they left the ring together.  [A bit disappointing, I think, given that they had material to work with that went unused.  The lack of sizzle and the shortness of this match, under 10 minutes, let me down.  Still nothing bad, though.  I guess maybe I just expected too much.]
  • And then, I have four words for you:  Match.  Of.  The.  Night.  Team Austin vs. Team Bischoff was the centerpiece of the Survivor Series, with Shawn Michaels standing out, for the second year in a row, as the star of the November classic.  Both teams of five entered together, with Austin and Bischoff leading them, and as a counter-point to the SD! 5-on-5, this one got worked up to full speed a bit more slowly.  And once things got moving, they did so in a most unexpected fashion.  When the other eight guys powdered out, Booker T was able to isolate on Scott Steiner in a rematch of the Last Nitro Ever.  And just as in that previous match, Booker got the better of Steiner, pinning him with a Book End.  Steiner out first?  Huh.  And even more confusing: less than a minute later, Mark Henry stunned everybody by eliminating Booker with a powerslam of some kind.  Whoa, there goes the guy I picked to be the Sole Survivor....  what happened to getting rid of Henry, Christian, and the Dudleys first?  Team Austin briefly gains an edge after Henry's eliminated with a 3-D, but then the heels go on a tear, eliminating Rob Van Dam next (damn, another unexpected elimination).  Then D-Von went down.  And then Bubba.  At ringside, Eric Bischoff looked exceptionally smug as his team had a 3-on-1 edge at the 15 minute mark.  And it got worse for Austin before it got better.  Shortly after being singled out, Shawn Michaels found himself getting slingshot into the steel ringpost, and came up gushing.  Even wearing a crimson mask, Michaels would not stay down for the three-count, however.  At the 20 minute mark, he caught Christian with the Sweet Chin Music out of left field, and got the match down to 2-on-1.  And Michaels continued to fight the good fight, managing to toss Randy Orton out of the ring, and then catching Jericho with a quick roll-up for another pinfall elimination.  This time, however, Michaels would pay the price: Jericho, livid, grabbed a steel chair and KO'ed HBK.  Slow to recover, Orton didn't immediately capitalize.  By the time he did, Michaels had had enough time to muster the energy to kick out at 2 and 99/100ths.  And the match continues yet again.  And when you figure it can't get any wilder:  ref bump.  Eric Bischoff and Steve Austin took that as the cue to get involved.  First, Austin stomped a mudhole in Bischoff, and then, he hit a Stunner on Orton.  When Bischoff tried to get involved again, Austin grabbed him, and brawled with him back to the entrance set.  But back in the ring, behind Austin's back, Batista had struck:  in from out of the crowd, Batista tagged Shawn with a rude powerbomb.  As the ref finally recovered, Orton had just enough in him to drape an arm over Michaels and get the pinfall win.  And just like that Randy Orton had once again pinned HBK and had also put the final nail in Steve Austin's WWE coffin.  [Can't say enough good about the way Michaels pulled off the final 10-15 minutes of this match.  Great, wild booking at the finish that put some final sizzle into the preceeding half-hour of tremendous ring work.  I continue to be baffled by the confidence WWE shows in Randy Orton, but at least they aren't doing anything half-way.  The ball is in Randy's court: the company has done everything right for him.  It's just up to him to show us something.  I do take some solace, however, in the fact that Jericho can also show up tomorrow night and take ample credit for Austin being gone.  His gratuitous chairshot on Michaels may be painted as the Difference Maker, if they choose.  I liked this match lots, and am also satisfactorily intrigued by the possibilities it presents for future storylines.]
  • After the match, we got an extended Farewell to Austin segment.  First, Austin helped the bloody and beaten Michaels to his feet and to the back.  No Stunners, no nothing, just helpful concern for a guy who had just busted ass and come up barely short in a great match.  Then Austin came back to the ring to say "Goodbye."  Actually, he wound up saying that even if he didn't like it, there was something appropriate about his career coming to an end in the same city it started: Dallas, TX.  And also, he said, "I love the shit out of you people."  But then, The Coach had had enough, and decided it was time to conduct his post-match interview.  To prevent any shennanigans, Coach was accompanied by five security guards.  Too bad Coach would have needed more like five hundred to keep Austin from going out on a high note...  once Coach made one jack-ass remark too many, Austin lashed out, easily dispatching the security guards before getting his hands on Coach for one final Stunner.  A couple of beers were drank, a couple of fingers were raised, and then Austin left the ring.  Ostensibly for the last time ever, though we all know better.  [I can sense others will probably rail on this as a waste of time, but unlike the Mark Cuban segment, this actually served a purpose, in my opinion.  It lent a bit of weight to the idea that Austin might actually be gone, and after the let-down of Team Bischoff winning, it gave fans the trademark Austin moment that they all wanted to see.  Coach is nothing if not a magnificent patsy, too.]
  • Vince McMahon beat Undertaker in their Buried Alive Match.  Much like the ambulance match, there is nothing too interesting to mention here except for two Moments of Note.  First, Vince McMahon, for some sick reason, decided he had to out-bleed Shawn Michaels.  Which I would have thought was impossible until I saw Vince leaving congealing pools of blood anywhere his head rested for more than 2 seconds.  Almost disgusting, actually.  But considering how few worthwhile wrestling moves they were doing, I guess it supplied the match with a certain gravity.  After about 8 minutes of Taker methodically (i.e. "slowly and uncreatively") pounding on Vince, they finally decided it was time to head to the burial plot located near the entrance set.  Vince actually briefly gained and edge by using handfuls of dirt to Taker's eyes and also using a shovel.  But Taker put an end to that rally awfully quickly, and very soon had Vince KO'ed in the bottom of the open grave.  Taker went to get into the giant forklift that would drop the dirt into the grave, but when he grabbed the door handle, a small explosion sent him tumbling back down.  And out of the forklift came Kane.  See, I told you so!  Kane worked Taker over and dumped him into the grave, as Vince got into the forklift.  With Kane mocking Taker's one-fist salute, Vince dropped a ton of dirt into the grave to win the match.  [As a match, this was absolutely worthless.  But it was also short enough to be painless, maybe around 10-12 minutes.  And the storyline implications are what you end up focusing on in the end, not the match.  Are Kane and Taker going at it again?  Does this tie into the idea that when Taker returns, it'll be as his old Dead Man self?  How does this potential cross-over affect the fact that Kane really should now be the #1 Contender on RAW?  A match that raises more questions than it answered...  there's a certain amount of value in that, I guess.]
  • Goldberg beat Triple H via pinfall to retain the World Title.  This match distilled down to one word:  Effective.  Didn't seem to have a whole lot of heat at the start, but by the end, had the arena rocking.  Goldberg started the match on offense, and annoyed the piss out of me by forgetting to sell the ankle until such time as it was required for the story of the match... which came at about the 4 minute mark, when Goldberg could not hold HHH over his head to complete a gorilla press slam because his ankle gave out.  From there, HHH took control with a mostly uninspired, by reasonably credible series of leg-based moves, culminating in an attempt to honor his mentor with a Figure Four.  Ric Flair was, for his part, helping out with various interference tactics.  Finally, when Goldberg decided it was time for his superman comeback, ref Earl Hebner was bumped, giving Flair, Orton, and Batista plenty of opportunities to interfere.  HHH even tried to introduce his sledge hammer, but Goldberg confiscated it before any damage could be done, and actually used it to put Orton and Batista down.  Then, when he had the chance to also take out HHH with the sledge, Goldberg got a look in his eye that said, "Pah!  I am Goldberg, the World's Most Dangerous Jew.  My weapon is my body!" and he threw the sledge out of the ring, nailed HHH with the Spear, and then followed up with the Jackhammer for the pinfall win at the 12 minute mark.  [The way Goldberg went through Evolution and then cleanly beat HHH without using the sledge was perfect.  And like I said, the best evidence of that is the way the crowd got into this one by the end.  Far from the best match of the night.  Far, FAR from it, actually.  But quite possibly the best choice for the last match of the night.  Even with HHH still seeming to be at less than full speed, this one did it's job very nicely, and leaves Goldberg positioned to field a new challenger after having dispatched Evolution in decisive fashion.]

On the whole:  I'm happy.  You had plenty of good action.  You had perfectly executed booking in most cases.  Even the spots that were lacking accomplished their goals.  The gimmick matches were not the over-long snoozefests I had feared.  The cross-overs lent a definite air of significance to the show, too, and both brands come out of Survivor Series with lot of options and wide open playing fields.

SD!'s got the slightly more obvious direction, what with Benoit in line to be Lesnar's next PPV challenger (I assume the burn Hardcore Holly's title shot on a Thursday night "Free-per-view" type show, and save Benoit vs. Lesnar for the Rumble) and Cena set to challenge Big Show.  RAW's got to address how Austin is re-introduced into storylines (you know he won't stay gone for more than a week or two, if that, what with RAW's ratings already flagging badly), and also has choices to make with regard to who'll challenge Goldberg.  Kane certainly was the obvious choice before the show, but now you might have cross-over considerations that limit Kane's use in a title feud on RAW.  They made a big, bold step with Randy Orton tonight, and he might be one option.  Jericho should never be too far away from the main event, either.  Should make for a fun couple of weeks.

Survivor Series gets a Thumbs Up from moi.  More fall-out and other news tomorrow in the regular OO column.


Rick Scaia is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.

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