Anyone following WWE programming for the last few months already knew the hook for the 2012 edition of Survivor Series well before the pay-per-view broadcast kicked off Sunday night from Madison Square Garden in New York City. The Rock was back, returning to an organization and a venue that meant a great deal to his career.
Paired with John Cena in a team that was billed as “Never before. Never again,” The Rock was set to take on attention-seeking heels The Miz and R-Truth in the show’s main event. Yet two big questions hung over the match: Would The Rock and Cena even attempt to co-exist peacefully? And would the WWE throw in any of the plot twists that have virtually become synonymous with the Survivor Series name over the years?
What unfolded was mostly straightforward, though the energetic fans at MSG put their own spin on the proceedings by ignoring the pre-arranged battle lines and choosing their own allegiances. The Rock and The Miz were cheered, while Cena was lustily booed (except by females and younger fans, as is now the norm).
The Rock and Miz locked up. Rock whipped out arm drags on both heels and rolled up Miz for a quick two count. Truth wanted a tag, and The Rock was happy to wave him in.
The first signs of tension between the two big names happened early, with The Rock bridging into a pin on Truth only to find no ref to make the count after Cena went after Miz. The fans didn’t like it, but The Rock accepted Miz’s request to tag in Cena, albeit with a hard tag that caught him in the face.
Despite a “You can’t wrestle!” chant ringing through the seats, Cena quickly gained the upper hand on Truth in an attempt to one-up his partner. Awesome Truth responded to the dissension by dominating the next five minutes of action, pummeling Cena in and out of the ring and forcing him to kick out of nine pinfall attempts.
Miz taunted The Rock while putting the boots to Cena. That bought Cena enough of a breather to get the STF locked in, though Truth came to the rescue of his mate. Cena connected with an Attitude Adjustment on R-Truth but found himself too drained to cover.
Rocky called for the tag but got knocked off the apron by Miz. Truth battered him on the floor as well. Awesome Truth hit a double flapjack on Cena for a two count but finally made a mistake when R-Truth’s theatrics got the best of him before a leg drop, letting Cena roll away.
Finally, The Rock got the hot tag. After a spinning DDT to Miz and a Rock Bottom on Truth, he clamped a Sharpshooter on Miz. Truth made the save just before getting speared to the floor by Cena.
Miz rained down left hands and boots on The Rock, but The Great One hopped up to deliver a Spinebuster. A People’s Elbow found its mark and put Awesome Truth away.
John Cena smirks behind The Rock’s back.
Cena applauded his partner from the ramp, but The Rock called him back into the ring. The two men tested out their differing crowd reactions for several minutes before winding up face to face, where The Rock sent Cena a physical message courtesy of a Rock Bottom.
No mixed messages came from the next biggest match on the card, a WWE Championship tilt between titleholder Alberto Del Rio and challenger CM Punk. Riding his continuing wave of popularity following his recent face turn, Punk pinned Del Rio clean, then jumped into the crowd to celebrate his new gold.
The next WWE pay-per-view is TLC on December 18.
Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and Booker T are ready to go, welcoming us to the 2012 edition of Survivor Series. And we start out with John Laurinaitis coming out to introduce himself by name and position. Um… thanks?
Match 1 – John Morrison (challenger) vs. Dolph Ziggler (champion) – United States Championship Match
Whoot! Whoot! Zack Ryder runs off Dolph Ziggler.
Vickie Guerrero gets involved early, as expected. The fans chant “We want Ryder.” Good action between these two as they work well together. Morrison hits a counter DDT that forces Vickie to put her man’s leg on the ropes to avoid getting pinned. Referee Charles Robinson ejects her from ringside, to her shrieking dismay. After an exchange of pinning predicaments, Ziggler hits the Fameasser, but Morrison kicks out. John maneuvers his way into position for Starship Pain, but Ziggler gets his knees up. A Zig Zag puts Morrison away and keeps the gold around Ziggler’s waist. Ziggler gets on the mic and says it’s not showing off if you can back it up. Real talk. The fans are still chanting for Zack Ryder. He runs to the ring and is met immediately by fists. Ryder eventually gets the upper hand and runs off Ziggler.
Winner… and still United States Champion… Dolph Ziggler at 10 minutes and 41 seconds.
Match Rating: 6.5/10
Match 2 – Eve Torres (challenger) vs. Beth Phoenix (champion) – Divas Championship Lumberjill Match
I confess that I don’t even know some of the lumberjills. I’ll give Eve credit for some submission wrestling as she slaps on a leg triangle. Natalya tries to intervene from the floor. Torres has thoughts of a moonsault, but Phoenix crotches her and meets her up top. Torres takes the Glam Slam off the middle rope, which is probably one of the cooler finishes I’ve seen in a WWE women’s match in… well, ever, maybe. Not sure what the point of the lumberjills was, though. At least the girls got their pay-per-view bonuses.
Winner… and still Divas Champion… Beth Phoenix at four minutes and 33 seconds.
Match Rating: 5/10 (mostly for the finish)
David Otunga has a message for CM Punk from Laurinaitis. He’d like Punk to do the professional thing and apologize to Michael Cole before taking on Alberto Del Rio tonight. CM says he’ll think about it, but not until after the match.
The fans start to get whipped into a frenzy as The Rock is on the microphone backstage. He talks about being at MSG as a kid watching his grandfather and father wrestle and hanging out with Andre the Giant. The Rock tries to sneak in a “WWF” reference, but the censor blanks it out. Rocky also recalls making his debut, complete with the worst ring attire and haircut ever. He runs through his history (and catchphrases) and warns Miz and R-Truth about boots to asses. The Rock turns his attention to John Cena and says he and his 17,000 fans will shove a lightning bolt right up Cena’s ovulating lady parts – his words, not mine. He does a little “New York, New York” and gets the fans to sing along.
Match 3 – Team Barrett (Wade Barrett, Jack Swagger, Dolph Ziggler, Hunico and Cody Rhodes) vs. Team Orton (Sheamus, Sin Cara, Kofi Kingston, Mason Ryan and Randy Orton) – Survivor Series Elimination Match
Mason Ryan demonstrates his raw power on Hunico.
No doubt tired from his previous match, Ziggler is eliminated less than two minutes in. Barrett tries to rally the troops, but Orton will have none of it. Kofi and Sin Cara attempt dual somersault sentons, but Sin Cara gets tangled on the ropes and appears to legitimately hurt himself. That puts him out of the match, and the fans chant for Ryder again. He’s not coming out folks. Just before the nine-minute mark, Rhodes puts away Ryan with the Cross Rhodes. Kingston gets his moment in the sun, unleashing kicks on all of the heels. But Barrett catches him with a big boot and hits the Wasteland, eliminating Kofi just after the 14-minute mark. Sheamus gets himself disqualified by not breaking a hold while Swagger is in the ropes. That leaves Orton alone, though Sheamus gets in a kick to Swagger before leaving. Orton pins Swagger to make it 3-on-1. Hunico goes for glory but springboards into an RKO and is sent packing after 21 minutes. With Rhodes serving as a distraction, Barrett is able to catch Orton with the Wasteland to win it for his team.
Winner: Team Barrett at 22 minutes and eight seconds.
Match Rating: 7/10
Del Rio discusses dinner plans with the Bella twins. Laurinaitis wants to make sure he’s taking his match with CM Punk seriously. Laurinaitis pulls out his phone, apparently to tweet about it. Not sure if you have noticed this or not, but the WWE is really digging Twitter right now. A. Whole. Lot.
Match 4 – Big Show (challenger) vs. Mark Henry (champion) – World Heavyweight Championship Match
The ring is getting extra reinforcements for this one. I’m not even lying. Some early body slams suggest that it’s holding up okay. Things quickly slow as Henry works over Show’s left knee. A huge “boring” chant rings through MSG, but Henry silences it by tackling Show through the barricade. SLAM! Wrestling VP of Information Technology (U.S. Division) Brian Whorl offers this thought: “Does everything need to be reinforced when these guys wrestle?” Henry looks for the superplex, but Show fights him off and delivers a superkick. Well, kind of an above-average-kick, not really super. Now Show goes up top. He drops the big elbow, but Henry kicks out. The fans get a “Randy Savage” chant going. Henry hits a blatant low blow, and Show wins by disqualification. Hmm… After the bell, Henry puts Show’s ankle in a chair again. But Big Show is able to slide his legs out of the way and clobber Henry with a big right hand. Is payback on Show’s mind? You bet. He drops a leg on Henry’s ankle while it’s in a chair.
Winner: Big Show at 13 minutes and three seconds (Henry retains his title).
Match Rating: 4/10
Barrett gets a backstage interview with Matt Striker. He claims that the Barrett Barrage is completely unstoppable. The Miz and R-Truth interrupt. Barrett bows out so that Awesome Truth can hijack the interview. Truth apparently asked some pigeons about tonight’s main event but got no response.
A video package sets up the title bout between Del Rio and Punk.
Match 5 – Alberto Del Rio (champion) vs. CM Punk (challenger) – WWE Championship Match
CM Punk is the new WWE champion.
Not to be outdone by Del Rio, Punk brings Howard Finkel as his personal ring announcer. The fans chant, “We want ice cream!” Good stuff. Punk diving between the ropes is also good stuff. Ricardo Rodriguez ticks off the challenger by interfering, but Del Rio slides out and takes it to Punk. Things are more even back in the ring, but Del Rio misses a jumping kick and flies through the ropes to hit the floor hard. Both men end up on the canvas as the fans try to will Punk to his feet. He emerges on top in a battle of strikes and gets a near fall with a neckbreaker. After some more two counts, Punk calls for the Go To Sleep only to be countered by two knees to the back. Del Rio gets up high for an enzuigiri and his own near fall, followed by another one thanks to an armbreaker. Punk looks for something off the top rope until he gets crotched. He does manage to move away when Del Rio charges in, leading with his shoulder. Punk does his Macho Man tribute by dropping the big elbow. He calls for the Go To Sleep again, but after a series of reversals, Del Rio applies the cross armbreaker. Punk manages to get to the ropes to break the hold. Punk’s running kick catches Rodriguez, and Del Rio rolls up the tights for two (showing off a lot more of Punk’s backside than I needed to see). More counters follow, but Del Rio ends up in the clutches of the Anaconda Vice. Del Rio tries grabbing Punk’s nose and mouth to escape but eventually is forced to tap. Punk jumps into the crowd to celebrate. Hey, a face won!
Winner… and new WWE Champion… CM Punk at 17 minutes and 20 seconds.
Match Rating: 8.5/10
A video package sets us up for the main event. That’s just in case you haven’t seen any WWE shows since WrestleMania or the first two hours of this very broadcast.
Main Event – Awesome Truth (The Miz and R-Truth) vs. John Cena and The Rock
Winners: John Cena and The Rock at 21 minutes and 30 seconds.
Match Rating: 7.5/10
Total Event Rating: 7/10
Nick Tylwalk didn’t have Dale Plummer to help him with this report but did get Dale to help him come up with the tagline to promote their partnership on PPV recaps: “Often before. Probably again.” Follow Nick on, yes, Twitter, at @Nick_Tylwalk.