WWE Survivor Series 2013 Results: Best and Worst Booking Decisions from PPV
The 2013 Survivor Series has come and gone and in its wake, it has left more questions than answers.
Unfortunately, many of those questions surround booking decisions that were made throughout the broadcast.
The WWE Championship match, which saw Randy Orton successfully defend his title against Big Show, is one that will go down in history. Of course, it will be for all the wrong reasons, but at least it was memorable.
Which is not something that can be said for the event as a whole.
CM Punk and Daniel Bryan defeated the Wyatt Family's Luke Harper and Erick Rowan in a solid, if unspectacular tag match, while Big E Langston defeated Curtis Axel to retain the Intercontinental Championship.
Two matches kept the tradition of Survivor Series alive, somewhat, in elimination tag matches.
Natalya and Nikki Bella secured the victory for the Total Divas by knocking off Team AJ Lee when Natalya forced a tapout with the Sharpshooter, potentially earning herself a shot at the Divas Championship in the process.
In the night's opening contest, The Shield's Roman Reigns wrecked the competition, eliminating four of his team's five opponents on his own.
Now that you know the results, find out if they were the right ones and, if they were not, how they could potentially affect the company in the days, weeks and months ahead.
Best: Roman Reigns Destroys the Competition
One of the most common complains from WWE fans is that the company focusing so much attention on a select handful of talent adversely affects its ability to properly groom young talent for top spots in the company.
It sure felt like the company was strapping a rocket to the back of The Shield's Roman Reigns and preparing him for a liftoff that would take him straight to the top of the company Sunday night when he single-handedly eliminated four extraordinarily talented wrestlers en route to scoring a victory for his team.
Reigns was a beast in the match, exploding off the mat with spear after spear and eliminating every opponent that crossed him. Especially impressive was the spear to Rey Mysterio, which closely resembled a Mack truck running over a Prius.
In one night, Reigns went from being the understated, quiet member of The Shield to a ferocious beast capable of tearing through any and everyone put in front of him. Confronted with a situation where the numbers game was against him, he soundly defeated two future Hall of Famers without much trouble.
It was a star-making performance by Reigns, who was presented with an opportunity by the booking team and made the absolute best of it.
Worst: Dean Ambrose's Quick Elimination
If the plan was to have Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins survive until late in the match, why no have Dean Ambrose join his Shield teammates? Why waste the extraordinarily talented young performer, not to mention the current United States champion, in the first minute of the match?
The rapid elimination would have been acceptable if it had come at the hands of a potential challenger for Ambrose's title, but it did not. It came at the hands of Cody Rhodes, who, despite having a proven track record as a successful singles wrestler, is enjoying a spectacular Tag title reign with brother Goldust at this point.
Yes, the elimination of the Internet favorite was shocking and started the match off with a bang, but it may have come at the expense of the talent himself.
It should be interesting to see if the company has a plan for Ambrose, who has been floating around aimlessly in recent weeks while Reigns and Rollins have been embroiled in a multiple-team feud over the WWE Tag Team Championship.
Best: JoJo the Underdog
The booking for rookie Diva JoJo in the huge seven-on-seven elimination tag match was fun and echoed back to the early days of the 123 Kid.
The undersized rookie taking on the larger, more experienced Tamina seemed like it would make for a quick and easy elimination, but JoJo put up a nice little fight. She shocked the second-generation Diva with a nice roll-up, and the crowd seemed to be into the David versus Goliath aspect of the match.
For a rookie, JoJo was incredibly sharp in everything she did. The bumps she took looked like she had taken them before, and the timing on the aforementioned roll-up could not have been better.
The fact that Rosa Mendes, who has been employed by WWE for seven years, looked completely wooden in everything she did in the match is a testament to JoJo and what she pulled off Sunday night.
If she continues to train and develop between the ropes, it may be that she proves to be the greatest asset from the Total Divas show and not the overexposed and, to this point, unimpressive Eva Marie.
Just really solid booking here that, for the minute or two JoJo and Tamina faced off, injected the match with some much-needed adrenaline and woke up the crowd.
Worst: AJ's Quick Tapout
AJ Lee did not enter the Divas elimination match until its closing moments, pinning JoJo after a Samoan Drop from Tamina. She was then quickly, and inexplicably, locked into the Sharpshooter and forced to tap by Natalya, ending the match and securing the win for the Total Divas team.
It was curious booking, at best, in that the Divas champion came out of the match looking the weakest of any of her teammates.
Yes, the finish sets up a potential Natalya-AJ feud over the title, but think about this: Rosa Mendes, Cameron and Aksana all got more ring time than the champion, who is among one of the best workers on the Divas roster.
AJ could have easily eliminated Nikki Bella, then tapped out to the Sharpshooter and the same outcome would have been presented—the only difference being that AJ at least was allowed to look somewhat competent.
Perhaps this writer is simply making more of it than what's necessary, but the Divas champion and top star in the division looked awfully weak Sunday night while several lesser talented women ate up 11 minutes.
Worst: Mark Henry vs. Ryback, Part Deux
While it was great to see Mark Henry return to WWE after three months away, watching him and Ryback struggle to have a competent match for the second time on one of the company's four marquee events was not fun whatsoever.
What should have been a decent power match between the two, involving the trading of crowd-popping strong-man maneuvers, quickly degenerated to a typical formatted match.
Nothing was terribly offensive about what was presented to fans, but one has to wonder at what point the creative team, which had previously watched these two stink it up at WrestleMania 29 this past spring, decided it would be a good idea to have Henry make his surprise return in a match against Ryback.
Henry looked a little rusty, but that was to be expected. Hopefully he will be able to knock that rust off in short order while staying far, far away from Ryback.
Best: CM Punk and Daniel Bryan Win
Daniel Bryan won a pay-per-view match.
Take a second and let that sink in. It has been quite a while since that statement has been made.
Bryan's tumultuous fall in 2013 has been well documented, so to see him celebrate a victory without knowing the victory will be ripped away the next night on Raw was a breath of fresh air.
That it came in a very good tag match with his partner and fellow A+ worker CM Punk was icing on top of the proverbial cake.
It was abundantly clear after the match that Bryan and Punk were the most over stars on the card, leading many to wonder why their feud, which had been featured in the main events of Raw and SmackDown leading into Survivor Series, did not go on last rather than the hideous piece-of-garbage WWE title match that did (more on that in a moment).
The win was much needed for the babyfaces, as both escaped the stale feuds that had bogged them down in recent weeks and helped carry the inexperienced, though talented, big men in Luke Harper and Erick Rowan to an above-average pay-per-view tag match.
It is highly unlikely that the feud has come to an end, if only because the Bray Wyatt character does not seem like the type of guy to simply move on because his guys lost.
As far as Harper and Rowan losing goes, it is not nearly as big of a deal as it may seem. Yes, the characters are still new at this point, and a win over two former WWE champions would have gone a long way in helping establish them as top heels in the company.
Luckily, the characters are so unique and different from everything else on the show that—like The Undertaker, Mankind and Kane—their aura and their presence will help keep them over, regardless of their win-loss record.
Worst: The Main Event
Who won or lost the WWE Championship match Sunday night was inconsequential.
How the finish played out meant nothing.
What mattered was that The Big Show vs. Randy Orton was the main event of a major pay-per-view event in the year 2013.
From the moment it looked like that was going to be the direction the company would be heading with the Authority angle, fans across the Internet spoke out against the match. "It's uninteresting," they said. "No one wants to see Big Show in that spot at this point in his career," they said.
Those fans were proven right during the broadcast, as Show and Orton delivered a truly uninspired, wildly uninteresting and historically bad main event match.
The "boring" chants infiltrated the bout early on, and later, chants for Daniel Bryan ensued.
The reaction, or lack thereof, of the fans in Boston echoed the thoughts of the fans who, for the last month, have complained about the prospect of watching the match play out.
Everything from the basic, boring match itself to the lackluster interference late in the match was met with great apathy.
That is not to say that champion and challenger did not work hard. The effort was there from both, but the execution of the match, the structure of the match and the story being told fell flat.
Given Show's limitations heading into the bout and what the company had to know was an audience that wanted nothing to do with the match, a specialty match of some sort would have gone a long way in helping achieve greater success.
As it stands, the match is almost certainly the worst pay-per-view main event since the cage match at No Way Out in June of 2012.
Not so coincidentally, that match also featured Big Show.
Best: Title Unification Tease
For years, fans have been speculating as to when the company would finally unify the WWE and World Heavyweight Championships.
If the closing moments of Survivor Series were any indication, that time could be coming sooner than later.
After Randy Orton's win over Big Show in the night's main event, John Cena's music played, and the World champion made his way to the ring. With title in hand, he stared down his longtime rival, who clutched his WWE title close to his chest.
The tease could have been done better, and less awkwardly, but the impending result is something that absolutely needs to happen.
At this point, WWE does not have a roster with enough strong, legitimate main event talent to continue supporting two heavyweight titles. With only a handful of top-level guys to challenge for the titles—a problem which is exclusively the company's fault for not doing a better job to elevate talent—repetitive matches and rematches bog down pay-per-view and television and have created disinterest among fans.
Having a single heavyweight title would put an end to the devaluing of the World championship while increasing the importance of the WWE title, which would surely be the belt that survives.
It was OK and, more importantly, made sense to have two champions when the brand extension was still in effect and Raw and SmackDown had distinct rosters. Now, with everyone under the same roof again, there is no need.
The only questionable decision is using Cena and Orton to decide the undisputed champion.
Cena definitely belongs in the equation. He is the unquestioned leader of World Wrestling Entertainment at this point and the top star in professional wrestling. Anything he is involved in instantly receives a credibility boost, whether his detractors like it or not.
Orton, and this is no knock on the wildly talented wrestler, has been booked so poorly over the last year that the idea of him being any real threat to beat Cena for the title is laughable.
The better choice would probably be CM Punk, who, more so than any other Superstar on the roster, has been booked as Cena's equal for the last two years.
But that is an argument for another article.
For now, the company made the right choice by teasing the unification of the titles, which will only help the overall quality and direction of the product in the future.