15 YRS AGO – KELLER’S WWE SURVIVOR SERIES REPORT & STAFF ROUNDTABLE REVIEWS (11-16-03): Triple H vs. Goldberg, Team Austin vs. Team Bischoff, McMahon vs. Undertaker, Kane vs. Shane, more


Bill Goldberg (photo credit Mike Lano © PWTorch)

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The following was originally published 15 years ago this week in the Pro Wrestling Torch Weekly Newsletter. Over 1,500 back issues of the Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter dating back to the late 1980s is available instantly when you become a PWTorch VIP member. You can look up our coverage of every WWE PPV event since late 1987. CLICK FOR VIP INFO


KELLER’S WWE SURVIVOR SERIES REPORT
November 16, 2003
Dallas, Tex. at American Airlines Arena

Announcers: Michael Cole and Tazz.

(1) Team Angle (Chris Benoit & John Cena & Bradshaw & Hardcore Holly & Kurt Angle) beat Team Lesnar (Brock Lesnar & Nathan Jones & Matt Morgan & A-Train & Big Show) at 13:17. Holly was DQ’d for attacking Brock before the bell. In the opening minutes, Bradshaw pinned A-Train after a Clothesline from Hell, then Big Show quickly clotheslined Bradshaw and pinned him. Morgan and Jones took turns on beating Cena, but they were the next eliminated (Angle pinned Morgan, Jones tapped out to Angle). The final four were Benoit & Cena vs. Show & Lesnar. Lesnar tapped out to a Crippler Crossface from Benoit. Cena then gave Show an FU (barely getting him up) for the clean win. Really good ten-man tag match. (***1/2)

Vince McMahon tried to bond with Shane McMahon backstage. Shane wasn’t going for it.

(2) Molly Holly pinned Lita at 6:51 to retain the WWE Women’s Title. Molly rammed Lita into an exposed turnbuckle. (*3/4)

(3) Kane beat Shane McMahon at 13:25 in an ambulance match. An ambulance pulled up in the aisle and to win, you had to put your opponent in there and close the doors. Shane dove onto Kane, sending both flying to the floor to start the match. They brawled backstage and then back to the aisle and around the ambulance. Shane’s biggest two spots were a dive off the top rope onto Kane on the Spanish table and a dive off the ambulance knocking a crate into Kane (sort of). No bleeding, and in the end Kane shoved Shane into the ambulance for the clean win after a Tombstone on the floor. Anticlimactic considering the build-up. It dragged, and the crowd was pretty flat for it. (**)

Josh Matthews interviewed Brock backstage. Goldberg interrupted and introduced himself. Brock didn’t talk back. Nice seed planting for the future.

The Coach walked to the ring wearing a neck brace and rambled for a minute, then he interviewed Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban at ringside. When Cuban endorsed Steve Austin, Eric Bischoff came out. Cuban shoved Bischoff, then Randy Orton gave Cuban his finisher. Cuban took the bump nicely.

Batista, Ric Flair, and Hunter partied backstage with women. Orton entered to brag about what he did.

(4) The Bashams beat Eddie & Chavo Guerrero to retain the WWE Tag Team Titles at 9:00. Chavo mistakenly kicked Eddie. When he turned to tend to him, he got rolled up by Danny and with a yank of the tights, he was pinned. (*3/4)

Ross and Lawler said Shane needed a CAT scan.

(5) Team Bischoff (Randy Orton & Mark Henry (w/Teddy Long) & Scott Steiner (w/Stacy) & Christian & Chris Jericho) beat Team Austin (Booker T & Rob Van Dam & The Dudleys & Shawn Michaels) at 27:04. Booker pinned Steiner after a Bookend, then Henry pinned Booker right away after a powerslam. The Dudleys eliminated Henry at 9:45. Orton finished off RVD at 11:30 and then Jericho finished off D-Von. That left Orton & Christian & Jericho vs. Bubba & Michaels. Michaels hadn’t been in at all, Christian very little. Christian pinned Bubba at 16:15, leaving just Michaels. Michaels bladed after a catapult into the ringpost at 17:00. Michaels came back with a surprise DDT on Jericho and made a comeback, pinning Christian after a Superkick out of nowhere. Michaels later rolled up Jericho for a three count. At 24:00, it was Orton vs. Michaels. The ref went down, Bischoff interfered, Austin fought him to the back, Batista interfered on Michaels, and Orton scored the pin. Good finishing sequence. Overall good match. (***3/4)

Austin gave a nice farewell speech to the crowd.

(6) Vince McMahon beat Undertaker at 11:47 in a Buried Alive match. Kane interfered in the end. McMahon bled very heavily from the opening seconds. Taker dominated except after a low blow by Vince. (*)

(7) Goldberg pinned Triple H (w/Ric Flair) at 11:45 to retain the World Hvt. Title. Goldberg dominated early. Hunter came back and worked over Goldberg’s ankle. Goldberg fended off Orton’s interference late, and then hit a Spear and Jackhammer for a decisive win. Smartly booked given the limitations of those involved. (**)

The above report was published in the print edition of Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter. The following is an expanded Keller report initially sent to PWTorch VIP members by email…

Michael Cole introduced the PPV, presumably because John Cena from Smackdown was booked first, but it’s worth keeping on eye on whether senior announcer Jim Ross gets a fair share of “opening introductions” for the dual-brand PPVs. In this case, I think it was purely a result of the match they wanted to lead with not any politics about “who gets to introduce the show.”

Cena said the PPV is backwards because the main event is coming out first. He did some rapping that the crowd wasn’t reacting much to. He said he stands alone and doesn’t need a stable, then said he’d like to trade his four partners in for a night with Sable.

1 — CHRIS BENOIT & JOHN CENA & BRADSHAW & HARDCORE HOLLY & KURT ANGLE vs. BIG SHOW & A-TRAIN &

Holly went after Brock just as he made it to the ring. He punched away at Brock at ringside. Benoit and Angle pulled him off, but the ref DQ’d him for his pre-match attack. That’s technically not consistent with how often wrestlers attack each other before the bell, and they just let them fight into the ring before ringing the bell. Bradshaw finished off A-Train at 0:30 after a Clothesline from Hell. Big Show then chokeslammed Bradshaw and scored a clean pin on him at 0:50. Morgan and Jones took some turns on Cena. When Brock tagged in, Cena managed to hot-tag Benoit at 4:00. he threw some hard chops at Lesnar. Cole pointed out a scary stat that three members of Team Angle have had broken necks at times in their careers (Angle, Benoit, Holly). Show tagged in and pressed Benoit above his head for several seconds before dropping him to the mat. Show went for the chokeslam, but Benoit reversed and applied the Crippler Crossface. Show’s partners made the save, breaking the hold. Show then put Benoit in an Abdominal Stretch. At 7:00 everyone brawled at ringside briefly. Benoit hot-tagged Angle in at 8:00 and threw three suplexes on Morgan. Jones tripped after a big boot. Angle went nut son everyone and finally Angleslammed Morgan at 9:00 to eliminate him. Jones held Angle, but Angle ducked and a charging Show hit Jones. Angle showed great fire and connected with the crowd, then applied the Anklelock. Jones tapped. Lesnar then gave Angle a quick finisher for the three count at 9:40. That left Benoit & Cena vs. Show & Lesnar. Benoit applied the Crossface. As Show entered the ring, Cena knocked him to the floor. Lesnar reversed the Crossface into a pin attempt. Benoit kicked out. Benoit reapplied the Crossface and the crowd popped big for it. Lesnar tapped out at 11:50. That left Benoit & Cena vs. Show. Benoit hit Show with a big shoulder block off the top rope. Show came back with a big chokeslam at 13:00. Cena then hit Show with a chain and then gave Show an FU to score the winning pin. Cena struggled to lift and hold Show, which made the move seem all the more impressive.

WINNERS: Team Angle at 13:17.

STAR RATING: ***1/2 — Really good ten man tag match. The fact that Cena needed a chain to beat Cena took a little away from the win for Cena, but overall booked effectively to boost Cena and Benoit.

-Vince McMahon approached Shane McMahon warming up backstage and talked to him about the significance of each having matches against brothers Kane and Undertaker. Shane wasn’t impressed with Vince’s speech. Vince took a deep breath and left. Then he crossed paths with Austin, who laughed in his face. Vince started laughing back for no apparent reason. Pretty funny. Austin then stopped in mid-stream. Vince stopped laughing and gulped. Austin stared him down and then walked away. The chemistry between the two continues to be strong.

Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler appeared on camera for the first time.

2 — MOLLY HOLLY vs. LITA – WWE Women’s Title match

Molly knocked Lita to the floor early as Lita was going for a headscissors off the top rope. Molly continues to dominate, including a handspring elbow into the corner. Lita came back at 5:00 and scored her first near fall after powerbombing Molly to the mat after Molly had been pounding her head in the corner of the ring while standing on the top rope. Lita followed with a Russian leg sweep and then went to the top rope and came off with a Litasault. Molly moved, so Lita hit the mat hard. Molly came off the top rope with her Molly-Go-Round for a near fall. Ross called it “over,” but Lita kicked out at the last possible second. Molly complained to the ref. Molly removed the middle turnbuckle. Lita then rolled her up from behind for a near fall. Molly rammed Lita into the exposed turnbuckle and scored the pin.

WINNER; Molly ta 6:51 to retain the Women’s Title.

STAR RATING: *3/4 — Good basic match. Nice finishing sequence.

-A vignette aired recapping the Shane-Kane feud.

3 — SHANE MCMAHON vs. KANE

Ross billed it as the final encounter between them. An ambulance pulled up on the stage. Howard Finkle explained the rules – the winner is the first person to put his opponent in the ambulance and lock the door. Shane dove at Kane in the ring to start the match and Kane took a scary looking head-first bump to the floor. They then brawled at ringside. Shane put the stairs over Kane’s head and then hit the stairs with a chair. He followed up by hitting Kane with the monitor at ringside. Then Shane dove off the top rope and landed on Kane on the Spanish announcers’ table at ringside. At 2:00 Shane went into the crowd and encouraged Kane to follow him through the crowd. They went backstage with the cameras and showed Shane running and Kane lumbering behind him in pursuit. Ross said Shane is leading Kane someplace. Shane then came up behind Kane with a kendo stick and bashed him. Shane is quite tricky. Shane backed up an SUV into Kane in a booth backstage, then called for the ambulance. As Shane tried to get the ambulance, Kane recovered and began beating up Shane. He dragged Shane back into the arena bowl. He threw Shane into the ambulance. Shane escaped Kane’s grip as he was about to ram him head-first into the ambulance. Shane then rammed Kane’s head into the ambulance several times. Lawler wondered if the ambulance was going to be able to even make it to the hospital. Kane fought back and threw Shane into the ambulance. Just as Kane was about to close the second door on him, Shane kicked it open and made a Tommy Dreamer Superman Comeback out of nowhere. He gave Kane a tornado DDT on the floor. Shane bashed Kane over the head with a trash can. Shane leaped off the ambulance roof onto a big black box that was pushed up against Kane on the floor. It wasn’t entirely clear how the move was supposed to hurt Kane. There was a small “Holy sh–-” chant for a couple seconds. Shane loaded Kane’s dead weight into the ambulance. He tried to slam the second door, but Kane blocked it and then he dragged Shane into the ambulance with him. Kane then got his official second wind, shoving Shane out of the ambulance and slammed him into the side of the ambulance. Ross said it was “human carnage.” Kane gave Shane a tombstone piledriver. The camera clearly showed Shane’s head didn’t come anywhere close to the floor. I wonder if that was the camera angle they meant to use. Kane then threw Shane into the ambulance and slammed both doors to win the match.

WINNER: Kane at 13:25.

STAR RATING: ** — Pretty dull at times, but mixed with some big spots and energetic action. The crowd didn’t seem especially into it, and in general these matches tend to numb the crowd for the rest of the night. It’s what you’d expect, although without blood. The finish was a bit flat, too. The high-adrenaline point of the match may have been the opening spot where Shane knocked Kane head-first onto the floor.

-Josh Matthews interviewed Brock Lesnar who claimed he didn’t lose. Goldberg interrupted. Brock asked him what he wanted. Goldberg introduced himself as the World Heavyweight Champion. Brock said nothing. Goldberg asked if he was going to wish him luck in his match later, then he walked off. Well done at planting the seed for that likely WrestleMania 20 match.

-The Coach walked to the ring wearing a neck brace. He rambled about nothing, saying he was going to recover and be okay. Then as his music played, Ross said, “We interrupted the show for this?” Then Coach noticed Mark Cuban at ringside. He interviewed him. Cuban said he is excited about seeing Steve Austin’s team win later. When Coach asked him about referees, Cuban said all referees suck. Eric Bischoff entered the ring with a mic. Bischoff asked him to be a man and say what he wants to say to his face. The fans encouraged him. Cuban milked it and then entered the ring. Bischoff told Cuban tonight he rented the arena so it’s his building. Bischoff said he could have him kicked out by security, or “better yet, I could do it myself.” Cuban shoved Bischoff, who bumped to the mat and bailed out. Randy Orton then entered the ring and tag Cuban his finisher from behind. Cuban took a nice bump (Nathan Jones, take notes). Ross said the “Legend Killer” was at it again.

Batista, Triple H, and Ric Flair partied backstage with a bunch of woman who were oogling over Hunter’s bare chest. Orton then entered the room and bragged about what he did to Cuban. Hunter said he would be bringing the World Hvt. Title back to where it belongs.

4 — THE BASHAMS (w/Shaniqua) vs. EDDIE & CHAVO GUERRERO

The Bashams got early advantage, then the Guerreros took over at about 5:00. Shaniqua distracted the ref, giving Danny a chance to switch places with Doug. Chavo then yanked Shaniqua into the ring and held her down for an Eddie Guerrero frogsplash. Chavo then gave Shaniqua a spanking. Chavo mistakenly kicked Eddie. When Chavo turned to tend to Eddie, Danny rolled him up from behind and yanked on his tights to score a pin. Chavo explained to Eddie what happened and, as usual, seemed to be passing off the blame.

WINNERS: The Bashams to retain the tag titles in 9:00.

STAR RATING: *3/4 — Basic tag match. Solid action. It lacked a big angle to break up the Guerreros.

-A plug aired for the Dec. 14 Armageddon PPV. Ross and Lawler then updated Shane’s condition, saying he was at the hospital and was getting a CAT scan.

-A long video package was followed by long ring introductions for the ten-man tag, including a brief face-off at ringside between Austin and Bischoff.

5 — BOOKER T & ROB VAN DAM & THE DUDLEYS & SHAWN MICHAELS (“Team Austin”) vs. CHRIS JERICHO & CHRISTIAN & SCOTT STEINER (w/Stacy) & MARK HENRY (w/Teddy Long) & RANDY ORTON (“Team Bischoff”)

Ross referred to Raw as “the flagship” when talking about getting to see Jericho and RVD every Monday night on Spike TV as those two had some nice early exchanges. Steiner tagged in and suplexed RVD a couple times and then did some pushups. Steiner gave RVD a belly-to-belly off the top rope for a two count at 4:30. They showed Austin looking on concerned. Booker hot-tagged in and went to work on Steiner with great energy. Steiner cut him off with a clothesline. Booker came back and did his Spinaroonie at 5:30 and then hit Steiner with a spinebuster. Ten-way chaos broke out next with most everyone spilling quickly to ringside. Steiner then gave Booker a low-blow, but the ref didn’t see it. He followed with the Steiner Recliner. Stacy stood on the apron and cheered for Booker and distracted the ref. Steiner released Booker and then grabbed Stacy by the hair. That gave the Dudleys a chance to give him the 3D from behind. Booker then followed up with a Bookend for the three count at 7:00. Henry followed up with a quick powerslam to eliminate Booker at 7:30. RVD faced off against Henry next. The Dudleys gave Henry a 3D and RVD followed with a nice Five-Star Frogsplash and Henry was eliminated by a Bubba pin at 9:45. Jericho and RVD faced off next. RVD and Orton squared off. RVD set up for a Five-Star, but Jericho shoved him off the top rope and Orton then hit his finisher for the pin on RVD at 11:30. D-Von then faced off against Orton. Jericho pinned D-Von at 13:30, leaving it Orton & Christian & Jericho vs. Bubba & Michaels. Michaels hadn’t tagged in yet, and Orton and Christian had seen very limited action. Michaels tagged in the first time at 14:00. Both teams tagged in and out for a few minutes. Jericho mistakenly hit Christian at 16:15 and then Bubba set up a Bubbabomb, but Jericho mule kicked him. Christian then finished off Bubba for the win at 16:30, leaving Jericho & Christian & Orton vs. Michaels. Austin looked worried at ringside. Michaels showed nice fire in working over Christian and did a nice kip up. Jericho yanked down the top rope, so when Christian whipped him into the ropes Michaels bumped to the floor. Christian and Michaels had a nice chopfest at 18:00. Jericho yanked Michaels to ringside. Jericho catapulted Michaels into the ringpost, and Michaels (who clearly bladed right before the catapult) came up bleeding very heavily. Michaels caught Christian out of nowhere with a superkick at 20:00 to make it two-on-one. Fans began an “HBK” chant. Ross called for a miracle. Michaels put a sleeper on Orton at 21:30. Orton suplexed out of it seconds later. He tagged right out to Jericho, who scored a near fall. Lawler said he hated to say it, but it wasn’t looking good for Austin’s team. Michaels surprised Jericho with a DDT out of nowhere. Both men were down. Michaels covered Jericho and scored a two count. Orton entered the ring. Michaels tossed him over the top rope right away. Jericho then went for a Lionsault, but Michaels lifted his knees and caught Jericho in the gut. Both men were down on the mat, Michaels a bloody mess and Jericho clutching his stomach. Michaels then got up and went for a superkick, but Jericho ducked it. Michaels then rolled up Jericho into a small package for a “miraculous three count.” Jericho retaliated with a chairshot to Michaels’s skull, then trash-talked Austin. Austin told Jericho he got beat and to return to the back, then he tossed him the middle finger. That left Orton vs. Michaels at 24:00. Orton flew off the top rope toward Michaels, but Michaels moved, so Orton hit the ref. Bischoff attempted to interfere, but Austin entered the ring and gave him a Stunner. He then beat him all the way back to the stage. Michaels covered Orton, but with the ref still down, Batista powerbombed Michaels. The ref began to come to, and there was no sign of Austin or Bischoff, who had fought to the back. Orton draped his arm over Michaels and the ref made a groggy three count. Austin returned from the back and looked dismayed at what just happened.

WINNER: Team Bischoff at 27:04.

STAR RATING: ***1/2 — Good finishing sequence. Solid action before that. Well booked overall.

-Austin helped Michaels to his feet, talked to him briefly seemingly about how appreciative he was of his effort, and walked him to the back. Austin put his hands on his hips as he returned toward the back. Ross and Lawler talked solemnly about how this was the last time we’d see Steve Austin in WWE. The crowd seemed to be in stunned silence, the energy sucked out of them like a last second winning shot by a visiting team in a big NBA game.

-Austin’s music then began to play. Ross said he didn’t know why. Austin stepped back out. A soft-spoken Austin grabbed the mic and said, “I’ve got some bad news, but first some good news. I just saved a ton of my auto insurance.” Okay, he didn’t say that. He said if his career was going to end, at least it’s ending in Dallas, Tex. where it all started. Austin, in a soft-spoken, emotional voice, said there have been a lot of ups and downs, good times and bad times, but one thing is for sure, “You won’t hear me say this often, but I love the shit out of you guys.” No bleep. Coach then began singing “Na na na na, hey hey hey, good bye.” He walked to the ring flanked by four security guards. Have security guards ever actually helped save a heel from getting his ass kicked? Coach told Austin the security guards were there to escort him out of the arena. Coach said, “But first, how does it feel to know that you are through, you are finished, no longer ever in the WWE.” Austin then punched Coach and took out the security guards. Ross said Austin has nothing to lose because he doesn’t work for WWE anymore. Austin cleared the ring of the guards, then stomped away on Coach in the corner and followed up with a Stunner. Lawler said, “The final Stunner.” Austin’s music played. Austin shoved Coach to the floor, then he drank beer in the ring “for the final time” and saluted the fans in each of the corners. Ross brought up the Dallas Sportatorium as the location where Austin got his start. Ross said there’ll never be another one like Stone Cold. I can’t believe they’d finish the show with three straight major heel wins (Bischoff’s Team, Vince over Taker, and Hunter over Goldberg), so you’d think something has to give in the last two matches.

6 — VINCE MCMAHON vs. UNDERTAKER

Vince prayed to a higher power before the match. It didn’t help, as Undertaker beat on Vince from the opening bell and Vince bladed hard right away in the opening seconds. Taker beat on Vince in the ring and at ringside methodically nonstop for eight minutes. There were puddles of blood all over ringside. Taker stiffed Vince over the skull with a shovel, and then rammed his ankle with the stairs. Vince screamed in pain. Taker carried Vince to the pile of dirt. As he tried to drag him up the mound of dirt, Vince fired back with a low blow, his first offense of the match. VInce then grabbed the shovel and swung it into Taker’s chest, knocking him backward into the hole in the ground. When Vince went in after him, Taker came back by punching Vince. Taker went up to the tractor to try to pour dirt on Vince, but an explosion came from the tractor. Kane then showed his face and knocked Taker into the plot. Kane helped Vince out of the hole and sent him away. Kane then stood over Taker in the hole. Tazz pointed out it was no DQ, no countout, so Kane could legally interfere and pour the dirt on Taker. Cole said, “But that’s Undertaker’s brother!” Kane then poured the dirt over Taker, completely filling the hole. The bell rang and Cole said, “Undertaker has been buried alive.”

WINNER: Vince McMahon at 11:47.

STAR RATING: * — Really hard to rate because it wasn’t really a match, it was a spectacle. It was so one-sided and the finish left the crowd flat, although that was probably the intent. Vince did do a good job selling the offense of Taker.

Apparently Undertaker signed a No Not Resuscitate statement before the match, because nothing was shown or said that indicated anyone had tried to unearth him. But as always, the show must go on.

7 — GOLDBERG vs. TRIPLE H (w/Ric Flair) – World Hvt. Title match

Goldberg attacked Hunter as soon as he got to the ring, giving him a spear even before the bell rang. The ref was distracted by Flair, thus the excuse for why Goldberg wasn’t DQ’d like Hardcore Holly was at the start of the show. Goldberg clotheslined Flair out of the ring, then the ref ordered the bell to be rung. Goldberg rammed Hunter’s head into the stairs at ringside and then whipped him into the stairs in the opening minute of the match. When Goldberg attempted to press Hunter early in the match, his ankle gave in and he collapsed and reached for it in pain. That Hunter the opening he needed. Hunter threw Goldberg to ringside. Hunter seemed thicker around the midsection than usual, perhaps a result of his honeymoon meals. Flair worked over Goldberg’s leg at ringside, too. Hunter threw Goldberg back into the ring at 3:30. Flair choked Goldberg as Hunter distracted the ref. Hunter applied a half Boston Crab at 6:30. Hunter then wrapped Goldberg’s bad right leg around the ringpost, but he yanked Hunter with his legs face-first into the ringpost. Hunter returned to the ring and KO’d Goldberg with brass knuckles and scored a two count at 9:00. Barely a pop for the kickout for some reason. The ref then went down when Hunter bumped into him. Hunter got the sledge hammer, but Goldberg kicked it into Hunter’s face. Flair climbed to the top rope, but Goldberg pressed him to the mat. Then Goldberg, selling his leg with a limp, grabbed the sledge hammer. He hit Flair in the gut with it, then approached Hunter. Batista entered the ring. Goldberg nailed him with the sledgehammer. Orton ran to the ring. Goldberg fended him off, too. That gave Hunter time to recover and he set up a Pedigree. Goldberg blocked it and backdropped out of it. Goldberg then nailed Hunter with a Spear and played to the crowd. Goldberg then hit the Jackhammer and went for the cover. The crowd counted to three, but the ref was slow to turn around. The ref finally did and counted to three. Ross said, “If you don’t believe the hype, you better start.”

WINNER: Goldberg at 11:45 to retain the World Hvt. Title.

STAR RATING: ** — Smartly booked given the limitations. The crowd seemed burned out by this point and the match didn’t give them any big spots.


PPV ROUNDTABLE REVIEWS – WWE SURVIVOR SERIES

Jason Powell, assistant editor (6.5)

This show was well on its way to earning at least a 7.5 score, only to have the Steve Austin retirement take the wind out of the live crowd’s sail. Once Austin said his goodbyes, the final three matches played to very little crowd heat, which did at least a point’s worth of damage to the overall event. What’s so frustrating about the Austin retirement is that it’s clearly just the latest example of the company promoting a stipulation it has no intention of living up to, as there is no doubt that Austin will be returning at some point. No matter what WWE has planned upon Austin’s return, it will not justify the decision to back out on yet another stipulation.

WWE has been going against their own stipulations for so long that I’m surprised the live crowd took Austin’s retirement seriously. When Austin returns sooner than later, the fans will realize once and for all that WWE stipulations are just con taglines designed to increase pay-per-view buyrates. And sooner or later, WWE is going to face a situation where they are serious about the stipulation of one of their matches, only to have the fans balk after thinking back to the multiple firings of Stephanie McMahon and Jim Ross, Kevin Nash’s bogus head shaving, and the numerious additional stipulations the company has failed to live up to. And when this situation does come up, WWE will only have to look back on the old tale of the little boy who cried wolf for an explanation as to why no one is taking them seriously.

Notes: Although the Austin retirement played some part, Vince McMahon must also share in the blame for the live crowd’s lack of reaction to his match with Undertaker. The character Vince has played over the last month isn’t a great heel, but rather a twisted creation from a man who cares more about entertaining himself than the audience. And Vince’s blade job might have helped the match if it hadn’t come three seconds into the match and only a few minutes after the fans saw Shawn Michaels cut deeper…

Speaking of Michaels, he delivered the standout performance of the night and made the Raw Survivor Series match surprisingly entertaining. On the other hand, the Smackdown Survivor Series match was nothing special due to some of the quick eliminations. And while it was nice to see Benoit score a submission win over Brock Lesnar, it was a half-hearted attempt by WWE to launch a feud they obviously aren’t excited about. With Lesnar’s tapout loss to Kurt Angle still fresh in the minds of the fans, Benoit’s win (which wasn’t even the final fall of the match) didn’t seem like a major happening…

Fun skit with Mark Cuban who, unlike some other owners (cough, McMahons, cough), actually did the right thing for WWE business… Batista appears to be the breakout heel that Randy Orton was supposed to be. Orton had a good night, but Batistia is really starting to click… One of the strengths of the show were the subtle teases between the wrestlers for the Raw vs. Smackdown matches at WrestleMania. On the other hand, I could have done without the corny shots that the announcers took at their opposing brands… The best thing about this show is that Stephanie McMahon did not make her expected return. Second best thing is that Mr. Steph did the right thing…

Bruce Mitchell, Torch senior columnist (6.0)

The Red Turns To Green Survivor Series show was worth seeing just for the Steve Austin 10 Man Invitational and its aftermath. That was one of the best matches of the year. It was booked well and a bloody Shawn Michaels performance really sent it over the top. Austin acted liked a guy who really lost his career.

The rest of the show was just kind of there. Molly should have won. Lita hasn’t shown she can do much since she’s been back.

The Team Lug match wasn’t that good. Shane and Kane was the same showoff crap we always get from the son of the owner. I enjoy the mark-like souvenir jerseys he makes for himself to commemorate his pay-per-view matches. Mr. McMahon vs. Undertaker was less of a match than his son’s, just a gore fest. That can’t be good for that old man.

Los Guerreros vs. The Bashams cut off just when it was getting started. Triple H’s challenge of Goldberg wasn’t much good, even with the built in excuse of the “broken” ankle. WWE still isn’t letting Goldberg be Goldberg, but then it’s probably a moot point now.

James Guttman, columnist (8.0)

Good show tonight. Survivor Series was another in a string of entertaining dual brand pay-per-views. When both rosters are showcased, the entire event just has a big time feel.

Both elimination matches were great. Team Lesnar vs. Team Angle was booked great. They got rid of the “Koko B. Ware” team members early and focused on those they wanted to showcase. I still don’t get how Bob Holly was disqualified before the official bell rang, but that’s a minor detail. Benoit and Cena jumped about three rungs up the ladder tonight with the match ending. That footage of John F-Uing Show will be shown for years.

Austin-Bischoff was good, too. The ending was well-done and gave Batista’s recent Stone Cold altercations meaning. Orton killed two legends tonight. He destroyed Steve Austin and Mark Cuban… Well, I guess he killed one legend.

Shane and Kane put forth a decent showing, although there was some down time. The same can be said for Vince vs. Taker, although your $30 for pay-per-views lately has bought you the chance to see Vince McMahon bleed to death. Brutal and difficult to watch, the bloody McMahon victory, with help from Kane set up the upcoming major Dead Man Undertaker angle. The ball got rolling on some exciting angles.

The meeting of Goldberg and Lesnar was done well. There were definite WrestleMania seeds planted. Berg’s match with Hunter was pretty good. I could just imagine what was going through Trips’s mind as he had to lie down extra long for the Jackhammer while the ref regained his composure.

Altogether this was a solid show. There were some slow moments, but for the most part it was entertaining and worth a view. It also left you with a reason to tune into Raw and Smackdown this week. Good stuff.

Pat McNeill, Torch columnist (8.0)

How about that? I guess the honeymoon really is over, and it wasn’t just a clever sign in the crowd. More to the point, it looks like Triple H really is going away to make movies for a while. As a result, WWE actually spent this PPV building up for next month’s PPV. Bill Goldberg got to pin Triple H cleanly and mow down Evolution in the process. Kane scored a clean and convincing victory over Shane McMahon and got to eliminate his longtime nemesis, the Undertaker – at least for a few months. If you’re not crazy about the finish to the ambulance match, here are a couple of points to consider.

After all of the gimmicks in this feud, it might seem anticlimactic to have Kane win with the Tombstone, but the focus of the match and even the focus of the prematch video package was to show how devastating Kane’s Tombstone piledriver is. Putting the heat on the heel’s finishing move is never a bad strategy. Second, Jim Ross really hammered home the importance of the match and stated that if Shane McMahon couldn’t stop Kane, who could? If the McMahon family is going to get pushed at this ridiculous level, it’s only fair that a victory over a McMahon in a big match should be treated like an important event.

For the most part WWE put the emphasis on working smart tonight. Shane McMahon was obviously the exception since he got to do his ridiculous late-’90s highspots, but they ultimately didn’t help him win. The Raw ten man tag match was one of the best WWE-style matches of the year. I question the idea of building the whole thing around Shawn Michaels, but HBK delivered. Of course, nobody believes that Austin will be departing WWE, but Stone Cold sold the whole thing like the real life pre-WrestleMania panic attacks. Since it was entertaining and well put together, WWE deserves the benefit of the doubt for a couple of weeks.

Was it Blood Night tonight, or something? Vince McMahon bladed like he was out to top the incredible Shawn Michaels juice job from the previous match. Whatever you say about Mr. McMahon, you can’t say he disrespected Undertaker. He bled all over ringside, scored minimal offense, and needed a whole lot of outside interference for the win. This was one of the best WWE PPVs in recent memory and everyone involved deserves a round of applause.

Wade Keller, Torch editor (7.0)

This was a show where the star ratings don’t tell the whole story. This event had a big-event feel to it. Not a WrestleMania level event, but something more than the brand-exclusive PPVs. Obviously, WWE would like everyone to order every event, but that’s not within everyone’s budget or interest level. They’ve now formatted PPVs in a way where a whole segment of fans can feel they’re seeing the biggest events WWE offers if they order the Big Four, whereas perhaps before they would have only ordered WrestleMania. Nobody knows for sure what the effect is because statistics don’t reveal such information decisively because there are too many other factors.

The biggest happening on the show was Steve Austin’s post-match farewell speech. WWE did a great job overall selling the loss by Team Austin. Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler were very good in making it seem Austin really was leaving. The timing of his autobiography is perfect, because it almost seems like his memoirs and all that’s needed now is an additional chapter for the final year of his career added to the paperback. I don’t know where they’re going from here with Austin, but I’m intrigued. I hope they’ve put some thought into this since, as Jason wrote, they did sell the event based on the stipulation in that match, and if they blatantly ignore the stip and have a lame copout, it will damage their ability to sell future events on monumental stipulations because nobody will take them seriously.

The two ten-man tag matches were really good. They both told the story they needed to tell and did so well without overstaying their welcome. I’m not as high on the Raw match as Bruce is, but I do think it was a very good match in and of itself, even setting aside the Austin post-match angle.

The Vince McMahon vs. Undertaker spectacle was what it needed to be. Given the importance of Vince and Taker to WWE over its history, they were at the right place on the card. It was correct to have Taker beat Vince senseless. The blade job was incredible, and if you’re into that thing, it was a classic PPV moment. If you’re not, it was probably an excessive turnoff. The finish with Kane was a bit of a screwjob, but given the history between those two, it’s acceptable. I do find it weird that we got an update on Shane McMahon’s condition at the hospital, but not Undertaker’s condition underneath all the dirt. Is the ghost of Undertaker going to haunt Kane until WM20?

The Shane vs. Kane match was as ridiculous as their past stuff, yet less spectacular. The angles leading up to the match suggested that the blowoff match would feature something really special, like the ambulance being dropped from the ceiling, or exploding, or something. Instead, the finish was a bit flat and the spots leading up to it were “been there, seen that.” That’s the deadly fault of Shane’s whole style – there’s just only so far you can go and then you’re left with crowd’s being letdown because you don’t literally sever an arm or swallow glass.

The World Title main event was what it needed to be and was just enough to be an acceptable main event. It had all the big moves. Flair, Batista, and Orton added an energy to the match that Goldberg and Hunter alone wouldn’t have been able to provide. The decisive pin gives Goldberg a sense of legitimacy as champion he didn’t have before.

The other two matches – the women’s title and tag title bouts – were acceptable. They didn’t take away from the show, but they seemed like general TV matches.

John Cena and Chris Benoit were established in the opener as two top level babyfaces on Smackdown who will be vying for opportunities at Lesnar. The handshake meant something at the end of the match.

A well-booked, logical show, but now WWE has to provide some compelling follow-up.


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