Team Ziggler (Dolph Ziggler, Alberto Del Rio, Wade Barrett, Damien Sandow & David Otunga) def. Team Foley (Randy Orton, WWE Tag Team Champions Team Hell No, The Miz & Intercontinental Champion Kofi Kingston)

BY Anthony Benigno

November 18, 2012

As the T-shirt says, it’s not showing off if you back it up. And Dolph Ziggler found himself vindicated, validated and ensconced in WWE history when he fulfilled his own prophecy, and stood tall as the sole survivor of his Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Tag Team Match in Indianapolis.

Backing it up isn’t always the easiest thing to do, however, even if you’re Dolph Ziggler. It didn’t look like things were going to go so great for The Showoff at first, as internal discord threatened to tear his squad apart before the 26th annual Survivor Series even started. His fortunes didn’t immediately improve after the opening bell, either. Trouble struck for Team Ziggler early on when last-minute addition David Otunga (replacing the injured Cody Rhodes) found himself subject to a multi-pronged onslaught from two of Team Foley’s aces, Intercontinental Champion Kofi Kingston and WWE Tag Team Champion Daniel Bryan.

A last-minute reversal by Otunga left Bryan down, though, and the Harvard Law grad summoned Damien Sandow from Ziggler’s ranks. The tag looked promising initially after Sandow floored Bryan with the Elbow of Disdain, but Bryan’s comeback left The Enlightened One so beaten down he actually attempted to leave the match. Kane was having none of it, though, retrieving Sandow mid-retreat and feeding “The Duke of Decency” to the submission technician. Kane tagged himself in to execute the Chokeslam that drew first blood for Team Foley.

Ziggler caught a break, though, after Team Foley nearly collapsed in on itself following Sandow’s elimination. Team Hell No quickly dissolved into their trademark bickering, with Kane going so far as to toss Bryan from the ring. The Showoff capitalized on The Big Red Monster’s preoccupation, hitting Kane with the Zig Zag to send the demon packing. The Miz and Randy Orton nearly came to blows as well, but The Hardcore Legend’s team eventually closed ranks when Kofi sent Ziggler tumbling through the air with a textbook monkey flip, boosting morale considerably for the mismatched fan favorites.

Bryan and Barrett tagged in next, and although the brawling Englishman softened the “No!” man up nicely, Otunga proved unable to capitalize. He was promptly wrenched into the “No!” Lock, submitting to Bryan’s patented hold and bringing the score to 2-1 in favor of Team Foley. Alberto Del Rio attempted to pick up the pieces, but was quickly tossed over the ropes by Bryan. The submission expert tagged in Kofi, but “The Wildcat” was sent to the showers when Del Rio called up Barrett. The Englishman made quick work of the Intercontinental Champion, felling Kofi with the 1-2 combo of the Winds of Change and the thunderous Bull Hammer elbow.

Next up was Randy Orton, who went toe-to-toe with his former Survivor Series counterpart (the two were team captains at last year’s fall classic). When Orton’s attempt to tag in The Miz was unceremoniously rebuked by The Awesome One, Bryan stepped in to resume the attack. A flurry of offense by the WWE Tag Team Champion was cut short when Barrett booted Bryan from the ring and tagged in Del Rio. Amazingly, The Mexican Aristocrat would escape the “No!” Lock and force Bryan to submit to the Cross Armbreaker, giving Team Ziggler the advantage for the first time in the contest. Orton gave Del Rio a taste of his own medicine, stomping on The Mexican Aristocrat’s arm with great prejudice in an imitation of Del Rio’s own time-honored strategy. The master soon showed the crowd how it was done, going to town on Orton’s arm and summoning Ziggler to finish The Viper off. The Showoff proved unsuccessful, though, and was forced to call Barrett to finish what he started.

If only Orton hadn’t reached Miz first.

The Awesome One stormed into the contest and would not be denied, giving Team Foley some breathing room when he eliminated Barrett with the Skull-Crushing Finale, thereby evening the playing field once more. Miz’s heroics were short-lived, though, after Del Rio tipped the scales back in The Showoff’s favor by stunning Miz with an enzuigiri and planting The Awesome One on the mat for the three-count.

The Viper stood alone. And this, of course, is how Orton operates best.

Free of the teammates he never wanted much to do with, Orton laid waste to both Ziggler and Del Rio. Ricardo Rodriguez saved his boss’s skin, though, when he distracted The Viper on the apron (He later paid dearly when Foley applied Mr. Socko to the beleaguered announcer at ringside). The Showoff’s attempt at teamwork fell short as well when a dropkick he meant for Orton instead struck Del Rio. Orton sealed the deal by reversing the Cross Armbreaker into the RKO, sending Del Rio back to his (no doubt lavish) shower.

And then, there were two.

Orton was merciless in his unmanning of The Showoff, eluding the Zig Zag and felling Mr. Money in the Bank with a hanging DDT. Victory was an RKO away, but Orton had something more sinister on his mind: With Ziggler scrambling for his bearings, Orton retreated to the corner and set up for his patented punt to the head.

Ziggler, as it turned out, had a kick ready as well.

The Showoff sprang up and decked Orton with a bone-jarring superkick, putting Orton on his back and swarming the prone Viper to put the long, brutal contest to an end. Consider the series survived, and the show stolen.