Survivor Series (2015) was a professional wrestling pay-per-view (PPV) event produced by WWE. It took place on November 22, 2015 at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia, the first time the state has hosted the event. The 29th event under the Survivor Series chronology, it celebrated The Undertaker’s 25th anniversary in WWE, his debut occurring on the 1990’s Survivor Series.
Nine matches were contested at the event, including one match on the pre-show. In the main event, Roman Reigns defeated Dean Ambrose to win the vacant WWE World Heavyweight Championship; however, Sheamus cashed in his Money in the Bank contract and defeated Reigns to win the title.
The professional wrestling matches at Survivor Series featured professional wrestlers performing as characters in scripted events pre-determined by the hosting promotion, WWE. Storylines between the characters played out on WWE’s primary television programs, Raw and SmackDown.
After Seth Rollins retained the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Hell in a Cell, a #1 contender was determined the next night on Raw. Eight wrestlers that were victorious at Hell in a Cell competed in singles matches, with the winners advancing to a Fatal 4-Way match. Roman Reigns emerged victorious and was named the #1 contender. However, on November 4, Rollins suffered multiple knee injuries at a live event in Dublin, Ireland; therefore, the title vacated and a tournament set up to crown a new champion. The tournament began on the November 9 episode of Raw, with the semifinals and the final match scheduled for Survivor Series. Since Roman Reigns was already the #1 contender, Triple H offered him to pass directly into the finals if he would join The Authority. Reigns refused, preferring to go through the tournament. On the November 16 episode of Raw, Reigns, Dean Ambrose, Intercontinental Champion Kevin Owens and United States Champion Alberto Del Rio advanced to the semifinals with victories over Cesaro, Dolph Ziggler, Neville and Kalisto respectively, setting up Reigns vs. Del Rio and Ambrose vs. Owens in the semifinals at the event.
On the November 2 episode of Raw thermos vacuum insulated 24 ounce, Paige defeated Becky Lynch, Brie Bella and Sasha Banks in a Fatal 4-Way match to earn a Divas Championship match against Charlotte at Survivor Series.
At Hell in a Cell, The Wyatt Family attacked The Undertaker after he had lost to Brock Lesnar in a Hell in a Cell match and carried him out of the arena. The following night on Raw, Undertaker’s brother Kane confronted The Wyatt Family but was also overpowered and carried out. On the November 9 episode of Raw, The Undertaker and Kane returned and attacked The Wyatt Family. On the November 12 episode of SmackDown, Bray Wyatt challenged the brothers to a tag team match at Survivor Series against two handpicked members of The Wyatt Family, which they accepted.
On the October 22 episode of SmackDown water canteen, Tyler Breeze made his WWE debut and attacked Dolph Ziggler. On the October 29 episode of SmackDown, after Ziggler defeated The Miz, Breeze attacked Ziggler. On the November 2 episode of Raw, Breeze distracted Ziggler during a match with Kevin Owens, allowing Owens to get the victory. On the November 19 episode of SmackDown, after Breeze defeated Zack Ryder, Ziggler attacked Breeze. Later in the show, a match between Ziggler and Breeze was scheduled for the event.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated an alleged threat by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) at the event. On November 21, 2015, the FBI released the statement, “The FBI is aware of reports of an alleged threat that includes an Atlanta, Georgia venue and event. While we take all threats seriously, we do not have specific or credible information of an attack at this time. We have, however, made the proper notifications as we continue to work closely with our law enforcement and private sector partners to keep our community safe.” International Business Times reported that the hacker group Anonymous were responsible for uncovering the information. WWE released a statement stating that the show would go on as scheduled. The show went on with no attack from ISIS.
During the pre-show, The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray Dudley and D-Von Dudley), Goldust, Neville, and Titus O’Neil faced The Cosmic Wasteland (Stardust, Konnor, and Viktor), The Miz, and Bo Dallas in a Survivor Series elimination tag team match. Viktor was eliminated by Goldust after a snap scoop powerslam. Konnor was eliminated by Bubba Ray after a side slam. Neville was eliminated by The Miz after a Bo-Dog by Dallas, followed by a Skull Crushing Finale by The Miz. The Miz was eliminated by Goldust with a schoolboy pin. Dallas was eliminated by O’Neil after a Clash of the Titus. Stardust was eliminated by D-Von after a 3-D by the Dudleyz, leaving Goldust, The Dudleyz and Titus O’Neil as the survivors.
The actual pay-per-view opened with the semifinals in the tournament for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. In the first semifinal, Roman Reigns faced United States Champion Alberto Del Rio (with Zeb Colter). In the end, Del Rio leapt off the top rope but Reigns avoided Del Rio and executed a Spear on Del Rio to win the match and advance to the finals.
Next, Dean Ambrose and Intercontinental Champion Kevin Owens competed in the second semifinal match. The match ended when Owens attempted a Pop Up Powerbomb but Ambrose countered the move with a Hurricanrana and executed Dirty Deeds on Owens to win the match and advance to the finals.
After that, Tag Team Champions The New Day (Big E, Kofi Kingston, and Xavier Woods), Sheamus and King Barrett faced The Usos (Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso), The Lucha Dragons (Kalisto and Sin Cara) and Ryback in a Survivor Series Elimination Tag Team match. Barrett was eliminated by Sin Cara after a Springboard Senton Bomb. Jimmy Uso was eliminated by Xavier Woods after a Backbreaker/Diving Double Foot Stomp combination with Kingston. Sin Cara was eliminated by Sheamus after a Brogue Kick. Big E was eliminated by Jey Uso after a Samoan Splash. After Big E was eliminated, Kingston and Woods left with Big E, eliminating Kingston and Woods. In the end, Sheamus received a Superkick from Jey Uso, a Hurricanrana from Kalisto and was eliminated by Ryback after Shellshocked, leaving Ryback, Kalisto and Jey as the survivors.
In the fourth match, Charlotte defended the WWE Divas Championship against Paige. During the match, Charlotte executed a Natural Selection on Paige, causing Paige to roll outside the ring. Paige climbed onto the barricade and taunted Charlotte, who also climbed up and executed a Spear on Paige. Charlotte, with her arms under the bottom rope, forced Paige to submit to the Figure Eight Leglock to retain.
In the fifth match, Tyler Breeze faced Dolph Ziggler. Breeze executed an Unprettier on Ziggler to win the match.
In the sixth match
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, The Brothers of Destruction (The Undertaker and Kane) fought Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper of The Wyatt Family, with Erick Rowan and Braun Strowman at ringside. Before the match, Undertaker and Kane performed a Double Chokeslam on Rowan. During the match, Undertaker and Kane performed a double Chokeslam on Strowman through a broadcast table. In the climax, Wyatt performed a Spider Walk but the Undertaker and Kane sat up simultaneously. Undertaker and Kane performed a Double Chokeslam on Wyatt and Harper before Undertaker pinned Harper after a Tombstone Piledriver to win the match.
In the main event, Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose fought in the tournament final for the vacant WWE World Heavyweight Championship. During the match, Ambrose leapt off the top rope but was intercepted by Reigns with a Superman Punch for a near-fall. Reigns performed a Spear on Ambrose for a near-fall. When Reigns attempted another Spear, Ambrose shoved him into the ring post and rolled him up for a near-fall. Ambrose executed Dirty Deeds on Reigns for a near-fall. Reigns performed another Spear on Ambrose to win the championship.
After the match, Triple H came in the ring to congratulate Reigns. Triple H offered Reigns a handshake but Reigns attacked him with a Spear. Sheamus surprised Reigns with a Brogue Kick and cashed in his Money in the Bank contract. After Reigns kicked out of a pinfall attempt, Sheamus executed another Brogue Kick on Reigns to win the championship.
The entire event and also “particularly the event’s finish, was widely met with negative reviews and utter disappointment from observers”, as described by Adam Silverstein of CBSSports.com. This was due to “mundane matches that failed to captivate the audience” and “replicated a clunky finish from a pay-per-view just one year earlier”, resulting in “a new World Heavyweight Champion in Sheamus that no one desires to see as part of the main event picture”. Silverstein highlighted the negative reaction of former WWE Champion Mick Foley, who was “on the verge of becoming a former WWE fan” after seeing how “WWE has completely failed to capitalize not only on the male wrestlers drawing positive reactions from the crowd” like “Ziggler to Cesaro to Kevin Owens”, but also the “female performers who are promoted well on the company’s NXT developmental show but hardly given any time to ‘get over'” on the WWE main roster.
Aaron Oster of Rolling Stone declared that Survivor Series was “a night that started with much promise, but ended in disappointment”. While the event was not “awful” due to an “phenomenal” entrance for the Undertaker on his 25th anniversary and three “solid” matches: the tournament semi-finals and the traditional Survivor Series tag match, “the main event … never connected and concluded in a way that cast a pall over the rest of the show – and quite possibly the company, too.” This was because “Sheamus cannot be the guy at the top of your card every night … When a bad guy’s biggest heel quality is his facial hair, it doesn’t bode well.” Also, it was “hard to buy” Roman Reigns as “a plucky underdog being screwed over by the Authority”, when leading into the event Reigns “still seemed like Vince McMahon’s handpicked guy”. For other topics, Oster said the “whole night was a tribute to the Undertaker”, who revived the “dead” crowd. Tyler Breeze’s character was enhanced by using the Unprettier move, while Dolph Ziggler, in copying Shawn Michaels’ dressing and mannerisms, “just needs to figure out who he is, and quickly.” Lastly, Oster questioned, “If they are going to go completely random with the Survivor Series matches, are they really worth having?”
James Cadwell of Pro Wrestling Torch rated the Del Rio-Reigns semi-final three-and-a-half stars out of five, “really good” in spite of the “outcome was never in doubt, removing some of the drama”. The Ambrose-Owens semi-final was rated three-and-a-quarter stars, due to both wrestlers being “really good in the ring and they had strong chemistry building to the finish”. For the women’s match, Caldwell wrote that it “didn’t generate enough of a reaction for a supposed grudge match”, and that “it’s so difficult for Charlotte’s character, like Reigns, to get sympathy in the babyface role when she towers over everyone and carries herself like she’s arrived”. The Undertaker participated in a “fine nostalgic match” that would be “satisfying” for fans of his, but for others an “exhibition match victory over heels who were defined-down as henchmen”. The tournament final was too short to be rated over two-and-three-quarters stars, where “WWE was just not going to waver from the plan to have Reigns win” despite Ambrose enjoying a more favorable reaction. Lastly, Caldwell wrote that “Lame Sheamus as champ” was “foreshadowed … earlier in the show by having Sheamus act like an idiot so ‘they’ll never see it coming!'”
John Powell of Canadian Online Explorer wrote that Survivor Series was “one of, if not the, worst WWE pay-per-view of 2015″. It “exposed all of the WWE’s weaknesses” and “epitomized the existing WWE product. It is musty, tedious and worst of all, predictable.” Powell singled out three main areas for criticism. Firstly, a “slipshod, bumbling interview” involving Dean Ambrose and a “rambling” Roman Reigns. Secondly, WWE keeping “fans in the dark” after “Network streaming issues”. Thirdly, “questionable booking”: the world champion heading out of the PPV was earlier “portrayed as an out-of-step idiot, easily pinned and losing the match for his team after being abandoned by The New Day”; “claiming to have a ‘Divas Revolution’ then pushing nobody but Paige, The Bellas and Charlotte”; the tournament final being a “mediocre rush job” at 9 minutes while the traditional Survivor Series match which was unhyped and had unannounced participants was given almost 20 minutes.
Will Pruett of Pro Wrestling Dot Net wrote that “WWE produced an evening filled with flaws, ranging from giant to minor” resulting in a “broken universe”. “The largest logical fallacy of Survivor Series was assuming anything being done on this show was being done for any reason other than ‘it’ll shock everyone’ or ‘that’s how we’ve always done it’.” Commenting on individual wrestlers, Pruett said that Roman Reigns, the ‘supposed sympathetic star’, ‘lost all sympathy’ by attacking Triple H, who “hadn’t been very evil when it came to Reigns”; “Alberto Del Rio has been noticeably disconnected in his matches since his return last month”; and Sheamus “could be a legitimate WWE Champion at some point”, but “WWE seems to abuse his character.” Lastly, Pruett felt that the Undertaker’s entrance and match was “a life raft of heartfelt joy”, “in the sea of negativity and sadness WWE lead me to” at the event.
The post-Survivor Series Raw was the lowest rated non-holiday episode since 1997 and the first time Raw averaged less than three million viewers since then. On that episode, Roman Reigns confronted The Authority and demanded a rematch against Sheamus for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship that night. Triple H scheduled a rematch for TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs in a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match before leaving Reigns to face Rusev that night, which Reigns won by disqualification after King Barrett interfered. On the November 30 episode of Raw, Reigns attacked Sheamus during his WWE World Heavyweight Championship celebrations before taking the belt with him. This prompted Sheamus to give Reigns a title match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship that night, but with the stipulation that Reigns must beat him in 5:15 (the amount of time that Reigns’ short-lived title reign lasted) in order to win the title. Reigns defeated Sheamus by disqualification after Rusev interfered, which prevented Reigns from winning the title. After the match, Sheamus was helped by Rusev, King Barrett and Alberto Del Rio, and introduced themselves as The League of Nations.
On the November 26 episode of SmackDown, Dean Ambrose won a Triple Threat match against Dolph Ziggler and Tyler Breeze to become the No. 1 contender to Kevin Owens’ Intercontinental Championship.
On the November 23 episode of Raw, to celebrate one year as a tag team, The New Day decided to do an open challenge to anyone who wants to have a shot at winning their WWE Tag Team Championship, but when The Lucha Dragons and The Usos got involved, they decided to cancel the challenge. On the November 30 episode of Raw, the match to determine the #1 contender between The Usos and The Lucha Dragons ended in a double disqualification after The New Day interfered. The Authority decided to make the WWE Tag Team Championship match a Triple Threat Tag Team Ladder match in which The Lucha Dragons were immediately inserted, but that The Usos would only participate if Roman Reigns defeated Sheamus that night. As Reigns won by disqualification, The Usos were inserted into the title match.
On the November 23 episode of Raw, The Wyatt Family defeated The Dudley Boyz before repeatedly attacking them. On the November 26 episode of SmackDown, The Dudley Boyz defeated The Wyatt Family (Braun Strowman and Erick Rowan) by disqualification after Wyatt Family member Luke Harper interfered in the match. Afterwards, The Wyatt Family put Bubba Ray Dudley through a table. On the November 30 episode of Raw, The Dudley Boyz introduced Tommy Dreamer, making his return to WWE in over 5 years, to join them in their ongoing fight against The Wyatt Family.
After failing to beat Charlotte for the WWE Divas Championship at the event, Paige accused her of cheating similar to that of her father Ric Flair on the November 23 episode of Raw. The two faced each other that night in a rematch for the WWE Divas Championship which ended in a double count-out after Paige failed to get back in the ring in time after preventing Charlotte from getting back in first. After the match, Paige continued to attack Charlotte which ended with Paige trapping Charlotte in the PTO on top of the broadcast table. On the November 30 episode of Raw, Charlotte defeated her friend Becky Lynch after she faked a leg injury and her father distracted Lynch to allow her to roll Lynch for the win. Their friendship was further strained on the December 3 episode of SmackDown, when Charlotte attacked Lynch’s opponent Brie Bella while locked in the Dis-arm-her after Bella hit her by accident, giving Bella a disqualification win.