The boisterous crowd and the deafening fireworks welcomed over 16,000 spectators at Madison Square Garden, in New York City, as well as those watching at home on pay-per-view, to the second longest event in the history of the WWE. The twenty-fifth annual Survivor Series was a display of tremendous and riveting action, headlined by a major in-ring return. The opening contest was for the prestigious United States Championship.

Dolph Ziggler battled John Morrison, in an action-packed match. But, every move Morrison made on offense, was booed heavily by the crowd, even though he is considered a face (fan favourite.) The New York crowd kept chanting “We Want Ryder” (in reference to Zack Ryder, who has become extremely popular because he created his own online shows, and his smooth moves inside the ring.) The challenger probably felt disrespected by the crowd’s verbal outburst. Ziggler retained the title after pinning his opponent with his “Zig Zag” finisher. But, despite the victory, the champion was not done.

He took the microphone, self-promoted himself, and stated that by wrestling twice on back-to-back pay-per-views, he emphasized that he was not showing off. The crowd, again, chanted for Ryder, and the agitated Dolph screamed “he wasn’t there.” Then, Zack Ryder’s music blared across the PA system. He ran to the ring, and attacked the champion, much to the crowd’s approval. A shocked Ziggler, left the ring as Ryder celebrated. The interaction between these stars was done for two reasons: to give the fans a chance to see their hometown hero, and secondly, to further the storyline between them. When that U.S. Title match occurs, I am hoping, that the company does the right thing, by giving Zack his first run with the U.S Championship.

A main attraction of the Survivor Series has always been the traditional elimination matches. This year, the WWE provided the fans with only one of these contests. On one side: Team Barrett, captained by Wade Barrett, was joined by Cody Rhodes, Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger, and Hunico. Their opponents – Team Orton, captained by Randy Orton. Alongside him, were Sheamus, Mason Ryan, Kofi Kingston, and Sin Cara.

This was a thrilling contest that was captivating and exciting. After Ziggler was promptly eliminated with the RKO by Orton, a dejected Wade Barrett met with his team outside the ring. As they were talking strategy, Sin Cara and Kofi Kingston dove through the ropes, landing on their opposition. However, it seemed that Sin Cara had legitimately injured his leg, and because he was unable to continue, was eliminated.

As the match progressed, Sheamus was relentlessly attacking Jack Swagger in a corner of the ring. The referee counted to five, and when Sheamus did not break after the count, the referee had no alternative but to disqualify him. That result left Randy Orton to wrestle Barrett, Rhodes, Swagger, and Hunico. Still stinging from his elimination, Sheamus re-entered the ring before leaving, and clotheslined Swagger. This created an opening for Orton to pin and eliminate Swagger.

With the capacity crowd at M.S.G behind him, Orton continued battling the odds. Hunico tried a move off the top rope, but Randy caught him in a mid-air RKO to eliminate his opponent. Now it was two on one. But, the numbers proved to be too much for Orton. As he was distracted by Cody Rhodes, Wade Barrett, entered the ring, and hit his “Wasteland” move to eliminate Randy, which left Barrett and Rhodes as the survivors for their team.

This was a tremendous contest, with a lot of drama. The end result was not what the fans wanted. However, it proves to me that the WWE might be behind solid, individual pushes for both Barrett and Rhodes, which can only be positive for both these talents. I hope they will be in the main event on a consistent basis in the future. I am curious to see what the WWE does.

In a match that featured two of the company’s largest competitors, the Big Show battled Mark Henry for the World Heavyweight Title. There were a couple of interesting moments in this colossal battle. The first came after Show superkicked Henry. With the champion down in the center of the ring, the challenger did something completely unexpected. He climbed to the top rope, and took a while to balance himself. When he did, he leaped off, and landed a flying elbowdrop on his opponent. It was an amazing site and well-executed move, especially considering it was from a giant. The crowd was absolutely stunned, and it even drew a “Randy Savage” chant. When Henry got back to his feet, Show tried to connect with a punch. Realizing he was in trouble, the champion nailed his opponent with a low blow, getting intentionally disqualified. The Big Show won, but because of the disqualification, Mark Henry retained the title. But, there was more drama to follow.

Earlier this year, Mark Henry wrapped a steel chair around Show’s leg, and used a big splash off the top rope to “break” the leg, causing him to miss a few months of action to “sell” the injuries. The champion was about to perform that act again, but this time Show knocked out his opponent with a punch. He then grabbed the chair, wrapped it around Henry’s leg, and mercilessly stomped on the chair “breaking” Mark’s leg. Fans were cheering because they felt he got what deserved. The champion got to feel the pain Show felt, and maybe, miss a few months of action. He certainly got a taste of his own medicine. So, what will happen to the World title? I am sure the WWE will have answer forthcoming.

The WWE title was at stake as Alberto Del Rio defended it against C.M. Punk. As usual, Ricardo Rodriguez introduced the champion. But, to everyone’s surprise, it was announced that legendary WWE ring announcer, Howard Finkel, would introduce the challenger. Both Finkel and Punk received loud ovations. Once the ring introductions concluded, the match began, and what an exciting battle it was.

There were lots of attempts at submission victories. When Punk locked in the “Anaconda Vice” for the final time in the match, fans were screaming for the champion to give up. Del Rio fought as long as he could, but he had no alternative but to tap out. The M.S.G crowd, that was vocal throughout, stood up and applauded the crowning of C.M. Punk as the new WWE Champion. He even dove into the crowd to celebrate with them. I am thrilled that Punk won the title. I am even happier he did it at an arena where the company has a lot of history – Madison Square Garden. After that contest, fans waited with excitement for the main event.

The Miz and R-Truth entered the arena to a chorus of boos. John Cena entered to his normal mixture of boos and cheers. Finally, Cena’s partner, and Wrestlemania opponent entered. For the first time in seven years, the Rock returned to the WWE as an in-ring wrestler. The crowd cheered wildly at this spectacle, and were equally stunned when the Rock started the match.

The Rock and Cena intensely stared at each other throughout the match. When one member of the team was in trouble, the other did not help. Fans chanted at the Rock “you still got it,” as he executed all his big moves. To end the match, the Rock utilized a spinebuster on the Miz. He then looked at the cheering crowd, removed his elbow pad, tossed it to them, ran the ropes, and dropped the “People’s Elbow” on his opponent. The fans counted out loud, each time the referee’s hand hit the mat for the three count. They did it. The Rock and Cena worked together to win the match, when nobody thought they could. But, something significant happened after the match.

Cena applauded his partner’s efforts from the ramp, as the Rock celebrated in the ring. Then, he motioned for his partner to re-enter the ring. The Rock then climbed to the top of a turnbuckle to soak in the adulation of the audience. The fans chanted “Rocky, Rocky, Rocky. Cena did the same thing, and the fans booed.  The two then had a face-to-face confrontation in the ring, but nobody knows what was said. As Cena went to leave the ring, the Rock stopped him, turned him around, and utilized one of his finishing moves – the “Rock Bottom” on his Wrestlemania opponent. He continued to celebrate in front of the screaming M.S.G. fans.

The WWE provided its fans with a great night of hard-hitting, exciting action. The crowd’s screams were evident when Punk won his second WWE title, and when Rock was the last man standing to end the show. The fact that the main event was booked so the Rock can get the pinfall victory was a special moment and the result sent fans home happy. The interactions and build-up between the Rock and Cena was meant to continue to create animosity between the two for their Wrestlemania 28 main event. The Punk title win was another special moment – as he can always say that he won the WWE title at Madison Square Garden. Overall, I think the WWE did a pretty good job in providing fans with intrigue, suspense, and great wrestling action.

Azeem Kayum

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