A few weeks ago, it was easy to see dozens of ways that Seth Rollins’ untimely injury could lead to a thrilling and fresh Survivor Series despite the loss of a star performer. WWE immediately got the ball rolling by initiating a 16-man bracket to determine a new champion, and even the conclusion of the bracket left plenty of room for dense plotting. None of the ideas perpetrated by me or any other fan came to pass, as Vince McMahon and company instead elected to water one of its big four pay-per-views down with a whole lot of yuck.
I’m not entirely sure where to begin, so I might as well launch into that ending. Having run through Alberto Del Rio and Kevin Owens respectively, Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose rolled into the main event with plenty to prove. Neither had ever held the company’s highest position before, both were previously members of the same faction, and (as we are reminded of constantly) they have a storyline friendship so deep that it would be hard to dispute it if I told you they hold hands while skipping to the arena every week.
The result was nothing short of head-scratching. Neither man indulged us with a heel turn, the match was far too short when such a match-up could have generated plenty of buzz, and WWE’s clear chosen man (Reigns) used his tired punch-‘n-spear combo to get the win. And then came the confetti, and holy shit was there a lot of it. For what seemed like hours, confetti was dumped from the rafters like a million tiny, colorful iterations of Sting. Reigns reveled in his victory for what I’d believe was another hour, and then Triple H waltzed on down to the ring to congratulate the new champion.
Reigns and Triple H of course hate one another because that’s what babyfaces and heels do. Triple H acted as though he was simply there as the guy that runs the company to usher in a new era, but of course Reigns didn’t trust him after spurning Triple H’s offer to join The Authority a couple of weeks prior. Reigns then speared the WWE COO and continued his confetti-soaked joy parade all over the ring. The presentation here signaled that the very most monumental event in wrestling history had just taken place, so much so that the cameras had to get right up in there for me to even see what was going on through the waves of shredded paper.
Not thrilled with the clean Reigns win devoid of anything resembling propulsive story, it was still clear that the event was well shy of its typical run time. Enter Sheamus and his awful braided red beard. Sheamus delivered his finisher–the annoying and boring Brogue Kick–to Reigns and then cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase for a title shot right then and there. The referee took absolutely forever to get the bell to ring (quite possibly because the time keeper couldn’t see him through all of the fucking confetti), and the end result was Sheamus getting the pin after a second Brogue Kick following a Reigns kick-out.
So there you have it, Sheamus is the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion. This is the same Sheamus who returned from injury and was given the Money in the Bank contract as a heel despite generating the wrong kind of heel reaction. Fans don’t hate him because of his scripted actions, they hate him because his mohawk and braided beard look patently ridiculous. He’s inspired countless “you look stupid” chants from crowds, and before Sunday night he had been relegated to meaningless tag matches for weeks.
While I didn’t like Reigns getting the belt, a Sheamus cash-in is far from a wholly better answer. He wasn’t built up as a heel to fear, much as Reigns isn’t unique or interesting enough to be the face of the company. Nonetheless, next month’s TLC pay-per-view will totally feature these two going at it for the glory, and I doubt very many people care. With the roster weakened by injuries and other projects, this is hardly the time to get yawn-inducing on the creative side.
Also, didn’t you say you’ve been yearning for more Undertaker video packages, that the whole “Undertaker Week” thing on WWE Network just wasn’t enough? Well, have I got an event for you! Survivor Series worked so, so hard to cram all of the Undertaker anniversary propaganda into its three-hour slot that it’s hard to imagine even the biggest Deadman fan not rolling his heavily-mascaraed eyes. The Undertaker, now 107 years old (dead?), has been featured on five pay-per-view events in 2015 in addition to popping up on both Raw and Smackdown periodically. This wasn’t exactly a Halley’s comet situation, and I think we’ve all had enough.
This rings especially true considering the Undertaker and Kane vs. the Wyatt family match was awful. Nothing really happened, the Undertaker simply can’t wrestle believably any longer, and poor Bray Wyatt is still supposed to instill fear despite never, ever winning a big match. All of these are legitimate complaints, but the aspect I hate the most when it comes to watching Undertaker matches in 2015 is that I have to physically witness him attempting his old shtick. A man in his fifties sporting a near-Ben Franklin haircut is much more liable to elicit laughs than gasps when he sticks his tongue out and does a throat-slitting gesture.
I’m already grossed out by having to remember much of what I’m writing, but there were also two traditional Survivor Series matches at Survivor Series. One occupied the pre-show slot, while the other involved the Usos. Needless to say, I could care less. Does anyone else think the Usos are imminently forgettable? What are they doing better than anyone else?
On a very brief positive note, there were some good matches from the usual culprits. Both semi-final matches of the bracket were very solid, Paige and Charlotte were excellent despite the lazy script, and The New Day remained highly entertaining. It’s too bad none of these facts can overshadow the theme of the night, which is lazy storytelling and an over-reliance on gimmicks and tropes that have been beaten into the ground much harder than anyone receiving an Undertaker Tombstone in his twilight years.