WWE returned to pay-per-view (PPV) -- WWE Network for most of us -- last night (Sun., Nov. 23, 2014) with its Survivor Series event at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri featuring a historic show if only because Sting, the biggest star to never work for Vince McMahon, made his debut.
Catch up on full results and the live blog by clicking here. Let's get right to reacting to all the night's events.
He is Sting
I can't believe he's here. After almost an entire year of rumors and teases and more rumors and a video game deal and press events and interviews and more rumors, he's finally here.
I was 10 years old when Sting was working his way through the nWo in 1997, haunting Hulk Hogan until he finally got the chance to take him down at Starrcade 1997. He was my hero the whole way. Before Stone Cold Steve Austin, before The Rock, hell, before WWE, I was a little Stinger.
If only for a moment, I felt like I was a kid again, watching in wonder as the the silent guardian of all that is good laid waste to the evildoers who tortured the existence of all who dared oppose them.
He didn't speak.
He didn't blink.
He waited until Triple H made his move, and he swiftly sidestepped a punch to deliver a kick that set up the Scorpion Death Drop. I couldn't help but flash back to 1997 WCW, Sting climbing out of the ring, grabbing Eric Bischoff by his hair, making Bischoff look into his eyes so he could know just who was doing this to him, and sending him crashing to the mat.
Now, all these years later, he once again served as the last line of defense against The Authority's tyranny.
It felt just.
It felt right.
Do me a favor, Cagesiders: Remind me of this moment the next time WWE booking runs me down. I hope this was as wonderful for you as it was for me.
THAT MAIN EVENT THOUGH
Considering how awful WWE booked everything leading into this match, there was little hope they would deliver once it came time to actually go through with it.
But did they ever.
Mark Henry went down in seconds to a KO from Big Show to open the festivities with an unexpected elimination that greatly affected The Authority's already shaky confidence. With Vince McMahon revealing earlier in the night that Triple H and Stephanie would quite literally no longer hold power over anyone if Team Authority lost, there was a renewed desperation that this quick elimination only served to strengthen.
That came into play later, too.
That's because Rusev, who was booked as one of the strongest members of the squad, was ordered to put Dolph Ziggler through a table on the outside. He failed and was ultimately counted out for it. A desperation move, possibly bolstered by Ryback's quick exit (which may have been the only thing that didn't make sense in this match), but one that didn't kill Rusev off as a character.
Erick Rowan proved he could hang with Luke Harper but when chaos broke out, Seth Rollins helped ensure Harper got the pin on Rowan to further the issue between the two (and it felt big in the moment).
Then came the swerve that wasn't actually a swerve: Big Show turning on John Cena, knocking him out and shaking hands with Triple H before walking out of the match, eliminating himself.
Cena deserved a fate like this. We've been hammering the fact that he failed to act when his team needed him all throughout the past week, despite the fact that he so desperately needed them. Show, with his history, was always the most vulnerable, and, seeing the forest for the trees, took the deal that made the most sense for him.
The absolute best part of all of it, however, was Dolph Ziggler.
If you look back on the past month of shows, it was Ziggler who was taking beating after beating from The Authority and never once backing down. He was dressed down, beat down, dragged through the muck, made to work a steel cage match with Kane, made to work an impromptu title match with Luke Harper, dealt with constant outside interference that cost him the Intercontinental championship he worked so unbelievably hard for, and generally put through hell.
Through it all, he maintained his resolve, he never blamed anyone else, and he vowed to fight until his body failed him. For as much as Cena deserved every one of his teammates walking out on him, Ziggler deserved to be the sole survivor.
That mini-match with Rollins at the end, with the false finishes, and near falls, and interference, and gasping, and scratching, and clawing, and my god, man, this was amazing.
Sting was icing on the cake. You could argue he took some shine off Ziggler. You would be wrong, but you could say that.
Here's the reality: Dolph eliminated every member of Team Authority other than Henry, including Rusev getting counted out when Ziggler avoided his splash on the commentary table. He defeated every one of the devil's demons and, yeah, when the devil himself climbed in to do the deed himself, Dolph needed an angel to come down to even the score.
But that wasn't taking his shine. That was making sure he got his. Remember, Ziggler had the match won before Triple H took the referee out. Twice, even!
When all was said and done, this went better than anyone could have imagined. Hell, I'm ready for Dolph Ziggler vs. Brock Lesnar at this point.
All the rest
John Cena, shine stealer: I didn't want to end the last section on a sour note, so I'll start this one with it. Sting did not steal Ziggler's shine, but Cena certainly tried his best. With Dolph walking out after battling through hell to win for his team, Cena made his way out to ensure he was right there with him for the celebration. It couldn't just be Ziggler's moment. No, Cena had to be there too. Triple H was right again.
Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt: This was a really good, physical match. Nothing fancy, just two intense characters telling a story with their bodies and very clearly working hard to do so. Wyatt countering Dean's crossbody by chest checking him was amazing. That promo for the finish was also strong. That said, you can count me among the camp who felt bad once it became clear this wasn't much more than a promotional tool for what should be an even better match at TLC next month. They're both better served working gimmicks like that, but it short changed this match.
AJ Lee vs. Nikki Bella: On the one hand, I would have liked to see a good, long match between two better-than-you-think workers fighting over a title they both seem to care about. On the other, I quite liked that they recreated the WrestleMania 28 Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus match. Isn't AJ Lee's entire character all about playing mind games with her opponent and that being what gives her an edge at all times? Isn't this, then, the ultimate mind game that she couldn't possibly have been ready for?
Adam Rose & The Bunny vs. Slater Gator: This was a glorified SmackDown angle on a PPV because they needed to fill time and it was obvious. I did like Titus O'Neil responding to Rose telling him he's a god by saying "you've been hanging out with Jesus?" Also, Slater Gator is still a thing and that's a win for us all.
Roman Reigns interview: They really, really want you to think Reigns has a super cool guy attitude but I got more of an "annoying douche bag dudebro" vibe out of this interview. At one point he said he wished he could be in the arena -- even though, by all accounts, he actually was in the arena -- so he could "make it rain up in that BITCH". He was the male Brie Bella. These interviews have gotten better, so that acting coach has made some gains, but they're killing all the fun of his eventual return to the ring with these lame satellite interviews.
The Miz & Damien Mizdow win the tag team titles: This was way too much fun, not because the match was really good -- it wasn't -- but because the crowd's enthusiasm for Mizdow perfectly played into what WWE was always planning to do with the match. The entire story they were telling was that Mizdow, a stunt double who, by default, should be the least visible person in the room at all times, is the most over guy in a Fatal 4-Way tag match involving eight guys who all absolutely hated him for it. That includes his own tag partner, who only let it slide because it meant he won another title. The crowd actually helped lay out the match and it made it so much more entertaining than it would have been otherwise. Really looking forward to the future with these two.
Divas elimination tag match: There were enough mistakes to justify any fan looking to demean women's wrestling in WWE, but it was fine for what it was. I've noticed that the commentary during women's matches is so unbelievably bad that it drags down the action in the ring, which is to say, Michael Cole rarely ever actually calls the action. The interaction between Summer Rae and Paige was highly enjoyable and gives some hope for a fun future program.
Cesaro vs. Jack Swagger: The story before all this was Swagger was written off this show after Seth Rollins Curb Stomped him multiple times on Raw a couple weeks back. Now here he is working on this show. So unbelievably stupid.
The main event was amazing, and Sting debuting is a moment that will live forever. There aren't going to be many more that turn the clock like this.
Still, much of the undercard was bad and it was tough getting to the goods. That drags down the grade.
That's it from me, Cagesiders. Now it's your turn to sound off in the comments section below with all your thoughts on last night's show. How did you like it, if you liked it at all?
All photos via WWE.com.