Madison Square Garden – New York City, NY – Sunday, November 20, 2011
Michael Cole, Hall of Famer Jerry Lawler, and Booker T are on commentary.
United States Champion Dolph Ziggler (w/ Vickie Guerrero) defeats John Morrison at 10:42 to retain the title. Ziggler has been the Champion since 6.19.11, and this is his fifth defense. Both champion and challenger cut a fast pace as the crowd chants “We Want Ryder!” Guerrero interferes to help her man take control. She interferes once too often though and the referee kicks her out of the arena. It doesn’t matter though, as Morrison goes for Starship Pain and Ziggler gets his knees up. One Zig-Zag later and Ziggler retains the U.S. Title. After the match, Zack Ryder comes out and attacks Ziggler, running him off. One must wonder why they wouldn’t just put Ryder in the match if they were going to do that after. As for the match, it was a good opener, as Ziggler and Morrison have historically worked well together.
Divas Champion Beth Phoenix (w/ Natalya) defeats Eve Torres in a Lumberjill Match at 4:33 to retain the title. Phoenix has been the Champion since 10.2.11, and this is her second defense. Torres is fired up to start, but she is forced to fight off the Lumberjills and that momentary distraction allows Phoenix to take control. When Torres makes her big comeback, she goes up top for the Moonsault but Phoenix pops up and knocks her down. Phoenix then brings Torres down with a Super Glam Slam, which is more than enough to get the pin. They didn’t get much time to work with here, but they did a fine job with what they had. The finish looked great.
Team Barrett (Wade Barrett, Cody Rhodes, Jack Swagger, Dolph Ziggler & Hunico) defeat Team Orton (Randy Orton, Kofi Kingston, Sheamus, Sin Cara & Mason Ryan) at 21:56 in a Survivor Series Elimination Tag Team Match. Ziggler is working double duty tonight, replacing Christian on Team Barrett. Rhodes is the current Intercontinental Champion, and Kingston is one of the WWE Tag Team Champions. Orton strikes first with an RKO on Ziggler to eliminate him at 1:30. The match breaks down and Sin Cara botches a dive to the floor and legit injures his knee, so he’s eliminated at about 3:30. Team Barrett takes the advantage when Rhodes hits Ryan with Cross-Rhodes to eliminate him at 8:50. Kingston is next to go when Barrett catches him with Wasteland to get the pin at 14:20. Sheamus tries to help put his team in a better spot, but when he’s kneeing Swagger in the head he ignores the referee’s five-count and gets himself disqualified at 18:30. That leaves Orton at a four-on-one disadvantage. Sheamus delivers a Brogue Kick to Swagger on his way out, and Orton takes advantage with a pin on Swagger at 19:35. Hunico tries a springboard maneuver but Orton catches him in an RKO out of the air to eliminate him at 21:30. Just as Orton gets to his feet, Barrett hits him with Wasteland to score the winning pin. I liked that for the most part but several of the eliminations came too close together, and some were weak. Sin Cara’s was a bummer, but Sheamus’ they have no excuse for. But to me, Survivor Series matches are like James Bond movies – I even like the bad ones.
Big Show defeats World Heavyweight Champion Mark Henry by disqualification at 13:05. Henry has been the Champion since 9.18.11, and this is his fifth defense. Show is the aggressor early on, but Henry survives and attacks Show’s knee. When they spill to the floor Henry delivers a shoulder tackle that breaks the barrier and leaves Show laid out. Show makes it back to the ring, and within minutes he climbs to the top rope and delivers a big flying elbow! That’s insane, and it only gets a two-count. Show loads up the WMD and Henry kicks him square in the nuts for the disqualification. This was going along just fine, with both men working hard and busting out all kinds of crazy offense, and then the lame DQ just killed it dead.
CM Punk defeats WWE Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio (w/ Ricardo Rodriguez) at 17:15 to win the title. Del Rio has been the Champion since 10.2.11, and this is his second defense. Punk counters Ricardo Rodriguez with his own personal ring announcer – WWE Hall of Famer Howard Finkel! Seems like using Fink was a good call, as Punk looks dominant in the early going. Del Rio needs Rodriguez to interfere to take the advantage, and he zeroes in on the arm. The momentum swings back and forth, with Del Rio staying focused on the arm no matter what. At one point Punk hits an elbow from the top rope, and somehow it’s less graceful than the one hit by Big Show in the previous match. Late in the match Punk kicks Rodriguez off the apron, and Del Rio almost gets the pin with a schoolboy rollup. Punk hits a roundhouse kick for two, and then grabs the Anaconda Vise to get the tap out and kick off a historic title reign. This was a very good but not great match, with Del Rio’s arm work giving it good focus, and Punk timing his comebacks perfectly, as he usually does. The Anaconda Vise kind of came out of nowhere, but I like putting over a move as deadly like that.
John Cena & The Rock defeat Awesome Truth (The Miz & R-Truth) at 21:32. Rock starts the match and dominates, surprising his opponents and drawing a “You Still Got It” chant from the crowd. This is his first match since WrestleMania XX, so it’s been almost eight years since he’s been in a ring. New York City loves The Rock, not so much John Cena. Seems like they picked the right horse, since Cena finds himself under the Awesome Truth’s thumb, getting worked over in their half of the ring. Cena gets several hope spots, all well-timed, and the crowd loses their collective mind when Rock finally gets the hot tag. Rock comes in a house afire, hitting all his signature moves. Cena takes care of R-Truth, tackling him to the floor, leaving Rock and Miz alone in the ring. Rock delivers the Spinebuster and the People’s’ Elbow to get the win. This was basically Cena and Rock against two warm bodies, but they followed the tag team formula well enough to keep the crowd into it, resulting in a fun overall experience. It also worked as a prelude to the WrestleMania XXVIII main event, putting even more heat on that.
This is a fun show. While nothing stands out as great, everything served a purpose or had some significance attached to it. I wish there had been more Survivor Series elimination matches, but they made up for that by having Rock on the card, which is always fun.