For the past week, many wrestling fans have been excited about the idea of the Survivor Series pay-per-view being headlined by a traditional 10-man Survivor Series main event.
But WWE seemingly couldn't leave well enough alone. After rushing to announce the two teams - led by WWE Champion CM Punk and WWE legend Mick Foley - on last week's episode of Raw, WWE seems to have let its own doubt run rampant and cause major adjustments to the teams and the PPV card as a whole.
Raw opened with a pre-taped segment in which former Intercontinental Champion The Miz walked away from Team Punk. Things would further disintegrate later in the show when Vince McMahon ordered Raw Supervising Manager Vickie Guerrero to book Punk, Ryback and John Cena in a triple threat match at the pay-per-view, taking Punk and Ryback off their respective teams.
Dolph Ziggler and Wade Barrett were added to the former Team Punk. Barrett replacing Miz is acceptable, especially given his recent issues with Randy Orton, who now may be the de facto leader of the other team in Ryback's absence. Ziggler, now the team captain, seemed poised for a match with Cena, which could have elevated his profile, but now he's thrown into the elimination match for no real rhyme or reason, other than Guerrero picking Punk's replacement.
There's no word on who will replace Ryback on his team's squad.
Fans who were excited for a traditional Survivor Series match to main event the pay-per-view that bears its name can now feel let down, knowing Cena returns to his spot atop the pay-per-view scene to participate in the triple threat match for the WWE Championship. It was likely too novel a concept for the title to not be on the line as a means of making another match more meaningful.
This same triple threat match could have easily been done at the TLC pay-per-view in December to give conclusion to Punk's rivalries with both Cena and Ryback. Unless, of course, the plan is to do a title switch and then give Punk his rematch in TLC and allow whoever would win (presumably Cena) to go to the Royal Rumble and face The Rock.
No matter the thought process, these are things that should have been determined and decided before rushing the announcement of the Survivor Series teams last week. These kinds of rash decisions and on-the-fly changes rub the most loyal of fans the wrong way, and it is a blemish on the WWE's product.
People were genuinely excited for the 10-man eliminator, and while the new lineups don't necessarily take away from the quality of the match, they make it seem far less important in the grand scheme of things.
Survivor Series has become just another stop on the road to WrestleMania in recent years, and it appears that reputation will continue for at least one more. Maybe one day it will be restored to its former glory. It's just a shame that Hell in a Cell can be built around a Hell in a Cell match, Money in the Bank around a Money in the Bank match and TLC around TLC variations, but at Survivor Series, the Survivor Series match becomes a midcard afterthought.
- Referee Brad Maddox, who screwed Ryback at Hell in a Cell, explained his actions at the PPV by saying he always wanted to be a WWE superstar, and this was the route he had to take to the make it to the big stage. Some were quick to criticize Maddox's mannerisms and mic skills, but isn't the gimmick that he should be nervous and not confident? His rationale was sound, but he just bucked the system as the new guy. The odd part is that Maddox wants to make a name for himself by facing Ryback. Why would he want to face the guy who was going to manhandle and defeat the longest reigning WWE Champion in history if not for his help? McMahon said it best when he called it a "death wish." Anyway, Maddox will face Ryback next week with a $1 million contract on the line. This will certainly be interesting to see how it pans out.
- The drama between Cena, Guerrero, Ziggler and AJ continued to be ridiculous. Guerrero's "evidence" was laughable once again, and this storyline becomes even more questionable when you consider it's seemingly no longer leading to a Cena vs. Ziggler match (unless it's going to be extended beyond Survivor Series, which would be unfortunate). Cena was at least good for a laugh, as he pointed out that Guerrero running a fair show would be as impossible as him adding a new move to his repertoire The Encyclopedia Brown reference also receives a thumbs up.
- Rey Mysterio, Sin Cara and R-Truth opened the show with a win over the Primetime Players and United States Champion Antonio Cesaro. The match picked up a bit in the final few minutes, but it still never seemed to hit full gear. What they did was good, but I would expect more out of the men involved. The feud between the Players and the masked luchadors would be more interesting if it wasn't so lopsided. R-Truth now holds a pinfall over Cesaro, which advances their rivalry and should set Truth up for a title shot. Overall not a bad way to start the show.