The aforementioned main event implications came in Raw's four-on-four Survivors bout, as Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, Maven, and Randy Orton outlasted the contingent of Triple H, Edge, Batista, and my hero Gene Snitsky, which earned the babyface foursome the right to host Raw on concurrent weeks for a month. This led all the way to the Batista babyface turn and, well, the rest is history.
It's hard to see that whole direction just watching this show in a vacuum, but that's fine. Survivor Series 2004 is one of those benign shows that you're by no means annoyed to have watched, but don't exactly recommend with breathless enthusiasm. Except for the Snitsky/Heidenreich backstage segment, because that s**t was gangbusters.
10. Comings And Goings
This little factoid goes beyond the scope of Survivor Series, but demonstrates the crunch that was going on in WWE land. The first-annual Diva Search had come to an end and, along with winner Christy Hemme, a number of losers were hired, including Maria Kanellis, Michelle McCool, and Joy Giovanni, each being given token jobs like they were ringers on Mr. Burns' softball team.
At the same time this was happening, shortly before Survivor Series, 12 performers were released, including four women (Gail Kim, Jazz, Nidia, and Linda Miles). Ex-champions were also part of the cuts, including Chuck Palumbo, Billy Gunn, Test, Albert, and Rico. Rounding out the releases were Rodney Mack, Johnny Stamboli, and Lamont (Ernest Miller's oft-forgotten butler). Mass releases used to be somewhat common, but this was one of the first major bloodlettings, and it came shortly before a Big Four pay-per-view, to boot.
9. Returning Home
The 2004 Survivor Series emanated from The Gund Arena (Quicken Loans Arena today) in Cleveland, OH, a city where the only athletes that have been allowed to provide joy over the last 25 years include LeBron James, Jim Thome, and The Miz. But Cleveland can take pride in the fact that its area was the foundation of an important part of WWE history - Survivor Series history, specifically.
The first two Survivor Series events took place in the Cleveland area, 24 miles south at the Richfield Coliseum. WWE would return to the venue for the 1992 event, making 2004's Survivor Series the first event of its chronology to take place in the Cleveland region since then. Of course, it wasn't the same without the Jumping Bomb Angels dazzling the crowd.
8. Hazy Memories
How well do you remember pay-per-view cards from one year ago? Unless you live and breathe WWE, trying to recall specific PPV cards from top to bottom might pose a challenge. If you're Spike Dudley, the then-reigning Cruiserweight Champion that defended the gold in a Fatal 4-Way against Rey Mysterio, Billy Kidman, and Chavo Guerrero, is it possible that remembering your own *matches* is hard?
In September 2005, Spike, shortly after his WWE release, took part in a shoot interview, where he claimed to have no memory of the aforementioned Survivor Series match (10 months after the fact) and even outright denied that said match happened. It should be noted that Spike had taken a dismissive and somewhat annoyed attitude with the interviewer at different parts, so maybe he was just messing with the guy? Then again, it would be an apt testimonial to my "just a show" assessment of this event.
7. Character Upgrade
In later years, particularly in his TNA run, we came to associate hooded jackets and enchanting Evanescence-esque metal ballads with Christian (Cage), as the attire and atmosphere added an extra dimension to a performer destined for a run at the top. Those elements would be bestowed upon Christian in the final year of his WWE run, beginning at this here Survivor Series.
It was at this show that Christian debuted his new theme song, Just Close Your Eyes by Waterproof Blonde, which was waaaay more main eventer-sounding than his previous generic rock piece (Duhduhduh--da-DUH on loop for eternity). Christian also wore the hooded ring jacket en route to a tremendous Intercontinental title match, in which he was defeated by Shelton Benjamin. Five years later, they were wrestling for the ECW Championship, because wrestling is weird.
6. Apple Jacked
The first survivor match of the night would see established stars Eddie Guerrero, Big Show, Rob Van Dam, and John Cena battle Kurt Angle and three lesser-heralded mercenaries: Luther Reigns, Mark Jindrak, and Carlito, who had just beaten Cena for the US Title the previous month. Cena was out for revenge after Carlito had bodyguard Aaron "Jesus" Aguilera stab Cena in the kidney in a nightclub (off-screen, naturally).
The revenge would be short: Carlito couldn't do much, due to suffering a separated shoulder in a house show match, and took an early countout loss here as he fled from an angry Cena. Cena regained the US title two nights later on SmackDown, defeating Carlito in a very short match, and that was the last Mr. Cool would wrestle until the following spring.
5. Not-So-Disastrous Debut
Man, that run-in that Gene Snitsky had with Heidenreich backstage was something else, wasn't it? The two of them in each other's faces, grunting in a most disturbing fashion while expressing mutual admiration for each other's reprehensible activities. Hopefully, that footage makes it to the video package for the day that Snitsky rightfully enters the WWE Hall of Fame. As for Heidenreich, Survivor Series was a banner night in his career.
Sure, Heidenreich lost to Undertaker in a match that wasn't as bad as you might expect, but it's more notable for the fact that it was, 14 months after his main roster debut, his first pay-per-view match. Heidenreich proved to be a quick miss as a strange babyface with a stranger secret, then after some retooling (including a bypassed idea to bring him back as a Nazi supersoldier), Heidenreich re-emerged as a tormented poet with a predilection for Michael Cole (hopefully that footage makes *his* Hall of Fame montage).
4. It's John O'Clock Somewhere
JBL's WWE Championship reign had zoomed past the four-month mark, and the belt would remain his possession for four-and-a-half months more. At the 2004 Survivor Series, John Layfield would narrowly defeat Booker T in a match that was decent, but more memorable for the champ flattening Josh Mathews with a hellacious clothesline. That was definitely fun.
The match came about eight months after the debut of the JBL character, and yet it was the first time he scored a pinfall win on PPV with it. Previously, JBL had beaten Eddie Guerrero by DQ, then won the belt from him via the four-corner touch in a strap match. Later, JBL beat Undertaker by DQ at SummerSlam, before enclosing him in a hearse at No Mercy. JBL was a pretty giving character, in that despite being 6'6 and 300 pounds, he usually only kept his gold through cowardly means.
3. Make Sports Entertainment, Not War
It was noted in the 2002 set of facts that Triple H, longtime admirer of the classic rasslin' of yore, wanted to institute a WarGames match at that year's Survivor Series, only to see the Elimination Chamber invented as something of a compromise. Two years later, Helmsley got that itch again, only to be rebuffed once more, this time, with no cage match substitute.
According to Figure Four Weekly, Triple H tried for another WarGames match, this time for the 2004 show, only to be placed in an elimination match instead. Shame, because could you imagine if Evolution had stayed together, the sort of bloody battle they could've had with, say, Benoit, Jericho, Shawn Michaels, and a still babyface Edge, or Benjamin, or Mick Foley? Alas.
2. Well, Whose Fault Was It?
Maven seemed like an odd choice for a member of the valiant babyface team in the night's main event. He hadn't been relevant since he earned an ass-whooping for eliminating Undertaker in the 2002 Royal Rumble, but yet there he was, duking it out with the top villains in a match with so much at stake.
Maven's exit from the match was facilitated by an absolutely-deadly chair to the skull from Snitsky, who was noticeably bleeding at the time. That's because Maven had accidentally broken Snitsky's orbital bone with a too-snug punch, having potato'ed our unquestioned deity a bit too hard during his gallant attempt at a comeback. Was Snitsky crowning Maven with God-like fury with the chair a receipt for the super-hard strike? Either way, it damn sure wasn't his fault.
1. A Hefty Drop
It's little wonder that the show wasn't all that memorable - it seemed to not attract a sizable audience. Survivor Series had become the weakest link of the Big Four long ago, and the metrics would back up that perception as time went on. Some Survivor Series events were more hyped than others, while many were, say it with me, "just a show".
This "just a show" drew 325,000 buys, making it not only the least bought Survivor Series since 1997, but also the least bought *Big Four* event in that same stretch. Things would rebound nicely in 2005, as each of the Big Four events were up from their 2004 numbers, including a respectable jump for the November classic. But we'll cross that bridge when we get there.