10 Things We Learned From WWE Survivor Series 2013

The one where Cena and Orton posed as Dolphins1925 ran wild...

What the hell happened? For the first time since the Royal Rumble, No Way Out, and WrestleMania X-Seven in 2001, WWE managed to deliver three undeniably kick-ass pay-per-views in a row. Although Payback, Money in the Bank, and SummerSlam 2013 may be a few degrees off the collective greatness of the former trio, this group packed a mighty wallop and seemed to herald a great autumn to come. Then it went Night of Champions (meh), Battleground (historically bad), Hell in a Cell (meh again), and then this Survivor Series (tone-deaf misfire).

When Daniel Bryan was shuffled out of the main event scene in favour of a YES-taunt co-opting Big Show, the resistance was palpable. It wasn't booing the whole damn Royal Rumble out of Pittsburgh-palpable, but the annoyance was strong regardless. Coupled with trying to cast The Total Divas cast as the indisputable heroines of their match, putting Show on last as the "underdog" stand-in felt just so clueless. Or perhaps "willfully" clueless.

Survivor Series 2013 often gets lumped in there with the worst events bearing its name, and it's not hard to see why. Ironically, the best part of the entire show came when a certain Big Dog looked more than strong. That aside, it was slim pickings.

10. Dude, Spoilers


Great pay-per-views speak for themselves, and historically-awful pay-per-views can be fun in a Mystery Science Theater "riff it into oblivion" way. Worse than bad pay-per-views can be the paint-by-numbers, anodyne events that feel like filler at three hours length. Oftentimes, "predictable" is bad, and the booking can make the forthcoming results predictable. But so too can leakers.

It was around this point in time that a rogue Redditor named Dolphins1925 had made his presence known, apparently existing within WWE's inner circle to some degree. Long before the show started, Dolphins1925 told everybody what each match result would be (sans the impromptu Mark Henry-Ryback bout, since it was a throw-in), and suddenly, the betting odds began to increase, with John Cena suddenly a 325-to-1 favourite to slaughter Alberto Del Rio. Sure enough, the cloaked oracle nailed every pick.

9. Unexpected Ingredient


Just two months after this show, the greatest and most influential high-flyer that you or I have ever seen would be booed out of the 2014 Royal Rumble, simply because he wasn't Daniel Bryan. At this point, Rey Mysterio was coming off of an eight-month injury layoff in 2013 (just another in a long line of them, unfortunately), and was slotted onto the babyface team in the men's elimination match.

Mysterio's return from injury was apparently far earlier than anticipated, as he still clearly hobbled when he returned to action about a week before Survivor Series. It would be Mysterio's last Survivor Series prior to this year's event, as the masked marvel vanished once more from WWE programming after WrestleMania XXX, before parting ways with the company the following year.

8. Looks Strong Enough


The men's elimination bout would end up being a showcase for young Roman Reigns, the Shield's clean-up hitter. When Shield-mate Dean Ambrose was eliminated criminally early, and Jack Swagger and Cesaro followed, Reigns had to battle back alongside Seth Rollins to whittle down the opposition. That's when The Big Dog began throwing a Spear party, cutting down anything that moved.

On the way to becoming the match's sole survivor, Reigns scored four pinfall eliminations, the most by any single wrestler in one Survivor Series elimination match. More than a dozen wrestlers over the decades have notched three eliminations exactly, but it took until the event's 26th incarnation for one man (or woman, for that matter) to rack up four. Next up for Roman: the Royal Rumble eliminations record.

7. Don't Call It A Comeback


Another interesting stat regarding the men's eliminator is the way the match was structured. Instead of setting it up so that a babyface could overcome the odds by battling back against a small army, it was the heels that had to dispense of a valiant squad, consisting of Mysterio, The Usos, and The Rhodes Brothers. Of course, Reigns was being positioned to be valiant himself later on.

The match marks the first and only heel time that a heel Survivor Series team came back from a three-wrestler deficit in order to win. Sgt. Slaughter almost pulled it off in 1990 when he came close to cleaning out The Alliance (not the *WCW* Alliance - this one was booked less stupidly). Given the criticism that Reigns was pushed too hard, it may be a long time before we see this kind of booking again.

6. Thinning Of The Herd


While women's action today in WWE has never been better from an overall quality standpoint, most fans can recall a time when that wasn't the case. The 14-woman Survivor match pitting the Total Divas cast against the reputedly-bitter non-reality stars was a fine example of how much less-auspicious women's wrestling could be under the WWE header. While some women in the match are undeniably talented, it was a bit of a rough watch.

To give you an idea of how extreme the roster turnover has been, only four of the 14 women in the match are full-time wrestlers with WWE today: Natalya, Naomi, Alicia Fox, and Tamina Snuka. The turnover rate for the women has been quite extreme, with the Bellas, AJ Lee, and others scurrying away to different endeavours.

5. Gotta Have Hart


The survivors of the women's match were Total Divas cast members Niki Bella and Natalya, with Nattie polishing off Tamina and AJ in succession to close out the match. Natalya is just one of many second and third generation wrestlers whose parent had taken part in a previous Survivor match, and while Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart never survived such a match, Nattie's not the first Hart relative to make it through one.

In fact, Nattie is actually the *sixth* Hart family member to survive at the event. Preceding her were uncles Bret, Bruce, and Keith (all in 1993), fellow uncle Davey Boy Smith (1995 and 1997), and husband Tyson Kidd (2012). To date, Kidd and Nattie are the only married couple to each survived one of these trademark elimination matches.

4. End Of The World


When John Cena polished off Alberto Del Rio in a fine, workmanlike match to retain the World Heavyweight title, the belt was well into its death throes. Three weeks later, Randy Orton would be unifying it with his WWE Championship at the TLC pay-per-view, and until the Universal title's creation, we only had one World Champion in the entire company.

Even *with* the advent of said Universal title, the 2013 Survivor Series is the last of the event's chronology to see two different World titles get defended. Since 2016, the respective World champs of each brand have either been in an elimination match, or faced each other in a non-title battle of brand superiority. In this era, the WWE and World Heavyweight belts would both be on the line at the 2007-13 Survivor Series, and in 2002, but from 2003-06, only one would be at stake for each.

3. Earlier Plans


In the semi-main, CM Punk would team with fellow former bingo hall barnstormer Daniel Bryan, taking on Wyatt Family members Luke Harper and Erick Rowan. The match was a pretty good piece of old school formula tag wrestling, with the heroes going over, in what would be Punk's third-to-last PPV match before his sudden exit from the business.

Originally, the men involved in this match were to have been included in an elimination match, as well as Bray Wyatt himself. The three Wyatts would have had a pair of partners for a battle against Punk, Bryan, and three other babyfaces (Mysterio and The Usos?), before it was decided to centre an elimination match around Roman Reigns' explosive fury. Certainly, the Reigns run of dominance would have been more memorable.

2. Show Pre-Empted


So that main event pitting WWE Champion Randy Orton against Big Show (Show's fourth World title match at Survivor Series in five years, by the way) was a bit of a forgettable mess. While Show did get a great reaction for coldcocking Triple H in the run-up to the event, his using the YES! taunt as his own gesture didn't endear him with fans, and the Boston crowd turned on this match.

Originally, the match was supposed to set up Show vs. Triple H at the TLC pay-per-view three weeks later, which would make sense, given the direction they were going. That match was scrapped for unclear reasons, and Show ended up being slotted in a throwaway Tag Team title four-way, where he and Rey Mysterio were the last team eliminated.

1. But Who's Buying?


All of that momentum from a mostly-fun 2013 had dissipated throughout the fall, fan interest waning not only with the annual arrival of football season (an expectation), but from seeing Bryan get slid out of the main event tier, his push apparently laid to rest. The numbers for Survivor Series reflected a bit of the apathetic backlash for this change in direction.

For one thing, it did the lowest Survivor Series buyrate since 1995, pulling in a measly 179,000 buys. To make matters even worse, it was WWE's third least-bought pay-per-view of 2013, ahead of only Night of Champions (175,000) and the historically-awful Battleground (a wretched 114,000). SummerSlam had done 298,000 buys for third highest of the year, owed to both SummerSlam being a Big Four component that's been generally treated better, and a main event that the fans were itching to see.

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Justin Henry

Written by Justin Henry

In addition to writing lists and commentaries for Cultaholic, Justin is also a features writer and interviewer for Fighting Spirit Magazine, and is co-author of the WWE-related book Titan Screwed: Lost Smiles, Stunners, and Screwjobs.