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. 4- 2002

2002 has to be the most under rated year for WWE, you had the debuts of John Cena, Randy Orton and Brock Lesnar, you had the in ring returns of Hulk Hogan and Shawn Michaels and you had one of the most impressive mid cards ever to take place in the WWE. 2002 was also a year in which I attended my first live WWE pay per view when a buddy and myself went to the SummerSlam 2002 at the Nassau Colliseum (which you can read my recap of in the August archives) I’d say it was the year that I also got really into live pay per views because to me there was nothing like a live pay per view. It was just such a great atmosphere. Thus, when I turned 16 that October I was pleasantly surprised when my parents got me two tickets to the 2002 Survivor Series! This would be my first pay per view ever to come live from Madison Square Garden and to say I was excited was the ultimate understatement. The only question left was who I would take with me to the show. I was heavily involved in my own basement wrestling federation (sad I know) at the time and I already had a blast at SummerSlam with my buddy jimmy but I was suddenly now torn over a few buddies who wanted to come with. After much deliberation, I asked my father to come with me. My father’s interest in wrestling had started to wane but he had taken me to my very first wrestling show at Madison Square Garden so I thought he’d be the perfect person to attend my first pay per view at the garden with.

What was also cool about that birthday was that I had also got an autograph ticket from my family to meet Shawn Michaels in Howard Beach at Video Game Central the night before the Survivor Series. This time my mom was coming with as Shawn was always her favorite wrestler. This was Shawn’s first title match since his return to WWE at summerslam of that year and, to me anyway, he was the focal point of that event. It was crazy to have Shawn at this autograph signing only 30 minutes from my house and was one of the truly starstruck moments of my life. I remember it was pouring rain and blistering cold out in the November New York weather. Despite this and despite my mother just getting out of surgery, my mother stayed on that line with me and my buddy for three hours to meet Shawn.  Ever the professional, I distinctly remember Shawn telling me after I wished him luck, “Thanks bud, many think I’m nuts to compete in such a big match and honestly I don’t know how many more of these I have in me.”  He went on to wrestle for another 7+ years.

As for the event itself, I remember that this was the first show I had attended at the Garden since 9/11 the year before and the security was insane.  I had to remove my hat, people were being asked randomly to remove their shoes and my dad was asked to remove his cell phone and flip it open (remember flip phones?) for some reason.  It took forever to file into the Garden that night, but once we finally did get in, it was sure worth it. The guys at Busted Open Radio (which airs 2-4pm Monday, Tuesday and Friday on Sirius/XM 92) actually did a live tweeting of this show last year and it reminded me of what a great show this was, despite the fact that there weren’t any traditional survivor series matches on the show.

From the beginning, the crowd was in an absolute frenzy as Jeff Hardy did one of his famous swanton bombs off the rafters through a table and then later in the same match the Dudleys reunited to great fanfare.

One of the other big things about this show was the debut of Big Poppa Pump Scott Steiner who debuted for the company that night following the expiring of his contract from WCW (18 months after WCW closed it’s doors I might add).  I know that Scott’s WWE career as Big Poppa Pump didn’t really go anywhere but go back and watch this debut, he was over huge.  Surrounding that debut was also a lot of fun I remember going nuts because I was a huge Matt Hardy fan (always one of my favorites to this day) and I also loved the RNN News skits which featured Randy Orton promoting his return, he was so good even at 22 years old.

From here ya can’t talk about this show without talking about the Smackdown Six.  This was the peak of the smackdown six,to me, which featured Kurt Angle, Rey Mysterio, Edge, Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero and Chavo Guerrero.  This, in my opinion was the peak of the WWE midcard in any era and it breaks my heart to think two of the six have tragically passed and 5 of the 6 have mostly retired at this point.

If there was one man in WWE in 2002 that defined the year, it’d perhaps be the same man who’s synonymous with WWE in 2015…Brock Lesnar.  I remember the Garden crowd being so into Brock and at the time he was the WWE champion and still undefeated.  This obviously was the night in which he lost due to Paul Heyman turning on Brock.  That turn stunned the crowd and I remember after Brock hit the F5 people started celebrating thinking it was over only to have Paul yank the referee. To this day, it still amazes me whenever Brock lifts the Big Show with such ease.

In the end, I remember being really excited for the Elimination Chamber as it was the first Chamber match in history on this show and look at the six men in the match.  A who’s who of hall of fame level talent in Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Chris Jericho, Kane, Booker T and RVD.  This was the match in which RVD landed a five star frog splash and crushed Triple H’s larynx.  I also remember, other than Shawn, Booker T may have been the most over man in the match.  My father and I had a great time doing the “5 Time!” routine in the crowd with our entire section.  In the end, Shawn Michaels (proving to me he was in fact playing me the night before, which I couldn’t be happier about) won what would end up being his final world title in WWE.  As the confetti rained down on Shawn it was probably the best live moment for me as a fan until I was live for Wrestlemania 30.

All in all just a great and enjoyable show from top to bottom that more than holds up today as so much happened on that show it’s unbelievable to even think.  The show for me is memorable as it was the last show I attended live with my dad who’s interest in the product had really fell off then so it was the end of a 16 year era but what a finale we had.  That’s gonna do it for my journey through Survivor Series 2002, next up we’ll time travel nine years in looking back at survivor series 2011.

The Spotlight On Tommy At The Garden- Survivor Series 2002

2002 has to be the most under rated year for WWE, you had the debuts of John Cena, Randy Orton and Brock Lesnar, you had the in ring returns of Hulk Hogan and Shawn Michaels and you had one of the most impressive mid cards ever to take place in the WWE. 2002 was also a year in which I attended my first live WWE pay per view when a buddy and myself went to the SummerSlam 2002 at the Nassau Colliseum. I’d say it was the year that I also got really into live pay per views because to me there was nothing like a live pay per view. It was just such a great atmosphere. Thus, when I turned 16 that October I was pleasantly surprised when my parents got me two tickets to the 2002 Survivor Series! This would be my first pay per view ever to come live from Madison Square Garden and to say I was excited was the ultimate understatement. The only question left was who I would take with me to the show. I was heavily involved in my own basement wrestling federation (sad I know) at the time and I already had a blast at SummerSlam with my buddy jimmy but I was suddenly now torn over a few buddies who wanted to come with. After much deliberation, I asked my father to come with me. My father’s interest in wrestling had started to wane but he had taken me to my very first wrestling show at Madison Square Garden so I thought he’d be the perfect person to attend my first pay per view at the garden with.

What was also cool about that birthday was that I had also got an autograph ticket from my family to meet Shawn Michaels in Howard Beach at Video Game Central the night before the Survivor Series. This time my mom was coming with as Shawn was always her favorite wrestler. This was Shawn’s first title match since his return to the WWE at Summerslam of that year and, to me anyway, he was the focal point of that event. It was crazy to have Shawn at this autograph signing only 30 minutes from my house and one of the truly starstruck moments of my life. I remember it was pouring rain and blistering cold out in the November New York weather. Despite this and despite my mother just getting out of surgery, my mother stayed on that line with me and my buddy for three hours to meet Shawn.  Ever the professional, I distinctly remember Shawn telling me after I wished him luck, “Thanks bud, many think I’m nuts to compete in such a big match and honestly I don’t know how many more of these I have in me.”  He went on to wrestle for another 7+ years.

As for the event itself, I remember that this was the first show I had attended at the Garden since 9/11 the year before and the security was insane.  I had to remove my hat, people were being asked randomly to remove their shoes and my dad was asked to remove his cell phone and flip it open (remember flip phones?) for some reason.  It took forever to file into the Garden that night, but once we finally did get in, it was sure worth it. The guys at Busted Open Radio (which airs 2-4pm Monday, Wednesday and Friday on Sirius/XM 92) actually did a live tweeting of this show last year and it reminded me of what a great show this was, despite the fact that there weren’t any traditional survivor series matches on the show.

From the beginning, the crowd was in an absolute frenzy as Jeff Hardy did one of his famous swanton bombs off the rafters through a table and then later in the same match the Dudleys reunited to great fanfare.

One of the other big things about this show was the debut of Big Poppa Pump Scott Steiner who debuted for the company that night following the expiring of his contract from WCW (18 months after WCW closed it’s doors I might add).  I know that Scott’s WWE career at Big Poppa Pump didn’t really go anywhere but go back and watch this debut, he was over huge.  Surrounding that debut was also a lot of fun I remember going nuts because I was a huge Matt Hardy fan (always one of my favorites to this day) and I also loved the RNN News skits which featured Randy Orton promoting his return, he was so good even at 22 years old.

From here ya can’t talk about this show without talking about the Smackdown Six.  This was the peak of the smackdown six,to me, which featured Kurt Angle, Rey Mysterio, Edge, Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero and Chavo Guerrero.  This, in my opinion was the peak of the WWE midcard in any era and it breaks my heart to think two of the six have tragically passed and 5 of the 6 have mostly retired at this point.

If there was one man in WWE in 2002 that defined the year, it’d perhaps be the same man who’s synonymous with WWE in 2014…Brock Lesnar.  I remember the Garden crowd being so into Brock and at the time he was the WWE champion and still undefeated.  This obviously was the night in which he lost due to Paul Heyman turning on Brock.  That turn stunned the crowd and I remember after Brock hit the F5 people started celebrating thinking it was over only to have Paul yank the referee. To this day, it still amazes me whenever Brock lifts the Big Show with such ease and I can tell you I’m looking forward to their match tonight.

In the end, I remember being really excited for the Elimination Chamber as it was the first Chamber match in history on this show and look at the six men in the match.  A who’s who of hall of fame level talent in Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Chris Jericho, Kane, Booker T and RVD.  This was the match in which RVD landed a five star frog splash and crushed Triple H’s larynx.  I also remember, other than Shawn, Booker T may have been the most over man in the match.  My father and I had a great time doing the “5 Time!” routine in the crowd with our entire section.  In the end, Shawn Michaels (proving to me he was in fact playing me the night before, which I couldn’t be happier about) won what would end up being his final world title reign in WWE.  As the confetti rained down on Shawn it was probably the best live moment for me as a fan until this past year’s WrestleMania.

All in all just a great and enjoyable show from top to bottom that more than holds up today as so much happened on that show it’s unbelievable to even think.  The show for me is memorable as it was the last show I attended live with my dad who’s interest in the product had really fell off then so it was the end of a 16 year era but what a finale we had.  That’s gonna do it for this review but it’s crazy to think we are gearing up for Lesnar and the Big Show some 13 years later on the Network tonight…and it should be great!