The 29th edition of WWE’s Survivor Series in 2015 was the 25-year celebration of WWE legend The Undertaker.
The Undertaker debuted at Survivor Series 1990 and he was still going strong at age 50 for the Survivor Series 2015 event. On this show, The Undertaker was in tag team action while the vacant WWE Title was up for grabs in the main event. The reason the WWE Title was vacant is because Seth Rollins tore his ACL during a live event match on November 4 (which is my birthday), so WWE decided to go with a tournament that ended at Survivor Series.
I wrote this review live when it happened in 2015 and have added updated thoughts in blue font as well.
WWE Survivor Series
Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia
November 22, 2015
The show began with Lilian Garcia singing the national anthem. I think that’s the message. As usual for WWE PPVs, the set was pretty basic. They don’t spend money on elaborate sets anymore, which is a shame.
There was a great video package focusing on The Undertaker’s 25 years in WWE as well as the WWE Title tournament. It ended with the voiceover guy saying history is written by survivors. Also goes without saying, but WWE video packages are fantastic and as good as any sports league. One of the best parts of the company.
Roman Reigns entered for his semifinal match.
The announce team of Michael Cole, John Bradshaw Layfield and Jerry Lawler welcomed us to the show.
As Alberto Del Rio and Zeb Colter made their way to the ring, the Spanish announce team welcomed us to the show. Will the Spanish table survive the night? I doubt it.
WWE Title Tournament Semifinals: Roman Reigns vs. Alberto Del Rio (w/Zeb Colter)
Reigns hit a shoulder tackle on Del Rio early on. They traded offense a bit early on. There were boos for Reigns and some “Roman Sucks” chants too. Del Rio was able to slow down Reigns’ offense by choking him on the top rope and then he hit an enziguiri kick while Reigns was on the apron. Del Rio tossed Reigns into the steel stairs at ringside while Triple H was shown looking at a monitor backstage. Reigns missed a shoulder charge in the corner and hit the turnbuckle, so he was selling the left shoulder injury. Del Rio missed a charge against the rope, which led to him falling feet first out of the ring. That always looks like a dangerous bump to me. Reigns nailed the Drive By dropkick on the side of the ring apron. Back in the ring, Reigns hit a leaping clothesline followed by clotheslines in the corner and then a running boot to the face. Del Rio avoided a Superman Punch and hit a Backstabber for a two count. Snap DDT by Del Rio for two. Reigns was doing his usual offense full of punches as well as clotheslines. They fought by the turnbuckle, Reigns was upside down and Reigns avoided the double foot stomp from Del Rio. Reigns hit a Superman Punch. Del Rio was selling like he was dazed, but then he countered a Spear with a superkick for a two count. The crowd bought that as a nearfall.
Del Rio wanted the Cross Armbreaker, Reigns rolled him up and did a sitout Powerbomb spot for two. Fans were chanting “This is Awesome” even though a lot of them were booing Reigns and chanting against him earlier. Del Rio was able to apply the Cross Armbreaker again. Reigns fought out of it. Del Rio held on so that he could yank the arm against the ropes. Del Rio went up, missed with a leap and Reigns hit a Spear to win at 14:05.
Winner by pinfall: Roman Reigns
The win meant that Reigns moves on to the finals of the WWE Title tournament against Dean Ambrose or Kevin Owens.
Analysis: *** It was a good match that the crowd was into a lot by the end of it. As I mentioned in the review, the same people booing Reigns and chanting about how he sucks ended up chanting “this is awesome” for the nearfalls. That shows that the work of Reigns and Del Rio won them over. I don’t think anybody watching this show thought Del Rio would win, so the result isn’t a surprise by any means. Give them credit for working hard and delivering a solid opening match.
(It was fine for an opening match since it was a tournament semifinal. Roman’s win was really obvious, so that hurts the match a bit in terms of building excitement with nearfalls and stuff like that.)
A new episode of WWE Breaking Ground is on after Survivor Series. I enjoy the show.
Reigns was interviewed by Jojo backstage. Dean Ambrose showed up to congratulate Reigns. He didn’t say a word as they touched fists to celebrate. Reigns said that after Ambrose wins it’s going to be best friends battling for the WWE Title. Kevin Owens showed up to remind Reigns of the times when he fell short of winning the WWE Title. Owens said he’ll be the guy to stop Reigns tonight. He said once he beats his buddy Dean, tonight is the Kevin Owens show. Reigns said that’s what Owens does (talks a lot), but he’s about to get his ass whooped by Ambrose. Believe that.
Analysis: Great promo by Owens like usual. Reigns supporting Ambrose is no surprise.
Dean Ambrose made his entrance followed by Kevin Owens.
WWE Title Tournament Semifinals: Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens
The first few minutes were pretty typical with both guys getting some offense in. I was distracted by Lawler and Cole talking about their WrestleMania 27 match because this show is in Atlanta also. I was at that show and want a refund. Owens was in control with a nice spinning slam of his shoulders. Triple H was shown watching on a monitor backstage. Somebody get him a chair to sit in. Owens yelled “It’s Chinlock city, baby” because he’s the best. Both guys were down at the same time. Owens nailed a backbreaker. He went up for a moonsault, but Ambrose moved and then Ambrose hit a flying elbow attack off the top rope for a two count. Ambrose hit a spinning suplex into a slam off the turnbuckle or a two count. The crowd chanted “this is awesome” for it. Owens told him to stay down and then he told Cole to tell Ambrose to stay down. Ambrose did his bounce off the ropes clothesline to knock Owens down. That was a huge clothesline. Ambrose hit a suicide dive to take out Owens outside the ring. Owens went to the other side o the ring, so Ambrose tried another dive. This time Owens caught him and slammed him onto the announce table. Owens with two superkicks in a row and Ambrose countered a Popup Powerbomb with a hurricanrana. Ambrose hit the Dirty Deeds DDT for the win at 11:20.
Winner by pinfall: Dean Ambrose
It’s Ambrose vs. Reigns in the finals of the WWE Title tournament.
Analysis: ***1/4 A pretty good match that I enjoyed a bit more than the one before it. I liked the match quite a bit because Owens was on offense for much of it and got some good nearfalls in there as well. There was a brief moment where I thought maybe Owens would win the match, but not really. Owens was hilarious with his trash talk throughout the match. I like his matches a lot and he’s probably my favorite active competitor in WWE right now. Ambrose finding a way to win is the right story. It builds to the intrigue o Reigns vs. Ambrose in the finals. The outcome was no surprise since the Ambrose/Reigns final was obvious from the moment they set up the tournament.
(As I noted there, most people assumed it would be Reigns vs. Ambrose in the tournament finals, so that’s what happened. Owens was definitely around this time on his first year on the main roster.)
There was a commercial for WWE TLC PPV on December 13. Three weeks away in Boston.
A video package aired about The Undertaker’s 25 years in WWE. They included sound bites from Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, Triple H and JBL from the specials on WWE Network. I watched both of those shows and I highly recommend them. Some funny stuff on there like when they tried to get Undertaker to do a Spinarooni.
It’s time for the traditional 5 on 5 elimination match. We don’t know who is in the match because this company doesn’t care about midcard matches apparently.
The face team is Ryback, Kalisto, Sin Cara and The Usos. The heel team is The New Day, Sheamus & King Barrett.
The New Day did a pre-match promo with Big E putting over Woods’ James Brown-like hair. Kingston said that they have Mr. Money in the Bank, the King of the Ring and the Tag Team Champions on the same team. Then they mocked the Atlanta sports teams by talking about their lack of titles. There was some bit about Sheamus saying “getting jiggy with it” because I guess that was comedy.
Analysis: I like The New Day, but this promo wasn’t as good as usual. I do like Woods’ hair, though.
Elimination Tag Match: Ryback, Lucha Dragons (Kalisto & Sin Cara) and The Usos (Jimmy & Jey) vs. The New Day (Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston & Big E), Sheamus & King Barrett
This match wasn’t announced beforehand with participants. There is a bit of a rivalry with Usos and New Day, but other than that there’s not much in terms of storyline in this match. There was a big spot early on where the Usos & Lucha Dragons (all four o them) hit dives over the top to take out the heels. Then Ryback went up top for a cross body attack to take out everybody. Cool spot to pop the crowd. The heels worked together in their corner to stomp on Jey. Woods grabbed the trombone to play some music while Big E and Kofi danced on the apron. Barrett even danced with them. Jimmy Uso got the tag or his team and he was against Barrett. Sin Cara hit a Swanton Bomb off the ropes and that was enough to pin Barrett. Really? Yes.
King Barrett eliminated by Sin Cara
The New Day worked together to eliminate Jimmy with Woods hitting a double foot stomp off the top while Kingston was holding Jimmy. They love double foot stomps in this company these days.
Jimmy Uso eliminated by Xavier Woods
Big E made the hot tag and nailed a Spear on Sin Cara while he was on the apron. Sheamus tagged in and hit a Brogue Kick on Sin Cara to eliminate him. Big E was mad that Sheamus tagged himself in.
Sin Cara eliminated by Sheamus
Ryback hit a clothesline on Sheamus to send him out of the ring. Ryback took down Big E, then Kalisto hit a snap hurricanrana on Big E and Jey hit a splash off the top rope to eliminate Big E.
Big E eliminated by Jey Uso
After the elimination, Kingston and Woods were mad about Big E being eliminated. They claimed that Big E was hurt (he wasn’t), so they took him to the back.
Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston eliminated by leaving
Sheamus was alone against three guys. He was mad that his partners left, but he tried to take out Kalisto. Jey nailed a cross body block on Sheamus for two. Forearm smash by Jey followed by a running butt splash in the corner. The announcers didn’t say “shades of his daddy” after that. Sheamus hit the Irish Curse backbreaker for two. Ryback tagged in for the face side, hit clotheslines on Sheamus and then a spinebuster by Ryback. Sheamus got a rollup for two and then a powerslam or two. The face side worked together to beat Sheamus with Ryback hitting Shellshock for the win at 17:33.
Sheamus eliminated by Ryback
Winners: Ryback, Jey Uso & Kalisto
Post match, the faces celebrated the win and then there was a Rolaids commercial without any replays of key moments in the match.
Analysis: **1/4 It was just okay. They didn’t promote the match by announcing any of the participants and there wasn’t much of a crowd reaction. If you’re going to book a match for 20 minutes on a PPV, why not actually promote it on television? Makes no sense to me. I’m not surprised by the babyface victory, but it’s not like any of those faces are pushed that much. Sheamus is holding the Money in the Bank briefcase, but he’s made to look like a loser. I know it didn’t look that bad since he was left alone. I just think he’s been booked so badly for so long that whenever he does try to cash in the briefcase, people aren’t going to care. Barrett losing so early was pretty bad too. This company is sorely lacking in top heels and they don’t book them right even when it would make sense to do so.
(I had no memory of this until I read about it. You can tell my frustration in the paragraph above.)
A video package aired for the Divas Title match. No mention of Charlotte’s late brother in the video package, so at least they were smart enough to not include that in the video.
Divas Title: Charlotte vs. Paige
Paige has ripped legwear because that’s heelish I guess. Can there be a divas match without announcers arguing about “who started the Divas Revolution”? Four months of this. Move on. Paige was the aggressor early on with an attack outside the ring. Paige did an abdominal stretch, but Charlotte got out of it by dropping down to her butt and then hitting a boot to the face. Paige took her down, then mocked Charlotte with a “woo” and Charlotte applied a Figure Four Leglock. Paige turned it over, then Charlotte turned it back and they tumbled to the side with Charlotte applying the hold against the ring apron. Charlotte put Paige on her shoulders and then dropped her face first onto the side of the apron. Charlotte applied a leg lock on the upper body of Paige. Charlotte missed a corner shoulder tackle, so she went into the ring post and Paige dumped her to the floor. The crowd doesn’t seem to care about this match. The girls are working hard, but after ten minutes there isn’t much reaction at all. I did hear a mild chant for Sasha Banks at one point.
They did a big spot out of the corner with Charlotte hitting a neckbreaker off the turnbuckle for a two count. Paige was on offense again, but Charlotte came back with a Spear to take her down. Charlotte hit the Natural Selection neckbreaker that the announcers didn’t call. Outside the ring, Paige tossed Charlotte into the side of the apron and then tossed her into the barricade. Paige tossed Charlotte into the barricade again. Paige stood on the barricade, yelled “this is my house” and Charlotte got back up to Spear her off of there. That’s a unique spot. Mild reaction. Charlotte applied the Figure Eight submission by the ropes and Paige tapped out at 14:18,
Winner by submission: Charlotte
Once again no replays of the key moves in the match. That bothers me because this is a PPV and they should show replays. Charlotte just held up her title.
Analysis: **1/2 It was just an okay match. They tried hard to have a physical match where they each went for submission holds, but the crowd just didn’t seem to care. Even with that big spot by the barricade there wasn’t much of a reaction to them. I feel bad for the girls because of that because they worked their asses off and were given a lot of time. It just didn’t click as well as WWE would have liked. The finish bothered me a bit because Paige was so close to the ropes. They should have done it more towards the middle of the ring. That’s just a minor thing, but it’s important. As for Charlotte retaining, that was no surprise since she has held the title for only two months. I thought it might be a disqualification finish in order to keep the feud going, but that didn’t happen.
(WWE was all about pushing Charlotte over everybody at this point. Some things never change, I guess.)
A clip was shown of Dean Ambrose talking to Jojo after his win earlier. Reigns showed up to congratulate him. Reigns said it’s not about love and hugs. He said he knows Ambrose will bring it and so will he. Ambrose just nodded at him. They touched knuckles.
A commercial aired for the WWE2K16 video game.
Tyler Breeze (w/Summer Rae) vs. Dolph Ziggler
I missed a few minutes of this, but came back to seeing Ziggler hit a dropkick after Breeze jumped off the top rope. Ziggler got some momentum with a nice neckbreaker followed by an elbow drop for two. Breeze rollup for two, then a kick to the ribs and Breeze covered with his hands on the ropes for a two count. Ziggler rollup for two, then another really creative rollup for two. They did a nearfall sequence. Ziggler planted Breeze face first into the mat. Ziggler set up a superkick, Breeze avoided it and Ziggler got a backslide for two. Breeze avoided a kick by ducking out of the way. Breeze kicked him in the knee, hit the Unprettier (Christian’s old finisher) and covered for the victory at 6:41.
Winner by pinfall: Tyler Breeze
Analysis: ** It was good for the time given, but I would have liked to see them get more time. Breeze winning is no surprise since it’s his PPV debut. Plus, this show really needed a heel win because it’s been all faces up to this point. Ziggler re-signed with WWE a few months ago so that he can lose a lot of matches. I would love it if he turned heel, but I guess that’s not happening. Breeze has a bright future. I just hope he continues to get wins.
(My hope for Breeze to continue to get wins didn’t really happen. These guys had a similar look, Breeze was younger and they put him over. It didn’t lead to much.)
There was a commercial for some WWE toys that remind me that I’m too old for this.
A video aired to set up The Brothers of Destruction (Undertaker & Kane) vs. The Wyatt Family.
The heels walked out first. Then Kane. Then The Undertaker entered to a huge ovation. In the background, there were images of his different looks over the years. The camera focused on them as well as his walk to the ring, which of course took several minutes.
The Undertaker and Kane were in the ring. Erick Rowan ran at them. Kane and Undertaker gave him a double Chokeslam. Wyatt stopped Braun Strowman from going and instead he stood on the apron with Luke Harper.
The Undertaker & Kane vs. Bray Wyatt & Luke Harper (w/Braun Strowman)
Kane started with Wyatt. In our preview, I predicted it would be Wyatt/Harper because then they could have Harper take the pin while protecting Strowman, who they want to portray as an unbeatable monster. JBL noted that Rowan went to the back. Undertaker tagged in, wanted the clothesline on Harper, but it was prevented and then Wyatt tagged in. Undertaker hit a leaping clothesline on Wyatt. Harper tagged in, but was met with the Old School clothesline on Harper. Legdrop by the Undertaker on the apron led to the “vintage Undertaker” call by Cole. Kane tagged in, Harper with a clothesline, then a distraction from Strowman with him tossing Kane over the announce table. Undertaker was mad about it, but the ref kept him back. Did the ref see the interference? Of course not. Back in the ring, Harper worked over Kane in the corner. Wyatt tagged in with a running cross body attack on Kane. This would make Kane the Brother of Destruction in peril. Kane avoided a Sister Abigail, hit a DDT and then tagged in Undertaker.
The Undertaker worked over Harper with a clothesline in the corner, then they messed up some spot and Undertaker hit a DDT followed by a legdrop for two. Strowman went on the apron, so Undertaker went after him. Kane helped him out as the Brothers of Destruction did a Double Chokeslam to put Strowman through the table. Back in the ring, Wyatt hit the Sister Abigail on Undertaker as Harper covered for two with Kane making the save. They knocked Kane down. While Wyatt was doing his unique crawl, Undertaker and Kane did the double sit-up at the same time. Then Undertaker did a Chokeslam on Wyatt while Kane did a Chokeslam to Harper. Undertaker picked up Harper and dropped him with a Tombstone. Undertaker pinned Harper to win the match at 10:19.
Winners by pinfall: The Undertaker & Kane
Post match, The Undertaker and Kane posed in the ring. They received a standing ovation from the crowd.
Analysis: ** It was a pretty standard match that was all about having Undertaker hit his signature spots. He looked good for the most part. As I said at the start, Harper getting pinned was the right call. The negative thing about this match is that the Wyatt Family did the job and that’s a bad thing. They could use some wins. They still protected Strowman by not putting him in the match. Yes, he went through a table, but it took two guys to do it. It’s not like he was buried by one guy. I hope Wyatt is booked strongly after this loss.
(They wanted to put over Undertaker on the 25th anniversary. I get that. I’m sure most people expected it. I just think it was bad for The Wyatt Family at the time.)
After some replays, there was another long ovation for The Undertaker in the ring. Then Undertaker walked towards the entrance with Kane by his side and they stared back over their shoulder like they had done so many times. JBL mentioned that we may never see this again. They held up their hands in the air as the Brothers of Destruction were victorious again.
Analysis: That was cool. I don’t know how many more matches The Undertaker has left, so we should enjoy it while he’s still around.
Coming soon to WWE Network: WWE TLC PPV, Steve Austin hosting the Stone Cold podcast with Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels. There’s also a WWE Network show called “Ride Along” with two superstars in a car having a conversation. The Breaking Ground show continues as well. Then there’s a show with Edge & Christian called “Edge & Christian’s Show That Totally Reeks of Awesomeness.” No idea what it’s about, but they’re the best, so I support it.
It’s WWE Title time. Roman Reigns is out first. Dean Ambrose is the final entrant. They were introduced in the ring by Lilian Garcia, which is how WWE does things for WWE Title matches.
WWE World Heavyweight Championship Tournament Finals: Roman Reigns vs. Dean Ambrose
Ambrose is wrestling shirtless although he has his tank top on his jeans. They brawled at the start and Reigns hit a suplex. The action spilled to the floor with Ambrose hitting a spinning clothesline and then a suicide dive to send him into the barricade. Back in the ring, Ambrose with a missile dropkick for two followed by an armbar. Remember that Reigns has been selling the shoulder injury for several weeks. The crowd was doing dueling chants for both guys. Reigns slammed Ambrose down when Ambrose was attacking him in the corner. Reigns hit a Powerbomb for two. Ambrose hit a sunset flip into a Powerbomb although it didn’t look like it connected well. Ambrose jumped off the top rope, Reigns hit a Superman Punch and Ambrose kicked out at two. I like the “Get Well Seth” sign in the crowd. Ambrose went for Dirty Deeds, Reigns fought out of it and Ambrose hit a clothesline off the ropes. Reigns hit a Spear for two. Ambrose came back with a Dirty Deeds for two. That means both guys kicked out of finishers about eight minutes into the match. Both guys were seated in the ring, they shoved each other and then they exchanged punches. The back and forth continued with each guy getting some offense in against the turnbuckle. Ambrose ran at Reigns, but Reigns met him with a Spear and covered him for the victory at 9:02.
Winner and New WWE World Heavyweight Champion: Roman Reigns
Reigns celebrated with the WWE Title. Note the time is about 10:38pmET, so lots of time left in the show.
Analysis: **1/2 It was a shorter match than I was expecting. Reigns winning wasn’t a surprise to me at all. He was the favorite and he won it clean. It would have been better if it was a 20 minute classic with a lot of nearfalls for both guys, but I guess WWE felt like doing a shorter match, which is fine. They could have made that Reigns moment feel like a bigger deal because they really rushed to the finish. However, as soon as it ended like that it started making me think that there would be a Money in the Bank cash in due to how much time was left in the show.
(I was hoping for a better match. It was just average.)
Post match, Ambrose touched fists with Reigns to congratulate his friend. There was confetti and pyro for Reigns. Ambrose left through the crowd.
Triple H’s music hit and he walked out to congratulate Reigns. Hunter raised his arm and then wanted a handshake. Reigns didn’t want that to happen, so he hit a Spear on Triple H.
When Reigns turned around, Sheamus was there to drop him with a Brogue Kick. He cashed in the Money in the Bank briefcase.
WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Roman Reigns vs. Sheamus
Sheamus covered Reigns. It only got a two count. They got back to their feet, Reigns charged the ropes and Sheamus hit another Brogue Kick. Sheamus covered Reigns for the win after less than one minute.
Winner and New WWE World Heavyweight Champion: Sheamus
Analysis: There’s the cash in. I didn’t predict it only because Sheamus has been booked so poorly for the last few months that I thought it would be stupid to do it now. Why book a guy to lose so many matches such as in the first round of this tournament and also on this show? It is as if WWE thinks that nobody will notice that the guy has lost all of those matches. I know that’s how WWE has typically booked MITB briefcase holders in the past, but that doesn’t make it right or a smart decision. I don’t have a problem with Sheamus at all. I think he’s a good performer when he’s in long matches. My problem is the way he’s presented and that’s as a loser. He should have been booked stronger months ago. You should never have a MITB briefcase holder booked as badly as Sheamus has been and then expect people to praise the move when the cash in happens. It will be criticized because fans want to pay to see winners, not losers and in the eyes of a lot of the audience, Sheamus hasn’t been positioned like a winner for the past five months and WWE will have their work cut out for them to make him a believable champion.
(I really didn’t expect the Sheamus win at this show because he was booked so poorly. The title reign ended up being brief with Reigns getting the title back and then more twists after that.)
After the win, Triple H hugged Sheamus. Sheamus posed on top of the fallen Reigns in the ring.
Sheamus and Hunter left together while Reigns was stunned in the ring. The show ended at 10:46pmET.
Analysis: Some PPVs end later than that. I guess they didn’t feel the need to do more.
It gets a 6 out of 10 from me.
The show was very average. I liked the first two matches a lot. Everything else that followed was just okay and nothing that you have to go out of your way to see unless you are a big Undertaker fan then check out that match too.
As I wrote up above, Sheamus has been booked so poorly in the last few month that his win is only going to make people groan or lose interest. I don’t mind him at all. He’s solid in the ring and a pretty good character, but he does get stale at times. My gripe is that he hasn’t been booked well for many months while also not wrestling at every PPV.
If Sheamus was booked to win matches nearly every single week then all of a sudden he would look like this guy capable of cashing in and winning at any time. By booking him how WWE did, they hurt the value of the cash-in because we just saw this guy lose a few hours ago. I know that’s typical WWE booking because they have booked past WWE MITB holders like that. I don’t like it and think it’s a backwards way of doing things.
The show could have been a lot better, but I don’t think WWE creative is doing a good job right now. Hopefully things pick up in the new year and that something happens to get people excited. The product is stale right now. Putting the WWE Title on a guy that barely wins any matches isn’t going to help long term either.
Five Stars of the Show
- The Undertaker – I respect his career and 25 years of doing this.
- Roman Reigns
- Dean Ambrose
- Kevin Owens
- Alberto Del Rio
That’s all for me. Check out the full list of my WWE PPV Review archive right here. Thanks for reading.
My contact info is below.