Finally, The Rock's...back.
Survivor Series is WWE's regular November pay-per-view; it's been a yearly tradition since 1987, shortly after the massive success of Wrestlemania III. As one of the "Big Five" PPVs (the others being Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania, Summerslam and King of the Ring), this annual event has enjoyed a great amount of success over the years. Though various championships are often on the line and featured as the main events, Survivor Series is traditionally known for several elimination matches of the same name that take place during the event. These matches are generally between two teams of four or five participants each; individuals on each side are eliminated via pinfall and/or submission, giving a more weighted advantage to the team with more participants left. Of course, we're often teased with valiant one-man comebacks and fierce battles for survival, and that's part of the charm: Survivor Series is based on a simple gimmick that works, even though its format has gradually softened over the years.
As such, Survivor Series 2011 features just one match of the same name...and to make matters worse, it's buried in the middle of the card. This gives the overall event less of a special feeling, even taking The Rock's in-ring return into account. Even so, there's some decent mid-card action on display here, including a solid opener with Dolph Ziggler & John Morrison...and even a decent Divas match, believe it or not. Of course, the Survivor Series match itself is satisfying despite a few hiccups, but the show-stealer this time around is CM Punk and Alberto Del Rio's excellent WWE Championship bout. The only two disappointments are The Big Show & Mark Henry's brawl (surprise) and the final tag match with The Rock & Cena vs. "The Awesome Truth". It's not bad...but it's just not at the level of a curtain closer, even though The Rock doesn't seem to have lost much in-ring ability during his seven-year absence.
Survivor Series 2011 is a flawed but watchable event, whether you're a seasoned wrestling expert or new to the sport. WWE's DVD release presents the three-hour show on one disc; it looks and sounds fine, and the $20 price tag is appreciated. The event was held at New York's historic Madison Square Garden on November 20th and includes the following six matches. Let's take a closer look, shall we?
One minute earlier: Alberto Del Rio admits his preference for Coke.
1. Dolph Ziggler vs. John Morrison [U.S. Championship Match]
- A solid opener with great back-and-forth action, but it should've been a few minutes longer.
2. Eve Torres vs. Beth Phoenix [Divas Championship Match]
- An above-average Divas match, especially during the final moments.
3. Randy Orton, Sheamus, Mason Ryan, Kofi Kingston & Sin Cara vs. Wade Barrett,
Cody Rhodes, Jack Swagger, Hunico & Dolph Ziggler [Traditional Survivor Series Match]
- Pretty good action all around, even with a serious botch/injury for Sin Cara early on.
Excellent trade-off eliminations with a sudden but appropriate ending.
4. Mark Henry vs. The Big Show [World Heavyweight Championship Match]
- Nothing special, mostly due to the non-ending. These have no place in pay-per-views.
5. CM Punk vs. Alberto Del Rio [WWE Championship Match]
- The best match of the night. Solid workrate by both wrestlers and fantastic exchanges.
6. The Rock & John Cena vs. The Miz & R-Truth
- Great to see The Rock back in action, but it should've happened under different circumstances.
Odd booking and no real "stakes" lowered the match's impact considerably.
Quality Control Department
Video & Audio Quality
Presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio and enhanced for 16x9 displays, Survivor Series 2011 looks about as good as other recent WWE DVDs. Colors are bold and bright, onscreen graphics are razor-sharp and black levels are typically good. With that said, there's a notable and expected amount of compression artifacts and digital combing on display here, most likely due to the fast action, long crowd shots and smoky pyrotechnic displays. A decent presentation of tricky material; nothing more, nothing less.
The audio is presented in 5.1 Dolby Surround; likewise, it's similar in quality to recent WWE releases. Crowd reactions and play-by-play commentary come through loud and clear, creating a rich and satisfying experience overall. As expected, a Spanish play-by-play track is included during the show.
Menu Design, Presentation & Packaging
Seen above, the menu designs are basic and easy to navigate. This three-hour show is divided into just under 12 chapters, one per match or significant filler event. No obvious layer change was detected during playback. This one-disc release is housed in a standard keepcase and includes a promotional insert.
Only one extra here, and it's a very minor one: we get a quick Bonus Interview
with CM Punk, which was presumably recorded after his match with Alberto Del Rio. Unfortunately, the dark match between Santino Marella and Jinder Mahal has not been included. Why does WWE continue to overlook these?
Survivor Series 2011 isn't among the year's best, but it's not the worst either. More than half of the six included matches met or exceeded expectations, though the lack of more "traditional" Survivor Series matches and an oddly-booked tag team main event keep this one from scoring higher. WWE's DVD presentation is fairly typical, pairing a decent technical presentation with only one minor extra. No Blu-Ray option is available, but it's still tough to recommended Survivor Series 2011 as a worthwhile part of your wrestling collection. Rent It, especially if you already shelled out big bucks for the pay-per-view.
"I can't believe I'm still stuck with Vickie Guerrero."
Randy Miller III is an affable office monkey based in Harrisburg, PA. He also does freelance graphic design projects, teaches art classes at a local gallery and runs a website or two. He also enjoys slacking off, juggling HD DVDs and writing stuff in third person.