If one word could be used to sum up Sunday’s 23rd edition of Survivor Series, it would have to be “cluttered.” While the November pay-per-view has a long tradition of five-on-five elimination matches, singles wrestling was almost entirely absent from this year’s card.

The lone one-on-one encounter, between former friends Rey Mysterio and Batista, ended quickly and without a pinfall. Both world titles were on the line later on in the night, but they were both contested in three-way matches, and neither changed hands.

To its credit, the WWE creative team layered multiple subplots onto the traditional Survivor Series matches, one of which furthered the excellent feud between rising star Kofi Kingston and top heel Randy Orton. But whether it was the nature of the multi-person matches or not, nothing before the main event seemed to really bring the crowd at Washington, D.C.’s Verizon Center to life.

In that main event, John Cena essentially took on DX in a Triple Threat match for the WWE title. Any notions that this was going to be a de facto handicap match were super kicked through the ropes when Shawn Michaels hit Sweet Chin Music on Triple H, sending him to the arena floor.

Cena took advantage of the one-on-one situation by trying for the Attitude Adjustment, but HBK countered it into a DDT. Michaels kept the pressure on with a chop block to the back of the knee, then followed with a figure four leg lock. Cena broke the hold and rolled to the floor. HBK dove over the ropes, crashing into Cena.

On the outside, HBK tore apart the announce table, but Cena got the upper hand and looked for the AA. Hunter made the save, only to slam HBK through the table, taking him out of the match for a period of time.

Back in the ring, Hunter worked over the champ with hard Irish whips. Hunter looked for the Pedigree, but Cena countered into a catapult that sent his foe into the turnbuckle. Cena charged in but got rammed into the ringpost, allowing Hunter and Shawn to have some one-on-one time.

Hunter connected with a high knee. Both men traded blows and hit the mat. HBK nipped up but walked right into a spinebuster. Hunter went for the Pedigree, but HBK countered into a backdrop. Michaels climbed the turnbuckle, but a recovered Cena cut him off. The champ then went high risk, but HHH was able to roll away from the leg drop, allowing HBK to drive an elbow into the heart of the champ.

Hunter knocked his partner from the ring but got tripped up by a drop toe hold. Cena locked in an STF. Hunter crawled for the ropes, but HBK made the save by locking in a crossface on the champ. Cena powered out of the hold by standing up. The champ looked for an AA, but HBK was able to slide out of it.

Cena went back to the STF after dropping HBK with the toe hold. HBK was able to grab the ropes to break the hold. HBK struck with Sweet Chin Music, first to Cena and then to his DX partner. HBK fell out of the ring as a knocked out Hunter fell onto Cena. The ref started the count, but Cena was able to get a shoulder up.

The champ finally connected on the Attitude Adjustment, and crawled to a cover with HBK. Both men got a hand on HHH, but Hunter was able to kick out before the three count.

The finale of the match was a flurry of reversals and counters. Hunter was superkicked by Michaels, who was then picked up by the champ and dropped with the Attitude Adjustment onto HHH. HBK fell from the ring, and Cena covered Hunter to retain the title.

The next WWE pay-per-view is TLC on December 13th.

If you’ve been with us for the past few years, you know the drill by now. Nick’s comments will be in plain type with Dale’s remarks in italics.

Matt Hardy is perhaps enjoying The Miz’s attention a bit too much. Photo by Mike Mastrandrea

Team Miz (The Miz, Drew McIntyre, Dolph Ziggler, Sheamus, and Jack Swagger) vs. Team Morrison (John Morrison, Matt Hardy, Evan Bourne, Shelton Benjamin, and Finlay) — Survivor Series Elimination Match

I’d really like to know if there is some kind of training academy for Scottish and Irish wrestlers that I don’t know about. I want to know where they find guys like Sheamus and McIntyre. Ziggler, Bourne and Finlay are eliminated in roughly the first five minutes, setting up an extended period of action between Morrison and Swagger. Morrison finally prevails, but sees teammates Benjamin and Hardy taken out next, leaving him all alone. It’s set up for former partners Miz and Morrison to face off, but I suppose Sheamus’ push is more important, as he uses a crucifix powerbomb to finish off Morrison. The fans in D.C. didn’t really seem to dig this opener too much, and I can’t say I blame them.

Winner … Team Miz (Survivors: Sheamus, Drew McIntyre, and The Miz) at 20 and 48 seconds.

Match Rating: 4/10

Christian wants to address the differences between him and his teammates Kofi Kingston, M.V.P., R-Truth and Mark Henry. Is it because he’s Canadian? No, it’s because he is the only superstar from ECW. Christian wants to show that Canadians are good rappers. Um, no.

I disagree. I’m calling Christian so we can collaborate on a song I’m calling “Maple Leaf State of Mind.” What’s up? Meanwhile, I just missed the video package explaining the feud between Rey Mysterio and Batista.

Rey Mysterio vs. Batista

Well, it’s not really surprising that this is a squash since Rey needs time off for injuries. Three Batista Bombs later, the ref decides he’s seen enough and calls for the bell. Mysterio can’t continue, but he can continue to take damage to his back. Dave gives him a spinebuster on a chair as a going-away present. It is almost the holiday season after all.

Winner … Batista at six minutes and 50 seconds.

Match Rating: 5/10

Orton “inspires” his troops. He isn’t happy Regal isn’t the new ECW champ, Punk isn’t the current champ, and he’s very disappointed in Legacy. Punk takes a verbal jab at Orton, who responds by saying they can change everything tonight.

Team Orton plots strategy. Photo by Mike Mastrandrea

Team Orton (CM Punk, William Regal, Ted DiBiase, Cody Rhodes, and Randy Orton) vs. Team Kingston (M.V.P., Mark Henry, Christian, R-Truth, and Kofi Kingston) — Survivor Series Elimination Match

An early RKO eliminates Mark Henry less than a minute into a match. CM Punk hits the GTS on R-Truth, and Team Kingston goes down two. Team Kingston gets one back when DiBiase is rolled up by Christian. M.V.P. evens the score with the elimination of William Regal. M.V.P. connects with the Ballin’ Elbow, but an Orton distraction stops the Playmaker, and Rhodes hits Cross Rhodes to pin and eliminate M.V.P. Kofi quickly leaps in and nearly scores a pin with a roll-up. Christian tags in, and it pays off with as he hits the Killswitch on Rhodes to get the pin. Orton looks for the RKO, but Christian counters into the Killswitch. Punk breaks up the pin, saving Orton. Christian runs into the ringpost as Orton dodges him, and then Orton hits the RKO to eliminate Christian. Orton tags in Punk, wanting no part of Kingston. Kofi fights out of the GTS and narrowly misses hitting Trouble in Paradise. Punk tires to take advantage of an Orton distraction by rolling Kingston up, but Kofi reverses it and gets the pin. Orton jumps in and is immediately hit with Trouble in Paradise. Kofi covers for the win.

Winner … Team Kingston (Survivor: Kofi Kingston) at 20 minutes and 40 seconds.

Match Rating: 7/10

Chris Jericho (challenger) vs. The Big Show (challenger) vs. The Undertaker (champion) — Triple Threat World Heavyweight Title Match

The Big Show grabs his partner Chris Jericho. Photo by Mike Mastrandrea

These three men bring an impressive amount of gold to the ring, but only Undertaker’s belt is on the line in this bout. Jericho and Show team up immediately to put a beating on the Dead Man, but he gathers himself and starts dishing out punishment until the action moves to the floor, where he lands awkwardly on the retaining wall. Show gets taken out and Jericho has the Undertaker in trouble thanks to a superplex and the Walls of Jericho. Show returns after ‘Taker escapes and tries for a chokeslam that is countered by a DDT. Jericho brings one of his belts into the ring and takes a swing, but — surprise, surprise — the shot hits Big Show instead. Undertaker drops Jericho with a big boot and lifts him for the Last Ride, but Jericho uses the belt correctly this time and knocks the Phenom down for a near fall. Undertaker recovers and looks for a Tombstone, but a revived Show drops him with a big right hand. Jericho scrambles to make the pin and sees Show return the favor a few seconds later. Show tosses Jericho off of him on a Codebreaker attempt and turns his lights out with a right hand. He wants to chokeslam the champ, but Undertaker counters into the Hell’s Gate. Big Show struggles for a few seconds but eventually taps out. Not horrible, but these guys are capable of better. Okay, maybe not Big Show.

Winner … and still World Heavyweight Champion … The Undertaker…at 13 minutes and 39 seconds.

Match Rating: 6/10

The WWE could set up a backstage interview segment with just about anyone, one would think, so naturally we get… the winning members of Team Miz. I dig those accents on Sheamus and McIntyre, but that’s about it.

Team McCool (Layla, Beth Phoenix, Alicia Fox, Jillian Hall and Michelle McCool) vs. Team James (Gail Kim, Kelly Kelly, Eve, Melina, and Mickie James)

Kelly Kelly eliminates Layla with a leg drop. McCool takes out Kim with her finishing move. Eve takes out Jillian and is promptly eliminated by Beth Phoenix. Kelly Kelly steps in and is quickly dispatched by Phoenix. Mickie James pins Phoenix with a crucifix pin. James then pins Alicia Fox with a Thesz press off the top rope. Melina hits her flip powerbomb and covers for the win.

What did you think of Survivor Series?
It was great – 14%
It was okay – 22%
It sucked – 17%
Didn’t see it – 47%

I tried really hard to get Gail Kim’s attention at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony earlier this year and failed miserably. What’s that got to do with this match? Absolutely nothing, but I was kind of bummed she didn’t get more ring time in this match.

Winner … Team James (Survivors: Mickie James and Melina) at 10 minutes and 38 seconds.

Match Rating: 3/10

Josh Matthews aims a little higher with this interview segment, trying to get an explanation from Batista for wrecking his former best friend without — gasp! — even trying for a pin. Dave answers Josh’s question with his own question, “Didn’t Rey Mysterio get embarrassed in the ring tonight?” Then he cryptically adds that he was embarrassed for Rey. Josh looks puzzled, but that’s not unusual for him.

Shawn Michaels (challenger) vs. Triple H (challenger) vs. John Cena (champion) — Triple Threat WWE Title Match

Winner … and still WWE Champion … John Cena at 21 minutes and 13 seconds.

Match Rating: 7.5/10

Total Event Time: two hours and 46 minutes

Event Rating: 5.5/10