Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Survivor Series Review

It's been awhile since I've done one of these, mostly because it's been awhile since I've thought this highly of a WWE pay per view. Survivor Series felt like old wrestling for a little while and its well worth talking about.

I love traditional Survivor Series matches. In the past this is when you would know exactly the cut and core of every performer presented and you could really get a sense of them. You know the standing in the company of the new and old performers and what to expect in the months prior to Wrestlemania. Lately it had been a story builder but it was very selective among 'major' stars with the traditional Survivor series matches being 'gimmicks' and not really story building blocks as they should be. And for the first time in a long time the entire show built a story, there wasn't really a throw away match, well except for the Divas match and they usually are. I noted that TNA can successfully split a show and a pay per view between male and female matches if they needed to. For most WWE events, with a few notable exceptions, women's matches are barely tolerable unless you do believe that emaciated women in hardly enough clothing is the peak of hot and from the crowds I've been in, even that is starting to not hold enough appeal. They're WRESTLING fans, they can get skinny tale from the E network to Vh1.

The first match was a dark match with Chavo Guerrero and Santino. This was a fun match for the most part. Chavo is always game it seems no matter the stitch and Santino, as usual, was doing his funny man thing. Something I really enjoy. Wrestling has the ability to have many faces with the need to try to appeal to such a large demographic these things are necessary. And if we're honest, they're fun. Technically very nice. Santino and Chavo are great wrestlers. I think in general most fans need to learn to appreciate these matches more, it's a great compliment to what came before.

The first match of the pay per view was the traditional Survivor Series match of Team Miz vs. Team Morrison. The new blood, Miz team concoction of Swagger, McIntyre, Sheamus, and Ziggler was very interesting especially versus the standard Team Morrison faction of Finlay, Bourne, Hardy, and Benjamin. This match came off as a changing of the guards so to speak. It became very obvious very quickly that this was set up to build McIntyre and Sheamus into prime time contenders. I was disappointed by the 'brushing off' of Ziggler, he's been a little slow on the rise but I think a little more time placed into him would benefit a lot of people. Hopefully they haven't given up on him. Evan Bourne is actually suffering from being too good in the ring and not good enough on the mic. Before wrestling became more showbiz that would've been more than enough to carry him but he's being lost in the shuffle. Literally I believe he is one GOOD rivalry away from hitting it. I've never really been sold on Swagger, there's just something about him that comes off as being uncomfortably fake and some of his in ring technique has left a lot to be desired. Regardless I think the ring tech can come later or people will adapt to him as they have to others. This guy needs to find a niche, something that is actually his to make him real. McIntyre still feels too much too soon. I don't think he's ready for what he's being given and I'm fearful that he'll blow up in their hands and man would that be a waste. You never know some great things have happened through the trial by fire method. Sheamus though I think is dead on track. You can't get much better than the seemingly 'natural' development he's had. Besides the surprising pin combinations, this was not a very innovative match, you had spots with unexpected outcomes but there was nothing truly shocking or mind blowing just the obvious tread that has to be laid to build new stars.

But this brings to mind that I really want to see more done with Matt Hardy and Shelton Benjamin. Current climate around them aside, you have this new talent and honestly there are not enough veterans to go around. Instead of risking losing a new prospect by having two war with one another these guys should be used further. Benjamin and Sheamus could've been more interesting, it did fall a little flat but that's a story build issue, the next thing you know Sheamus is on Raw (?).

Mysterio Batista played out pretty much the way I expected it too. No surprises there big man crush little man. No thought just base brutality. While it didn't appeal to me apparently DC loved it which was also not a surprise. Failed attempt to further vilify a heel. Remember locale does count. First your heel is a hero of the place. Then you're talking about a location that is becoming increasingly inundated with a particular population that it has never truly had to deal with, they are not going to be sympathetic to Rey Mysterio who is being viewed as a 'graspy' stealing betraying sort by the way the very storyline was plotted. Worst match of the night, but not because of the performers they were given a bad lot to tread.

Can I say I love where Kofi is going. Months ago when Kofi became the US champ I told people, he's great, he's fun, and entertaining, he's not championship material. As that incarnation of Kofi Kingston he wasn't. The put on Jamaican accent and character defining was killing him. I don't know who made the move to make Kofi more of who he actually is but this is the best thing that has been done in a long time. The energy around him is addictive. Night and day. His team benefitted from that. MVP and Mark Henry are in a good place. They aren't mainliners but they aren't being shunted to the side either. Why, because when they come into the picture they are still treated as viable threats. R-Truth is still one of the most underutilized assets the WWE has, he is another good prospect for a new blood rivalry and I really wanted to see where he would go with McIntyre. Although I believe something magical would happen with a Dolph Ziggler.

CM Punk is mouthy but does anyone really believe that he actually matches up personality wise to R-Truth? My issue is that it seems like R-Truth is always being bottled. Not truly stuffed but not at the full weight of what he can bring. I don't think CM Punk is the person that can do that for him. I think this rivalry will leave R-Truth where he is and actually sink Punk. Christian is ECW champion, Christian can be and should be World or WWE champion and it's getting pretty annoying that he isn't in the hunt. Cody and Ted are chugging along at an impressive rate, I'm always entertained by Legacy and always impressed with their ringwork. Steven Regal is an underappreciated legend. I was so annoyed listening to some of the newer fans around me talk about his lack of validity. They have no idea of what they speak or who in the hell they are talking about. Randy Orton is Randy Orton I don't think he can do any wrong. Fun fun match. It moved well and some of the pin attempts and combinations were truly inspired. It was a shakeup ending. Listening to everyone around me, no one expected Kofi to pull it out at the end so it made it all that much sweeter when he did.

Chris Jericho IS the best in the world at what he does, I've always believed it and Survivor Series was no different. I commented to people on several occasions that I was so very happy that they let Big Show carry this role. To me it seemed obvious that the path Jerishow is taking was originally done with the idea that it would be Rated Jericho. For the most part all of the moves that Show has taken are characterwise Edge moves. But with Edge getting injured and Show taking over I thought the path that they would take would be altered but I don't think it has been very much and that is awesome for Show. It still amazes me, the reception Undertaker gets. I've seen them many times over now and still I sit and look around at the crowd in awed fascination. Sunday night the seats shook, the rafters echoed, chanting Undertaker. And out he comes like this nightmare made flesh, the smoke the slow methodical trek to the ring, if you're really paying attention it's chilling. It was a good match between the three of them, not the most entertaining three way of the night, but it pulled the fans in, solid work, no big surprises but good wrestling.

The Divas match wasn't bad. Loved the opening Gail Kim McCool match up as Gail showed some of that fire that she's known for despite McCool. Love what Beth Phoenix does period. Really irritated by the tool armada behind me that insisted on going with the lemming view of Mickie James being fat so I went to get a beer instead of berating them as I saw fit. I love fat people that insist on calling none fat people fat. But I was annoyed because that made me miss Alicia Fox who has been impressing me to no end lately. That one can do a lot if she sticks to her guns and continues to perform at a higher caliber. Its' unfortunate to consider it this way but I was watching a match of hers and had the thought, 'she wrestles like a dude'. That was the thing, there was a time in the WWE where you didn't have to make that distinction, because they wrestled but now you see the difference and that disturbs me.

Okay they got me. Freakin Shawn Michaels and Triple H got me. Everybody comes out, bell rings, superkick to Triple H. That was fantastic, I've never heard a collective crowd reaction that intense, that quick and that flabbergasted. And then they loved him for it. Outstanding match, best of the evening as far as I'm concerned. Which is a lot for me, I'm usually down on John Cena. But somewhere between his ironman match with H on Raw before his Ironman match with Randy something changed for the better. There really is no reason for Cena to improve himself accept for personal respect and pride. From my perspective that finally kicked in. Like them or hate them Shawn Michaels and Triple H are very good at this. Besides Undertaker they get the best crowd reactions, and have the best matches. This isn't opinion from my point of view, this is fact. They mapped out some crazy maneuver and switches with the two of them and Cena. It wasn't a triple threat match all of the time but the times that it was were well done. I only saw one truly tangible 'whoops' considering. But it isn't just about the ring proficiency, it's ironic because level of ring proficiency can kill a match or it can elevate it. But if the level of overall performance, character feel, crowd appeal, is in place you can do anything just about and it still feels like a good match to the people watching. Entertainment is a feeling not a logical outcome.

As a fan I'm concerned about the excessive pay per views, it makes the WWE creative team appear impatient. I realize that like with any company or business sometimes different entities within the structure have different goals and it's difficult to fully realize your goals and do what the boss wants, it’s a constant juggling of personalities, finance and logistics. Catch twenty two of anything. But some of the goals should be altered if they are enabling quality people to be lost in the shuffle. I know of no other successful company that doesn't use all of its assets fully.

This is a relatively ungauged industry. Currently the WWE sets the bar for success, that's the beauty of creating your own product with a wide ranging market. The downside is without an actual competitive market there is no way to gauge success. When there was the WWE almost lost and if the competition hadn't exploded from within, they would've. I support the win, the ruling faction of WCW was after annihilation not friendly competition. But its bad business to sink the competition, just let them meander somewhere away from you to show your product's worth. While I don’t' believe TNA has yet to actually become a market threat, I've heard enough direct comparisons to the TNA product at WWE events to wonder if that is just one small push away. As soon as WM24 which was in Orlando, I heard direct comparisons to TNA that were in favor of the WWE. The one thing that has changed is the bent of the comparisons because now they are TNA favorable.

I sit among the masses and with most things sometimes the people involved are much too close to the thing. They end up having no idea what is actually going on, just the part of the machine they see. This goes for fans as well as the industry itself. Everyone sees exactly what they want to in terms they can negotiate and understand. I think the WWE would be benefitted by a group of people like me. Just people that are fans that have been for a long time and have a good sense of gauging the reactions of other fans. I know they have focus groups and people on payroll that do this but how objective can they really be at this stage of the game? Someone like me has very little to gain by expressing an opinion, really I just have the threat of ridicule by the very people I watch and my peers. But I LOVE this and that makes me desire to see it at its best. You can do polls and you can rate the market by purchasing, but how do you rate that moment when someone comes out, the crowd during a match, the commentary from the not so cheap seats as it were, the true feelings of the people? That would be an interesting and profitable code to crack.