WWE Survivor Series 2015: Results and observations from the show
It would be easy to look back at the 2015 Survivor Series and say it wasn't an entertaining show.
But that would only be scratching the surface from everything that prevented this show from being as memorable as it could have been.
That's because the 29th annual Survivor Series, which took place at Philips Arena in Atlanta, was full of missed opportunities, WWE missing numerous chances to create more intrigue, buzz and excitement around its product as it heads into the most crucial part of its schedule.
Whatever intrigue that surrounded a particular match or story was inexplicably quelled or chances in which excitement could have been created were missed or ignored.
The pieces were in place for this year's Survivor Series to be one people would never forget. Instead, it turned out to be one fans couldn't forget soon enough.
Before I delve deeper into my analysis, here are the full match results from Atlanta:
- Kickoff match: Traditional Survivor Series match – Dudley Boyz, Titus O'Neill, Goldust & Neville def. The Ascension, Stardust, The Miz & Bo Dallas (Survivors: Dudley Boyz, O'Neill, Goldust)
- WWE World Heavyweight championship tournament (semifinals) - Roman Reigns def. Alberto Del Rio
- WWE World Heavyweight championship tournament (semifinals) – Dean Ambrose def. Kevin Owens
- Traditional Survivor Series match – Ryback, The Lucha Dragons & The Usos def. The New Day, King Barrett & Sheamus (Survivors: Kalisto, Jey Uso, Ryback)
- WWE Divas championship – Charlotte def. Paige
- Tyler Breeze def. Dolph Ziggler
- The Undertaker & Kane vs. The Wyatt Family (Bray Wyatt & Luke Harper)
- WWE World Heavyweight championship – Roman Reigns def. Dean Ambrose
- WWE World Heavyweight championship – Sheamus def. Roman Reigns
Sheamus wins WWE World Heavyweight championship
Everyone knew that it could happen, but very few wanted the possibility to become a reality.
Sheamus, who has not been positioned as being worthy of holding the WWE World Heavyweight championship because of multiple losses and a lack of direction since winning the Money in the Bank contract back in June, won his fourth world championship after cashing in the contract on Roman Reigns, who had defeated Dean Ambrose to win the vacated title just moments earlier.
WWE could have gone with a number of options with the WWE World Heavyweight championship once Seth Rollins suffered his severe knee injury earlier this month.
Of all of the options, having Sheamus cash in his Money in the Bank contract seemed the least interesting. It's nothing against Sheamus personally; he's a talented performer. It's just that he's had no momentum heading into Survivor Series. Even back at Money in the Bank, he was the least interesting option to win the match, but he did and now five months later, he's the top man in the industry.
Sheamus winning the WWE World Heavyweight championship at this juncture makes the title look more mid-card than ever, as Sheamus is as mid-card as it gets. He was so mid-card that Cesaro, for whom WWE seemingly has no main-event plans, eliminated him in the first round of the WWE World Heavyweight title tournament.
Sheamus was so mid-card that he was recently thrown into a makeshift tag team with King Barrett, who has also been toiling in mid-card purgatory despite winning this year's King of the Ring.
Sheamus was so mid-card that he was thrown into an unannounced match on this very show, which he said the he was going to get "jiggy" over before it started. He was then the last person eliminated from his team. I guess him being the last man remaining on his team was WWE's effort to make him look strong before winning the title.
That's right, the same person who used the term "jiggy" in 2015 won the top prize in the industry a little more than an hour later.
That guy is now the WWE World Heavyweight champion. This is by no means a personal attack on Sheamus. I feel the need to reiterate that because Sheamus is such a talented performer, but he has not been given much to work with before winning the WWE World Heavyweight championship to make his surprising victory special or memorable.
If anything, it might be forgotten in a couple of months.
On top of all of that, it also represented WWE's unwillingness to take any real chances with its product despite decreasing television ratings and live event attendance.
WWE had the chance to make Reigns a viable heel by turning on his best friend in the title match. Instead, the company just kept him status quo, which if you heard the reception he got in Atlanta, is lukewarm at best.
WWE's insistence to make Reigns the company's top babyface is only hurting the product, as it is stale and mundane. Sheamus being The Authority's man isn't a shakeup at all since Sheamus was already a heel anyway.
WWE even had the chance to turn Ambrose heel by having him potentially join The Authority. It wouldn't have been my first option, but it would have been something.
Instead, it made him look like just another guy, losing without incident to his best friend. We now know who is the Batman and who is the Robin in the relationship after that match.
Reigns vs. Ambrose was very underwhelming
Speaking of that match, boy was it underwhelming.
It was short and mostly uneventful, which is unfortunate given the talent level of both performers and the time invested into the tournament and the relationship between both characters.
Reigns and Ambrose deserved better than that, and I know that WWE had to make time for the cash-in attempt to follow, but if you don't book the cash-in attempt and turn one of these two men heel, you would have more time to make this match great.
For what it was, the match was good, but it could have so much more.
Reigns is a bridesmaid yet again
Time and again, Reigns has experienced heartbreak on big stages. At WrestleMania, Reigns looked on track to slaying the beast Brock Lesnar and win the WWE World Heavyweight title, but some fan backlash seemingly forced WWE to call an audible and have Rollins cash in his Money in the Bank contract.
At Money in the Bank, he was inches away from pulling down the briefcase before Bray Wyatt interfered and cost him the match.
And then we come to this past Sunday night when Reigns was originally scheduled to have a one-on-one match against Rollins for the title, and possibly win it, only for Rollins to suffer a ghastly knee injury and force WWE to change its plans yet again.
Although Reigns got his first official world title victory, he is now on the chase yet again.
This makes logical sense as a babyface chasing the title is usually a more captivating storyline than the babyface fending off the heel challenger, but in the specific case of Reigns, I don't think this did him any real favors moving forward.
First, his very first world title win isn't very memorable. Sure, it counts, but it won't stick in the fans' minds like Steve Austin's or Shawn Michaels' first title victory — both of which took place at WrestleMania.
Reigns' first ascent to a world title match was already squandered back at WrestleMania, but I almost give that one a pass given the unique circumstances that surrounded the match.
With that being the case, when he finally got the world title, it had to really mean something. Unfortunately, it didn't. The title match was forgettable, and it happened on a show that didn't deliver overall.
It feels eerily similar to the way Daniel Bryan lost the WWE title at SummerSlam back in 2013. That wasn't Bryan's first official world title win, but it sort of felt like it was because he defeated John Cena clean in the main event.
Randy Orton came out to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase and was successful thanks to some help from Triple H, and The Authority was born.
While that sounds very similar to what happened Sunday night, the two situations are very different. Bryan was the most popular guy on the roster at the time, which helped him get into the match to begin with.
Because of his popularity, and his lack of size, it made him a sympathetic underdog that people wanted to get the redemption of winning back the title he shouldn't have lost.
The only problem was that wasn't in WWE's plans at all. You can tell by watching Survivor Series that WWE is planning on telling that story moving forward. The constant shots of a distraught Reigns and the scene of him dejectedly walking to the locker room after Sheamus ran off with the title are indications that WWE is telling the redemption story again.
The only thing is that Reigns isn't overwhelmingly popular like Bryan, and neither is he a sympathetic figure. It just feels like a repeat storyline from a little more than two years ago. Because of that, I don't think the fans will buy into the story as WWE hopes they do.
The Undertaker's coronation fell flat
The WWE made a big production out of the 25th anniversary of The Undertaker's debut in the company, only for him to take part in a glorified squash to commemorate the occasion.
First off, the angle was so bad here. The Undertaker's 25th anniversary deserved a better storyline than this coming.
On top of that, the match was just average. The Undertaker's entrance was, to be honest, more exciting than the match.
The only good that came out of this was that Bray wasn't the one pinned. That distinction went to Luke Harper because we all know Wyatt has been pinned enough by almost any person he has had a program with.
This match was a prime example of WWE not looking too far into the future with its booking. It clearly looked at having The Undertaker available for Survivor Series as a chance to create some buzz for the show. Nothing more. Nothing less. There was no thought in how to use The Undertaker to make someone else look good.
If that were the case, it wouldn't have booked Wyatt to go against The Undertaker again, as there was no way The Undertaker would lose, which would give Wyatt a victory he desperately needs.
As I wrote earlier, missed opportunities were the theme of the night, and this was a prime example.
WWE Divas title match lacked emotion
After watching the contract signing with Charlotte and Paige from last week's Monday Night Raw, it was clear that the emotional aspect of the feud was intended to be increased a few notches heading into Survivor Series.
Things got personal last Monday, which would usually make for an all-out brawl between the combatants during their pay-per-view match. However, that wasn't the case with Charlotte and Paige. Instead of an all-out brawl, Charlotte and Paige engaged in a wrestling exhibition, exchanging chain holds for minutes at a time.
In a different time and space, I would have enjoyed seeing two divas showing off their mat skills, as it isn't something we get to see very often from them.
Sunday night was not the night for that though. That was the time where you have punches, kicks and harsh words being thrown back and forth. That's what happened at the end of Raw. Charlotte and Paige had to be separated by officials, but they chain wrestled at the pay-per-view.
All of this made for an underwhelming match between two performers who are certainly capable of doing much, much more. It was rather disappointing.
Survivor Series matches were an afterthought
Also a little disheartening was the lack of emphasis put on the traditional Survivor Series matches. Sure, we got two of them, but neither was announced before the show and neither had the feel of a pay-per-view.
The most noteworthy thing to come out of these two matches was the triumphant return of Goldust, who looked as if he hadn't missed a beat.
Tyler Breeze beats Dolph Ziggler
Since the misstep of having him lose his debut match on Raw, WWE has done right by Tyler Breeze by having him come out on top ever since, including a victory over Dolph Ziggler at Survivor Series.
However, here's the problem: Breeze's victory over Ziggler should mean a whole lot. Ziggler is a former world, United States and Intercontinental champion. However, he has been trading wins and losses in mid-card purgatory for so long that it doesn't mean much when someone new pins him. That's because 95 percent of the current roster already have.
Atlanta crowd did not seem too enthused
The fans in Atlanta treated everything on this card as if it didn't mean a whole lot, as they were mostly quiet throughout, especially during the undercard. It would be easy to blame the fans, who have a reputation for having a lassez-faire outlook on sports to begin with. But some blame has to go on WWE for putting so many matches on a pay-per-view that lacked heat and emotion.