The Spotlight On The Survivor Series- Pt. 5-2011

I’m going to jump ahead a bit here on the survivor series retrospective and look back at Survivor Series 2011, a show I attended live at Madison Square Garden.  2011 was one of the more interesting times to be a WWE fan.  CM Punk was going through a period of time in which he was the most popular man on the roster following the summer of punk, Daniel Bryan had become world champion for the first time, the Rock had returned to the company and Zack Ryder had an absolute breakout year.  This was also the year that I attended the Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania and the Survivor Series so it was a pretty big year for me as a fan, you could say.

The 2011 Survivor Series was held live from Madison Square Garden and my buddy from work and I were planning on attending the event since the day tickets went on sale which was a first for me as I’m naturally a last minute planner.  I remember on the Friday leading up the Survivor Series there was a huge WWE party in the city, I believe it was in Penn Station.  CM Punk was there for a meet and greet and there was contest running that you could go to the event and win a private bus tour around New York City with Zack Ryder and Jimmy Hart.  My buddy and I were huge Ryder fans as we watched every Z True Long Island Story the day it came out while at work.  Being that our job only had so many employees, however, it was difficult for us both to get the day off together so we agreed to skip the party, though we did spend the day wishing we were there and scouring twitter for updates and photos from the event.

On survivor series Sunday, I remember my girlfriend at the time, begged me not to go.  There was a big time NY Giants game that night and she made up her mind that despite me dropping about $100 on tickets to the event with my friend, she didn’t want me to go to the show.  Though it was a hard decision,  I went to the show and we ended up breaking up two weeks later.

As for the show itself, this was also, to the best of my knowledge the last pay per view to be held at the Garden, to this date and it was a really big deal for us.  There’s something about going a show at MSG that is like none other.  I remember my buddy and I getting there at Penn Station early enough to grab a bite at Roy Rogers and then went down to wait online with the thousands of fans in attendance.  From the second we got there this crowd was all about Zack Ryder.  There were “We Want Ryder” chants in the lobby as many were frustrated that Ryder was not given a US title match against Dolph Ziggler on this show despite both men petitioning for the match on youtube and twitter, and instead John Morrison was given the match on his last night with the company.

In many ways it’s odd the crowd was so into Ryder as this was also the Rock’s first time back in New York and first match back since his return to the company in early 2011.  That said, When Ryder finally did make an appearance to run off Ziggler, this wasn’t only the biggest pop of the nght but the biggest pop I’ve heard in MSG with the exception of John Cena’s Royal Rumble 2008 return.  In fact, after the show when the Rock was making his speech to the live crowd, the Ryder Revolution, was still out in full force as the crowd chanted over the Rock’s speech until the Rock himself had to say “ Hell Yeah love Zack Ryder Woo Woo Woo and all that stuff!” It was probably the pinnacle of Zack Ryder’s career in many ways and it’s a shame he never really took off to the extent, at least that the New York crowd wanted him to on this night.

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Me and my buddy following the Survivor Series 

Follow the show, I remember my buddy and I racing out of the arena, past the idiot fans who were almost arrested for having a hardcore match taking unprotected chair shots to the head with the chair they got from the floor seats of the show, and down the street to a small theater.  We had tickets to a Mick Foley comedy show that were on sale for only $5 the week before.  This was still during the period of time where Mick just wanted to show people what he can do as he was still pretty early into his comedy run.

Mick was really good that night, he’s gotten better since, but with a bunch of diehard WWE fans in attendance following the Surivor Series, he was on fire. I remember there was a small VIP area that had a few Superstars there to watch like Dolph Ziggler and John Morrison.  Unfortunately, in New York City when you’re taking the long island railroad at least on the Port Washington line the trains leaving Penn station run on a schedule of 11:15, 12:15, 1:15 and then 3:15.  Thus, with work the next day, my friend and I agreed that we had to catch the 1:15 train.  What we didn’t think was that Mick would still be on the stage come 1AM.  This led to an embarrassing moment where my buddy and I had to run out of a small theater in an attempt not to be noticed only to have Mick say “Ladies and Gentleman, I’m so bad people are actually running out of the theater. “

When I was getting ready for bed that night, I checked the twitter feeds of some friends I knew were in attendance at the Foley show and at 2:30AM one of my friends tweeted that he was on line waiting to meet Mick.  Two thoughts crossed my mind, 1) Damn I missed a free Mick Foley meet and greet and 2) We probably wouldn’t have gotten out of there in time to catch the 3:14AM train!

All in all though another really fun experience that actually is probably most remembered not only for Ryder’s huge night but also for the first night of CM Punk’s 400+ day title reign.  I’ll end by saying that by reminiscing about this show, above all else, it makes me hope WWE runs the Garden for a pay per view again someday because there really is nothing like it. New York City is a great WWE crowd.

The Spotlight On The Survivor Series-Pt. 3- 1997-2001

A new day (clap clap) and a new batch of Survivor Series past as we continue down our trip down memory lane with our complete WWE Survivor Series Retrospective.  Today we will get into five different Survivor Series events and we’ll start with Survivor Series 1997, live from Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Survivor Series 1997- Hmm I can’t think of too much that happened during the Survivor Series 1997.  It wasn’t really a noteworthy show by any means, I mean can you recall any of the matches because I sure can’t.  Ah, it was Kane’s debut match, that was it, that’s why the Survivor Series 1997 is looked back on so much, right?  Ok, I’m obviously kidding.  We are actually nearly 18 years to the day of the Montreal Screwjob which took place during the main event between Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart.  At the time watching it as an 11 year, I can tell you that I had no idea what was going on during the show other than I thought it was really peculiar that Vince McMahon wasn’t doing commentary for the show.  I remember my father actually breaking the news to me that night that Vince was the owner of WWF and perhaps he had some business to take care of, he was right.  It turned out that Vince McMahon would never rejoin the commentary team and instead he went on to become one of the biggest villains in the history of WWE, as this was the night Vince screwed Bret out of the WWE World Heavyweight Title.  The fallout for this was pretty historic as in many ways, with it being used as the vehicle to start the Mr. McMahon heel persona, really launched WWE into the dominance and helped to launch the Attitude Era.  What I always found odd about this was I remember that it was first reported that Shawn Michaels wasn’t in on it and, being a huge Shawn fan I believed every word he said.  If you watch the match he looked really pissed off about the whole thing.  Of course years later he came clean and admitted that he was in on it.   I actually did a college paper for a media class looking at the Montreal Screwjob comparing all different forms of media and how they presented their thoughts on the screwjob.  I compared Dave Metlzer’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter to WWE’s old confidential show, which is where it was first revealed  that Shawn Michaels was in on the screwjob, to Bret Hart’s documentary “Wrestling With Shadows.  I aced the class and my paper came out to over 40 pages long, that poor professor.

Survivor Series 1998:  Survivor Series 1998 was actually the first Survivor Series not to have any traditional Survivor Series matches but I don’t remember minding one bit as this show was all about the Deadly Game tournament.  The first thing that I remember about this show was that it was such a brilliant story that unfolded throughout the show.  This was the era  where everyone was potentially  in cahoots and you would watch with the idea of seeing how Vince McMahon was going to try to screw over Stone Cold Steve Austin.  It appeared that throughout the show Vince McMahon was having poor Mankind do his bidding for him and that the two men Vince did not want to be champion were Steve Austin and The Rock.  I remember Mankind had a first round opponent that was hyped like crazy and my friends were all throwing out different ideas of who it could be. I remember my buddy and I calling the Ultimate (a near by wrestling store) and asking the guy running the store who the mystery opponent was and he thinking it was either Jake Roberts or Mike Tyson, which looking back what was he thinking.  It ended up being setup as it was long time jobber, Duane Gill who later went on to be Gillberg.  Serously though if you go back and watch all of the twists and turns it is storytelling at its finest.  From Shane McMahon (who was my favorite growing up) screwing Austin to the McMahons ultimately joining the Rock and screwing Mankind one year after the infamous Montreal Screwjob. It is the attitude era at its peak.

Survivor Series 1999-  Here was another show that I remember my father being infuriated about and with good reason.  The promoted main event for this show was a triple threat match between The Rock, Triple H and Steve Austin.  Obviously, this is an awesome main event but it never happened.  Instead, in the middle of the show, Austin was laid out in the back and taken away.  He went on to randomly being replaced by the Big Show, who won the title, but we all thought this was very lame and hoped Austin would emerge from the back during the main event, but he never did.  I understand now why they promoted him, but knowing he was hurt the whole time and couldn’t compete, it really was a bit lame looking back.  One match on this show that I do remember being a ton of fun was Chris Jericho vs. Chyna.  The crowd that night was so hot for Jericho and pretty much completely turned on Chyna.

Survivor Series 2000-  This is the one show that for whatever reason I can’t remember too much  about.  The main take away from the show was that it ended with Steve Austin taking a car with Triple H in it and lifting it up high with a forklift, then dropping the car and pretty much killing Triple H as the show went to black.  Of course, Triple H would return three weeks later with a smiple bandaid and they wrote it off to him being able to get out of the car at the very last second.  As a 13 year old who just lost Owen Hart the year before, I was glad to see Hunter was OK. Sidenote: Shoutout to the Undertaker’s awkward pair of pants here.

Survivor Series 2001- The culmination of the invasion storyline which saw a collection of matches in which Team WWE battle against Team Alliance (WCW and ECW).  I remember being really over most of the Alliance guys at this point and I just wanted the WWE back.  The invasion storyline just pretty much died on a vine because most of the big stars from WCW were still under contract to Time Warner so it would still be quite some time before guys like Hogan, Hall, Nash, Goldberg, Scott Steiner and Sting made their way to WWE, hell even Rey Mysterio wasn’t around.  This made for a good amount of team WCW/ECW consisting of WWE guys like Steve Austin, who was the face of WWE when WCW went out of business. While the Invasion didn’t work, this is actually a pretty kick ass show as a standalone show.  The main event in particular is such a great Traditional Survivor Series match, possibly the best ever.

Well that’s going to do it for me but tomorrow, I’ll be back with a complete spotlight dedicated to the Survivor Series 2002, which I attended live at Madison Square Garden.

The Spotlight On The Survivor Series- Pt. 1- The Early Years 1987-1995

It’s hard to believe it but we are just a little over two weeks away from the WWE Survivor Series.  It was announced yesterday that this year’s Survivor Series will feature a tournament to crown a brand new WWE World Heavyweight champion following Seth Rollins’ injury this past week.  However, before we get to this year’s event, I thought that with Survivor Series coming up I thought it might be fun to take a look back at some of my more memorable Survivor Series moments throughout the years.  Now, I’m not going to break down every Survivor Series in full detail, but I will touch on each event and I will spend a bit more time on the events that took place nearby in my neck of the woods (New York) or that I attended live.  I’m going to do one of these each day of the week and I’m also going to thrown in some different types of Survivor Series history countdowns throughout the next two weeks.  Hopefully, these will get you guys prepared for the big shows.  Without further ado, let me kick off this series with a look back at some of my memories from the early survivor series events.

The first Survivor Series I remember ordering live was actually the Survivor Series 1991.    This kicked off a four year tradition in which WWE did the Survivor Series live on Thanksgiving Eve.  Prior to this, Survivor Series was actually held on Thanksgiving Day.  Let me tell you, the idea of spending the day with the family, watching the parade in the morning and football during the day all the while eating a great feast and then ending off the day with the Survivor Series sounds incredible.  Unfortunately, i was too young to remember that and my family didn’t have cable until 1991 so I only remember having the Survivor Series on Thanksgiving Eve. That being said, being able to prepare for Thanksgiving with some wrestling was still pretty cool and was a reason why I still equate Survivor Series with one of my favorite holidays to this day.  I fondly remember my family gathering around the television set watching two teams of five strive to survive and then waking up to watch Santa Claus come into town at the main event of the Macy’s Day Parade the next morning.  I suppose WWE moved the event away from Thanksgiving because of how busy people are during the holidays.  That being said, having the event centered around Thanksgiving added to the Survivor Series identity.  To this day, my father and I will reminisce about those first batch of Survivor Series shows and remember the days when the only turkey that meant something to our family was…the Gobbledy Gooker!

Memories

1987-1989: The thing about these shows is that I actually didn’t see them until the early 2000s.  There was a local wrestling store that rented out wrestling tapes (like a wrestling blockbuster) and I rented each one from there and loved each one of them.   I remember the uniqueness of the two teams made up of five random superstars battling in the ultimate match for survival taking up the entire card and that gimmick match remains one of my favorites to this day.  A good survivor series elimination match rivals only the royal rumble as my favorite match to go back and watch if ever I’m bored or have 20 minutes to kill.  I just loved all of the unique pairings and the different team names like Rude’s Brood or the Roddy’s Rowdies.  The matches that really stood out to me during the first two events, in particular, had to be the tag team survivor series matches.  These matches were so cool in that instead of it being five superstars on each team, there were five tag teams on each team (20 men and 10 teams in the match total) .  When one guy would be eliminated his entire team would be eliminated and the match would continue until only one team was left standing.  It’s incredible to think that there were ten viable teams on the roster and being a fan of tag team wrestling, it’s something I hope to see once again in WWE.

1990- The thing I really liked about this survivor series and for some reason was only done one time was the Ultimate Survival match.  Throughout the night there was a series of traditional survivor series matches and then at the end of the night all of winners who were good guys squared off against all of the winners who were bad guys.  A really fun idea, that  to this day I think this would be a cool concept to bring back for any event.  Of course the 1990 show is also remembered most fondly for two debuts, the Undertaker and the Gobbledy Gooker.  I remember being petrified of the Undertaker as a child, it was just something I was prepared for at all.  As for the Gooker, yes he was silly, but as a four year old, i loved him.  I would often hope for the Gooker to make a return and even used my Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat hasbro higure as the gooker from time to time.  The Gobbledy Gooker was the only turkey that mattered to my family.  In all serious though, as a fan at the time, it had to be a let down.

1991- This was the first Survivor Series to feature a non traditional survivor series match in the form of the World Title Match between Hulk Hogan and The Undertaker. While, in the beginning, I always felt like standard matches had no place on the Survivor Series card, I understood why the change was made.  Prior to 1991, the Survivor Series never had any titles on the line.  Thus, if you measured shows based on title changes for their level of importance, Survivor Series never really had anything you had to see from that perspective.  If you didn’t dig the Survivor Series elimination match concept, chances are you’d skip the show.  Thus, adding a good mix was necessary for the long haul and I’m glad WWE has kept the traditional survivor series matches at least to some extent.  If there was one other thing I remember about this show was how much as a 5 year old I was excited that they were adding in another show “This Tuesday In Texas” and how annoyed my poor dad was who knew he was about to be suckered out of more money by Vince McMahon.  Looking back, I could see where my dad was coming from.  The hottest storyline at the time was between Randy Savage and Jake Roberts (remember the snake bite) but they were taken off their teams and the main event here was a throwaway 6 man with the LOD and Bossman against IRS and the Natural Disasters.  Savage and Roberts ( a focal point of the build to this show), were held off until This Tuesday In Texas.  Even the title change on Survivor Series was done to build up the rematch at This Tuesday In Texas.  Of course, five year old me just thought more wrestling and we had to order it but it really leaves a bad taste in my mouth in regards to Survivor Series 1991

1992– Survivor Series 1992 was the year in which they really moved away from the traditional Survivor Series Tag matches to the fact there was only one.  In a way it made sense as WWE only had four pay per views a year and so it was as if  they were looking for a way to try and put on a third standard supershow like Summerslam and Wrestlemania.  The thing that stood out to me here, even at six years old, was how random it was that Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels main evented this show just because it seemed it a little early for Michaels.  One other thing I remember at the end was when it randomly started snowing in the arena and Santa came down to celebrate with Bret.  Maybe a little hokey but for it’s time it was great.  It solidified that Bret was a main eventer for the company because that was stuff you would only see Hogan do in the late 80s, early 90s.

1993– This one is almost certainly just me but go back and start the 1993 survivor series.  Although it’s a little hokey, I really liked the Happy Thanksgiving message from the Luger family.  Going back to what I said about always thinking about the survivor series as part of a Thanksgiving tradition, I thought this was a nice touch.  I would have loved to see some more of the superstars saying what they were thankful for and sending wishes all the while, similar to the start of the Survivor Series 1989.  It would have added to the events in a similar way that that the messages from the troops do to those Tribute to the Troops specials that WWE does so well with.

1994- King’s Court Vs. Clowns R Us! Ah, the good old days!  Other than that, Owen Hart did the best job ever in being believable during his crying routine during the title match.  I remember thinking that the Backlund was actually crazy and really hurting Bret so much that even Owen had a change of heart.  Of course in the end it was all an act and I bought it hook line and sinker!

1995- The thing I remember most about this show was just how afraid of the Undertaker I was when he returned at this show with the Phantom of the Opera like mask.  I mean look at him above.  If you’re telling me you weren’t scared then I’m calling you a liar.  Seriously though, I had my father turn off the TV and I listened to the feed over the stereo over the speakers while my dad and (6 year old) sister ran upstairs to watch the match on another television.  How embarrassing.

That’s going to do it for the first part of my  WWE Survivor Series retrospective, check back here later today when I’ll take you guys back for a trip through the WWE Survivor 1996 which took place right here in New York City.  Until then, I’d love to hear some of your early Survivor Series memories.

The Spotlight On The Week Ahead In WWE: 11/9-11/15

Hello everyone and a happy Monday to each and every one of you. With a new week upon us I figured it would be a fun idea to take a look at the week ahead for WWE. Please note that at the end of this piece I’m going to have some (hopefully) fun bits of news regarding this website and the wrestling material that I have planned for all of you over the week as well. Let’s get right into it with some highlights of the week ahead in WWE.Highlights:

Manchester Mayhem: WWE heads to the United Kingdom to tape both Raw and Smackdown. Now for those of us in the New York City Area, Manchester is actually 5 hours ahead of us and so as I type this piece up right now, WWE is preparing to tape Raw live in just a little under two hours. With the tape delay, I’ve noticed in the past that while the Raw tapings in the UK often have strong in ring work (often stronger than many of the matches taped for Raw here in the States), there often isn’t as much storyline development when Raw heads to the UK. I don’t know if that’s because of the time difference and the fact that, with the way social media works, many spoilers get out prior to Raw airing on television or what but this is what I’ve noticed. Well, I don’t expect that to be the case tonight as tonght’s Raw will be the first live WWE broadcast since the news broke of Seth Rollins’ injury and it was announced that a tournament would be held to crown a new world champion at the Survivor Series on November 22nd. Here is what we do know right now in regards to Raw and Smackdown this week, WWE.com has confirmed that the tournament for the world title would kick off tonight on Raw and continue into Smackdown for the rest of the week. While not confirmed, I would think there would be 16 superstars competing in the tournament and they’ll have 2 first round matches on Raw and Smackdown both this week and next then hold the final 8 of the tournament live on the Survivor Series. It is certainly possible that the tournament would only have 8 participants or that they would do the first round this week and the second round next week then have the final four of the tournament at the Survivor Series but that remains to be seen. Personally I think this is great idea for WWE as it drives up the interest of Smackdown and makes that show a more “must see” program so that you can see the tournament matches. There hasn’t been any brackets released as of yet but I personally hope that we don’t see the brackets and instead they announce each matchup as they occur. I also know, and this is a bit of a SPOILER, that the Undertaker is locally advertised for tomorrow’s Smackdown taping and so it’ll be interesting to see if he is simply there for the live crowd following the taping or if perhaps he’ll get involved in the tapings this week to respond to the actions of the Wyatt family and continue the build for his involvement at the Survivor Series. 

Why, Joe, Why?: From an NXT, one of the big questions going into this week’s NXT is why Samoa Joe turned his back on former tag team partner and NXT World Champion, Finn Balor at the end of last week’s NXT television. If you haven’t seen last week’s NXT, I suggest going out of your way to do so. There is a really strong main event between Finn Balor and Apllo Crews for the NXT world title and the turn by Joe at the end was so well done and seemed to really shock the crowd. Also during that match, Baron Corbin attacked Crews, costing him the match. One would assume that the build for NXT Takeover:UK would continue this week and push towards a world title match between Balor and Joe (A match that on paper looks incredible) and, perhaps, a number one contender match between Crews and Corbin. Not bad at all and I’m interested to see how we get there on NXT this week.  
New Network Programming: There is also a good amount of original programming coming to the WWE Network this week. For starters, a brand new episode of WWE Breaking Ground will air on the Network immediately following Raw. If you haven’t seen the first two episodes so far. , I suggest you check those out as Breaking Ground is a really unique show as the WWE Network cameras peal back the curtain and really gives fans behind the scenes access to NXT that we’ve never seen anything like in WWE before. It almost reminds me of what the NFL does with Hard Knocks, especially the scene last week where Devin Taylor gets fired.  Aside from that this week, a new episode of Table For Three will debut featuring William Regal, Wade Barrett and Sheamus. Table For Three is a lot of fun and an easy watch if you have an extra 20 minutes to do so. Finally, the piece I’m actually looking most forward to checking out on the WWE Network is the First Look at the WWE Christmas DVD that’s going to be released tomorrow, hosted by Mick Foley. As you will all find out next month, I’m a huge fan of Christmas and have always enjoyed seeing the holidays tied into WWE. This should be a fun release, albeit a little short, especially with Foley’s involvement in the project. There are few more passionate about Christmas than Mick Foley.

The Spotlight On The Survivor Series: Alright time for my big announcement regarding this week on the site. I’m sure most of you scrolled past the WWE stuff to read this section here (more like will skip this part). In any event with Survivor Series taking place in just 13 days, I thought it would be fun to take a look back on some of my memories of the different Survivor Series past, starting with tonight. I’ll warn you that some of the events will be covered briefly with a thought or two about what I remember about the shows but there will be posts dedicated to specific Survivor Series events that took place either near my hometown of New York City, had historical significance or that attended live. We’ll kick off this unique retrospective tonight looking at the first 9 Surivor Series events from 1987-1995. This should be a lot of fun and then this weekend, the retrospective will conclude with a countdown on the top 10 Traditional Survivor Series of all time. 

That’s going to do it for right now but enjoy the week in WWE and keep it locked in for all of your wrestling needs to thedailyspotlight.com!