Were you looking forward to the 5-on-5 traditional Survivor Series elimination tag match involving WWE Champion CM Punk and Ryback? Tough noogies. Apparently not enough people were, and the participants of said match have been changed significantly.
It started with the Miz telling Paul Heyman, who assembled the team, that he didn't want to be part of it anymore after Punk left them for dead at the end of last week's Raw. That actually made sense, although I wonder what there leaves the Miz.
Heyman recruited Wade Barrett instead. While the Englishman initially refused -- noting he did the same when Heyman asked him last week -- he changed his mind on the condition that Heyman "owed him one," and he wanted it in writing. Interesting. I'm not sure WWE knows when or what Barrett's favor will be, but it's a plot point that becomes incredibly interesting if Heyman ever gets in an authority role.
Then, Vince McMahon blew up the Punk/Heyman team entirely, when he questioned Vickie Guerrero why she was allowing Punk to not defend the title and hide behind four other men in the Survivor Series tag match. Vince essentially coerced Guerrero into changing the main event into a Triple Threat for the WWE Championship with Punk defending against Ryback and John Cena.
Later, Guerrero announced that Dolph Ziggler was taking over Punk's team as the captain.
I won't lie, I think the Cena-Ryback-Punk match will draw a bit better than the 5-on-5 featuring Punk and Ryback, even if a Cena vs. Ziggler one-on-one match had been added to the card as expected.
But it certainly makes last week's Raw irrelevant. The whole show was building to the announcement of Team Punk vs. Team Foley. One has to think if Foley was in the 5-on-5 match instead of say, Kofi Kingston, the idea of seeing him in action again would drive the PPV buyrate. Alas, as Foley told Chair Shots last month, he doesn't have one more match left in him.
I also liked the idea of building Ryback through the 5-on-5 match and setting him up for a rematch with Punk. Not that he didn't deserve one because of the controversial ending at Hell in a Cell, but it certainly feels like McMahon just handed title opportunities to Ryback and Cena.
Cena, meanwhile, seems to be in the midst of three feuds -- the budding program with Ziggler and Vickie related to AJ's firing, trying to reclaim the WWE title from CM Punk and a potential battle with Ryback, teased in the final moments of last night's show after Cena and the Sin City Cyborg defeated Ziggler and Punk in a tag team main event.
Personally, I was looking forward to a one-on-one match between Cena and Ziggler. We still may get that -- possibly on WWE Main Event? -- put I think it would've meant more on PPV.
Finally, there is still a void to fill on Team Foley, er, Ryback, er, Orton? The Viper was in the "lead" spot on the graphic, and he's now the biggest name on the team. The announcers kept calling it "Team Foley," so I guess Mick will still be there in the team's corner? Who knows. I could very easily see WWE pretend all that never happened and book this as the PPV's opening match featuring a bunch of upper mid-carders.
As for who might fill the fifth and final spot on that team, the most logical choice would actually be Cena, considering his feud with Ziggler. But he would have to, for the second PPV in less than a month, give up a title shot. That seems unlikely. And I wouldn't be surprised if he's back in the title picture because WWE is upset with the preliminary buyrates for Hell in a Cell, where Cena wasn't involved at all outside the YouTube preshow.
With the Miz quitting the team and not having an obvious feud, we could see him join the babyface squad. That would certainly make for some intrigue.
But as is almost always the case with mystery teammates at Survivor Series, the choice will probably be an incredibly underwhelming one. My money is on the Great Khali, unless Christian is ready to return to action.
As for the rest of Raw, it seemed like a lot of filler. Brad Maddox addressed his decision to screw Ryback, citing that he finally had a chance to name for himself after years of trying to break into the WWE as a wrestler. It set up a match with Ryback on Raw next week where, should Maddox win, he would earn a $1 million contract, per Vince McMahon. So, Ryback squashes him and the angle is over, and Maddox isn't heard from again, right? Probably.
Sheamus and Miz probably had the best match of the night, with Big Show providing entertaining commentary. I like Show as World Champion. I'm a bigger Sheamus fan than most, but I hope they don't put the title back on him right away. I think a dominant run by Big Show would provide some entertaining television.
I wanted to like the Kofi Kingston vs. Alberto Del Rio match, but Del Rio just bores me to tears. The Orton distraction and RKO after the match was fairly predictable.
Did they just blow-off the AJ scandal? AJ wouldn't address Vickie's accusations, saying if she was in the same ring with Vickie, she'd fight her and get fired. Then it basically turned to Cena-Ziggler. It really wasn't talked about again, despite being a main focal point of the show the last few weeks. Weird.
Lots of tag team matches that I mainly fast forwarded through. I have to expect most of the third-hour ratings are going to be bad again, considering it was dominated by Team CoBro vs. Primo and Epico, a Divas tag match, and 3MB's Heath Slater vs. an Uso. Really?
Wade Barrett got a strong response from the England crowd and apparently played a babyface in the post-taping shenanigins, which is cool. He beat Brodus Clay in a decent match that was really more of a squash than you would've expected for the Funkasaurus a few months back. They built him up enough that if he had longer matches with upper mid-card to main event talent, it would've been believable and actually would've come across as a more impressive victory for the heels beating him. Just saying.
Super Smackdown will air "live"-ish on SyFy tonight. Orton vs. Del Rio in a Falls Count Anywhere match is the announced main event.