Survivor Series 2014 may as well be termed "reverse Backlash", as though it is a "one-match show", the greatness is saved for the end of the night. Sure, there were some decent-enough matches earlier on (particularly the four-way Tag Team title bout), but prior to the main event, it hardly felt like a Big Four card (not that Survivor Series was being held to that high standard in later years, anyway).
Then it happened: a dramatic and exciting main event match with genuinely-engrossing twists and turns, a hard-fought comeback, chicanery throughout, and a major debut at the very end. In the pantheon of greatest Survivor Series matches of all time, you'll find the one where Sting emerged from the shadows to play hero once more. "One-match show"? Yeah, but what a match it was.
10. Cheap As Free
We can complain about the WWE product on a daily basis until the cows come home, but you'll never see me take any swipes at WWE Network. It is unquestionably the greatest wrestling product ever released, and upon its 2014 launch, it continually affirms its status as wrestling heaven. The fact that live pay-per-views were factored into the monthly $9.99 fee was astonishing, as was the promotional gimmick involving Survivor Series.
In an effort to reach the company goal of one million Network subs by year's end, WWE made November 2014 the first ever "free month" in order to entice potential customers. This made the 2014 Survivor Series the first pay-per-view in company history to be offered for free to the general audience. Us loyal day-one customers were no doubt happy for our frugal peers...
9. Fine Quality Control
You'll go nuts if you try to make sense of WWE storylines over the long term, given how often continuity is thrown to the wind, due to changing whims or just general forgetfulness. The 2014 Survivor Series would offer one such contradiction, visible on the Kickoff Show for all the world to see.
Jack Swagger was originally supposed to be on John Cena's team in the main event, only to be taken out by Seth Rollins some time before the PPV, and replaced by Ryback, who turned face to do so. On the night of Survivor Series, Swagger wrestled Cesaro on the pre-show Kickoff, after being "too hurt" to wrestle on Cena's team as a result of the attack. I know we joke that people in WWE don't remember what happened three weeks ago, but geez.
8. The Champ Isn't Here!
Brock Lesnar was presumably too busy hunting his Thanksgiving dinner (killing a brown bear using nothing but a set of brass knuckles) to make an appearance at Survivor Series. The reigning WWE Champion did not appear at any of the last three PPVs of 2014, Survivor Series being one of them. He would not wrestle again until the 2015 Royal Rumble.
This would mark the only Survivor Series in which no form of reigning WWE Champion appeared. Even if the belt wasn't defended, each other Survivor Series would see the reigning titleholder appear. And in the two years where the belt was vacant (1998 and 2015), there would be a new champion at the night's end. Brock, of course, remains an exception, to the chagrin of many.
7. Stunted Growth
One of the great revelations of WWE programming in late-2014 was Damien Sandow hitting the role of a lifetime. After casting away his intellectual snob gimmick (and the endless random costume run he'd had), Sandow became the stunt double (more accurately, the muted understudy) of his Hollywood idol, The Miz. The comedic duo would come away as WWE Tag Team champions after winning a four-way match at Survivor Series.
Although Sandow maintained a consistent presence on WWE programming for four solid years between 2012 and 2016, this would be the only championship that Sandow would win in the company. He'd previously toted around a Money in the Bank briefcase, but the Tag Title run was where the buck stopped as far as being a champion went. Meanwhile, in TNA, he would win the company's Grand Championship two months following his arrival.
6. Battle Tested
While it was possibly better than the previous year's women's survivor match, the 2014 four-on-four clash was fairly heatless and sluggish, and dragged on for far longer than perhaps it should have. The fact that there were no rapid-fire eliminations, nor much in the way of story interest, only made for a boring affair, especially as one side dominated the other.
About the only interesting fact about the match is the fact that Natalya, one of the four survivors, became the first woman in Survivor Series history (and so far, the only one) to survive more than one elimination match. We mentioned in the last list that she and five other Hart family relatives have each survived at least once at the event. Only she and Davey Boy Smith have done it more than once.
5. A Grand Finale
Given the stakes of the five-on-five men's elimination match, nothing else could have possibly gone on last. People's jobs were on the line, depending on the outcome, and given who would be debuting at the very end, it had to finish. It was the most high-stakes Survivor Series match since Steve Austin's job hung in the balance 11 years earlier.
It marked the first time that a traditional elimination match closed out the show since 2005, a nine-year run that saw World title matches and comeback matches for People's Champions take priority over the event's heritage. But given how much many Survivor Series events in the post-Thanksgiving eve/night era have been "just a show", this isn't exactly surprising to see.
4. Demon Turkey
Kane wrestled in the main event match as part of Team Authority, looking like the scariest man in business slacks and no shirt that could possibly roam the earth (never mind the time Haku worked in sales for Dunder Mifflin). He would make it to the latter stages of the match before being dispatched by Dolph Ziggler and the Zig Zag.
The match would mark Kane's ninth Survivor Series elimination match appearance (counting appearances as Isaac Yankem and Faux Diesel in the mid-nineties), and incredibly, he's never survived a single time. Under the Kane name, he's failed to make it through matches in 2001, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2012, and finally 2014. Maybe his mayoral opponent should have challenged him to pick four partners for an elimination match?
3. Lurking In The Shadows
The crowd response to Sting's WWE debut was something special. After years of rejecting WWE's overtures and offers, the stoic conscience of WCW finally showed his painted face on a Vince McMahon broadcast. Rumours had swirled that Sting may possibly show up at Survivor Series, but it seemed to be simply speculation. Sting, for his part, kept his impending debut a secret, never showing his hand.
In speaking with him for a Fighting Spirit Magazine interview in 2015 (yeah, not-so-humble brag), Sting told me that he was kept in this 'motor home' in the Scottrade Center's parking lot, only emerging when it was time for his dramatic entrance. Only then did the boys and girls backstage see him for the first time that night, as he passed through. Nobody could've leaked the news, because nobody saw him until then.
2. Showing Off Stamina
Let's just ignore the fact that Dolph Ziggler and Seth Rollins played dead for what seemed like three hours at the end of that match (maybe they just swooned at the sight of their childhood hero Sting - hey, I was a little Stinger too, once). Ziggler may have been limper than linguine at the end, but he scored the winning pinfall to save the day for the good guys.
Ziggler became the fourth person in Survivor Series history to come back from at least three men down in order to be the sole survivor. Others included Razor Ramon (five on one in 1994), Big Show (four on one in 1999) and Ric Flair (three on one in 2006). Coincidentally, Ziggler was one of those who opposed Flair in that 2006 battle (Nicky!).
1. Money Maker
You know the old gag about how we buy bottled water when it flows freely from our faucets, or that we buy flowers for our significant others when we could just pick them out of the ground ourselves. Something is technically free, and yet we open our wallets anyway. Survivor Series 2014 falls into that category too, it turns out.
Survivor Series 2014 managed to do 103,000 buys, not too bad for the Network era. About 70,000 buys came internationally, and many were believed to have come from the United Kingdom, where the Network was not yet available (not until early 2015, anyway). The other 33,000 were from the US, where the event was offered up for free to new Network subscribers. Perhaps they didn't get the memo.