Rock was (and is) undeniably a bigger star than anyone else with contractual WWE ties, but boy did the company show their desperation throughout the year with genuflection toward a part-timer (Rock's birthday special, Raw Gets Rocked, etc), even if he is one the biggest stars walking the planet. WWE was setting Rock up for a few comeback matches, one of which would take place at this here event.
Survivor Series 2011 took place inside Madison Square Garden, and would commemorate The Rock's 15-year anniversary of his televised WWE in-ring debut inside that same building. He would team with John Cena, with whom he'd been engaging in fisticuffs and the occasional traded blow since the winter months. Their opponents were so inconsequential (and were treated as such while cloaked and Rock and Cena's shadows) that they barely warrant mention here.
10. Gone From The Garden
As noted, Survivor Series 2011 emanated from the hallowed halls of Madison Square Garden, a building where so much rich and important WWE history would transpire through the decades. For a time in the nineties and aughts, there would be a Big Four pay-per-view virtually every even-numbered year, with Survivor Series taking place there in 1996 and 2002.
Survivor Series 2011 (yes, it's an odd-numbered year, I know) would mark the most recent instance of WWE holding a PPV inside the Garden. In the seven years since, WWE has largely eschewed MSG (sans house shows) in favour of Brooklyn's Barclays Center, which has played host to TLC in 2012, and four SummerSlams from 2015-18. The rent and filming costs for holding shows inside the Garden are reportedly excessively high, hence WWE using Barclays instead.
9. This Is The End
The 2011 Survivor Series began with a pretty good opener between two of the more reliable performers in the company, as Dolph Ziggler retained the US Championship against John Morrison. Ziggler was on his way up the card at the time, while Morrison's time with WWE was coming to an end - by his own choice.
This would be Morrison's last WWE PPV appearance. Eight days after the pay-per-view, Morrison was written out of the company, concluding his nine years with WWE after being beaten down by The Miz. Morrison had decided long before Survivor Series that he would be leaving at the end of November, citing lingering neck issues and the heavy work schedule as reasons for his exit. In the seven years since, Morrison has branched out into acting roles and reality TV, as well as notable stints with both Lucha Underground and Impact Wrestling.
8. Double Dolph
Ziggler would end up pulling double-duty at the 2011 Survivor Series, also wrestling in the night's lone elimination match. That's not to say that Ziggler lasted a particularly long time in the match, succumbing in 90 seconds to an RKO from Randy Orton. The extra work put over Ziggler further as a braggadocios workhorse, but originally, he wasn't intended to be in the match at all.
The fifth man on the heel side was supposed to be Christian, who would have matched up across from then rival Sheamus on the babyface quintet. Christian was sidelined after badly spraining his ankle about a week and a half earlier in a match against Sheamus in Belgium, rendering him unable to take part in Survivor Series. The opening allowed for Ziggler to be slotted in, giving him a little more positive shine.
7. Double Dolph Again
By taking part in the Survivor bout less than 15 minutes after polishing off Morrison, Ziggler became one of the few people to wrestle twice at a Survivor Series. In doing so, he actually became the second wrestler to take part in both an elimination match *and* a championship match in the same Survivor Series, and the first to do so in 12 years.
The first man to do so was Big Show, who destroyed Big Boss Man's team all by himself in an elimination bout, before later taking Steve Austin's spot in the WWE Championship triple threat, winning the belt from Triple H. That two-for-one has happened one other time - in 2015, Sheamus went down in an elimination bout, before coming back to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase on new WWE Champion Roman Reigns at night's end.
6. Long-Running Show
Speaking of Big Show, he competed in the World Heavyweight title match with Mark Henry at the 2011 Survivor Series, winning the match via disqualification. The battle wasn't quite as memorable as their ring-breaking brawl at Vengeance the previous match, but its mere existence allows for veteran Paul Wight to claim an obscure distinction.
Big Show is currently the only person in WWE history to wrestle in a World title match at Survivor Series in three different decades. Show snuck in his claim to the nineties with the aforementioned triple threat at the 1999 show, while also competing in title bouts at the 2002 and 2009 events. His match with Henry clinched the tens for him, and he'd even wrestle in World title matches at the 2012 and 2013 shows as well. Show is tied with Shawn Michaels for most Survivor Series world title matches with six.
5. Straight Edge Garden Party
Punk showed a real flair for the moment, enlisting Howard Finkel (the undisputed greatest ring announcer of all time) to personally introduce him before his WWE Championship match against titleholder Alberto Del Rio. Hearing Finkel rasp, "Annnnnd NEEEEEEEW" after the match was a moment befitting of the venue, as winning wrestling's richest prize in the greatest of all venues deserves the best possible voice.
I noted earlier that Survivor Series 2011 was the last WWE pay-per-view to emanate from the Garden, and coincidentally, Punk's victory was the last WWE World Championship inside the building as well. After changing hands inside the building with great frequency in the sixties, seventies, and early eighties, the nationalization and globalization of WWE led to less changes inside MSG. Punk's WWE title win was the first since Big Show defeated Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series 2002 to take place inside the Garden.
4. A Different Ending
Survivor Series 2011 was virtually a moot show before the main event. Everything centered around The Rock's comeback match, his first since competing at WrestleMania XX more than seven-and-a-half years earlier (coincidentally, also inside MSG). Rock and Cena were teaming up to face two crash dummies that were painted to look like R-Truth and The Miz, and the ending was never in doubt.
Somewhat interestingly, this was the first time that a Survivor Series ended with a standard tag team match. In the previous 24 Survivor Series, nine ended with elimination matches, 12 in a singles match, two in triple threats, and one in a six-man Chamber match. Doing a normal one-fall tag team match was new ground for Survivor Series, exciting only for Rock's mere presence.
3. Rock Knows It
What separates Rock from so many of his contemporaries is his absolute willingness to put new stars over because he knows that he himself is virtually bulletproof. In 1999, Rock lost to the likes of Hardcore Holly and Al Snow, and it didn't damage him. In 2002, he submitted to Chris Benoit's Crossface. A year later, he allowed The Hurricane to verbally dunk on him several times.
Rock's always of the mind that giving away some rub is the best thing to do. That's why, when Rock addressed the fans after the PPV, he heard them chanting loudly for cult favourite Zack Ryder, he went out of his way to put the kid over. Sadly, Rock's endorsement didn't last long, as Ryder's brief push was over before the 2012 Royal Rumble. Eh, Rock tried.
2. Unfortunate Truth
The Miz and R-Truth, despite showing tons of potential as something of a villainous super team known as The Awesome Truth. Miz and Truth both demonstrated the ability to cut caustic promos, and looked good doing their violent run-in at the end of the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view. The Awesome Truth appeared to have legs, even if they were just patsies for Rock and Cena to bat around on that one night.
But the team wasn't to last. Following the fallout episode of Raw, R-Truth was suspended for 30 days for violation of the company's Wellness Policy. Truth reportedly tested positive for a synthetic form of marijuana. There was some controversy in regards to the timing of Truth's suspension, as Evan Bourne (who reportedly tested positive for the same reason, and allegedly around the same time Truth tested positive) was suspended in early November, while Truth's suspension didn't come until after Survivor Series, three weeks later.
1. A Slight Nudge
You figured that with Rock actually wrestling on the card, that this Survivor Series would do nowhere near the worst buyrate in event history. The dismal performance of the 2009 show almost got Survivor Series as a whole scrapped from the calendar, and WWE probably figured Rock's first match in almost eight years would give the event a big boost.
And it did - sort of. The 2011 Survivor Series pulled in 281,000 buys, up 25 per cent from the 225,000 buys in 2009, and 15 per cent from the 244,000 from 2010. It still fell short of events like 2008 (319,000), and did the ninth worst buy rate in Survivor Series history at the time (out of 25 shows). Of course, not even the power of The Rock can get the illegal streamers to actually buy the show, now can it?