This PPV sold potentially record buys as soon as The Rock was booked to wrestle again for the first time in years, and so the worked build aside, this PPV is one of the most anticipated in recent memory. The ‘Never Before, Never Again’ tagline is also exciting, and one that, for once, we know will probably ring true. It’s a pretty strong card for the show too, and eventhough there’s shamefully only one traditional Survivor Series match on the card, it’s a strong traditional Survivor Series match, so no real complaints can be had. If there is to be another match on the card, it will be another traditional Survivor Series match, and I would like to see Team Bryan (Bryan, DiBiase, Ezekiel Jackson and the Usos) against Team Otunga (Otunga, McIntyre, Primo & Epico, and mystery opponent, Brodus Clay). Clay and Jackson should probably feud, even if it would be probably horrible.
Match 1) World Heavyweight Championship Match: Mark Henry (c) vs The Big Show
There has undeniably been very effective build for this match of late. I couldn’t post on Smackdown this week, but I was impressed at the intensity between Henry and Big Show that was created by a more raw approach to production (the cold open etc), despite the fact that they didn’t actually confront each other. As with love, in sports entertainment, absence makes the heart (or the build) grow fonder. After Ringageddon II (when they broke a ring), they can only push the shock and brutality bar higher, so given thet their monster vs monster matches have been of a high quality anyway, I think we can expect an explosive opener from these two. As for the outcome, while it isn’t inconceivable that Show could win, I can’t see it happening. Henry is so over as champion that it would be strange to take it away from him, and meanwhile, he and Daniel Bryan seem to be preparing for a WrestleMania match or at least a Money in the Bank angle, which of course requires Henry to be champion. I certainly don’t want Show to win anyway as he’s about 10% as interesting the World’s Strongest Man.
Winner: Mark Henry
Match 2) United States Championship Match: Dolph Ziggler (c) vs John Morrison
In contrast to the last match’s build, the build to this match has been strange and almost non-existent. It seemed destined that Zack Ryder would get the title shot after the repeated victories over Ziggler and the most successful twitter petition in history, or perhaps that Mason ‘Wednesday Night Football’ Ryan would get a shot on the back of his successes over Ziggler and his big big muscles. Instead, Morrison, who has beaten Ziggler once, but less prominently than the others is the one to get the shot. The fact that he’s apparently so much less deserving than Ryder makes for interesting and unpredictable booking. I wouldn’t be surprised, for instance, to see Ryder added in to the match somehow and win the whole thing. If not though, and it stays the same, it’s interesting to see these reports of Morrison leaving WWE in a matter of weeks. Usually that would make his loss a lock, but then why elevate him from a losing streak at this point? Could his being pulled from WWE events all be a work? That seems a little unbelievable to me, though it would be some pretty sweet manipulation. Perhaps Morrison will be out there to be humiliated, on the other hand; it really is quite an enigmatic match to preview. Whatever happens, Ziggler has been gold in everything he’s done – part of the reason I see him keeping the title – and is one of the few people so good at selling that Morrison actually looks dangerous against him. That, mixed with the enigmatic nature of the booking, makes for a memorable match. For now, Ryder almost seems like a successor to the US title, and until he challenges for it, Ziggler will keep enriching the title.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler
Match 3) Divas Championship Match: Beth Phoenix (c) vs Eve Torres
The build for this match has been baffling, and as a result, I am kinda baffled as to how to predict this match. On Smackdown, Natalya was dominant against AJ, and that helped remove us from an almost surreal state of flux between the divas currently and returned us to the simpler, more profound battle between dominant, self-righteous divas, and fun-loving, modelesque divas. Maybe the storyline needs a bit of a reboot – such as the one afforded by a title change. Nonetheless, it kinda seems like WWE are treading water with this at the moment, and with Alicia Fox apparently waiting in the wings for a shot, I’ve decided to plump for another defense from Phoenix. My apathy, however, doesn’t mean this will necessarily be a bad match; obviously Beth can bring it in the ring and Eve has often worked as a good foil with Beth in the ring.
Winner: Beth Phoenix
Match 4) WWE Championship Match: Alberto Del Rio (c) vs CM Punk
I really enjoyed how CM Punk got this match, manipulating Johnny Ace’s ruling that Del Rio himself had to agree to a match if one was to take place. After Del Rio had earlier intentionally cost Punk a #1 Contendership, it was only fair that Punk return the favour, and so instead of getting Del Rio to agree to a title match, he got him to submit to one using the Anaconda Vice. Since then, the physical tension between the two has grown well with backstage attacks and timely meetings in the ring, but verbally, it may have fallen a little. Del Rio is very disagreeable for sure, but he can also be rather one-dimensional at times; and though Punk has forwarded some nice reality-based material with Del Rio (about his promo skills), he’s often not been able to engage with Del Rio on his own witty, eloquent level because Del Rio’s grasp of the language is still imperfect (a good point well made by friend and wannabe nWo member, Jacob Kerray) and he can’t engage Punk on that level. The problem isn’t that bad for Del Rio. As I say, he is endlessly disagreeable, and mixed with his subtle facial reactions and ticks, he is one of the best antagonists for babyfaces there are, but once he comes up against Punk, his not quite fluency is a little damaging. As for the match, on paper at least, it would possibly be the most mouth-watering wrestling prospect on any wrestling card, and it certainly is on this card. Given the time, this could be spectacular. I am pretty sure, however, that we will see a Del Rio retention, though certainly not a squeaky clean one. The reason is this, RAW comes back to Chicago after the TLC PPV for the first time since that hot summer night where wrestling near-perfection was witnessed, and I imagine a Punk homecoming as champion being all the more impactful if its the night after the victory. The problem with that is how to get Punk another shot at TLC, but this is wrestling, where logic and narrative are blissfully malleable, so it’s not that big of a problem. I guess it would make sense for Kevin Nash to cost Punk the championship, but that might cause some eye-rolling too is not done in any interesting way – from me as much as anyone else. It’ll be good for the WWE Championship that Del Rio’s reign last a little longer and make it a decent one (us of course conveniently forgetting Cena’s joke of a reign half way through). Yes, Del Rio’s not been perfect, but he has been good, and he deserves the ball for a while longer anyway.
Winner: Alberto Del Rio
Match 5) Team Orton (Randy Orton, Sheamus, Mason “5 Items or Fewer” Ryan, Sin Cara & Kofi Kingston vs Team Barrett (Wade Barrett, Cody Rhodes, Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger & Hunico)
There’s not much to say about the action of this match. It’ll certainly be exciting, and has some awesome wrestlers involved (Speaking of which, how impressive is it that Ziggler is doing double duty for the second straight PPV! Has anyone ever done double-double-duty before?). I expect this to be a highlight, even if it’s difficult to say exactly how because of the chaotic nature of the match. My prediction is equally uninspired. I’m going for the babyfaces for the simple reason that pretty much all of my other predictions are for the heels, and this will provide a bit of balance to that, especially given that it’s one of the main events of the night.
Winners: Team Orton
Match 6) The Rock & John Cena vs The Miz & R-Truth
I know I haven’t been unilaterally positive about The Rock since he ‘returned’, but there is absolutely no denying that “The People’s Champ” returning to the ring alongside “The Champ” John Cena is absolutely must-see (indeed, i’m skeptical about anyone who says otherwise)! I have absolutely no idea how this match is going to go. The Rock c. 2011 is a very different beast to The Rock c.2001, with ‘beast’ being the operative word, while Miz and Truth are yet to have really memorable PPV main events. The one thing we can expect for the match is a lot of time, and a lot of thought. WWE is often criticised for flying by the seat of its pants booking-wise, but you have to think that, with a WrestleMania match in mind, and the time of Rock in hand, they will be a bit more careful about booking for a meaningful feud to the big event in Miami. So I expect a good, memorable match here, and I hope for a memorable win for The Awesome Truth. That’s right, i’m backing the largely ignored heels for this match! That doesn’t mean they’re centre-stage though. Think about it – Rock and Cena tagging together is a vehicle to build to their Mania match, and the best way to wrench the tension is to have them cost each other the match. Seriously, if Rock and Cena win, what will we go away with – the feeling that Rock and Cena don’t really hate each other that much? That’s the opposite of what’s needed. The benefit is that Miz and Truth get massive feathers in their hats. I expect the faces to be booked very strong, but for the heels to take advantage of their differences, just as Miz did at WrestleMania 27. Perhaps Rock has Truth in a Sharpshooter, but Cena pulls him off and goes for an STF. They trade finishers and feud over the cover until Truth recovers and he and Miz hit a Little Jimmy’s Finale for the shock win.
Winners: The Miz & R-Truth