In the beginning, it was just two groups of five Superstars, marking their turf in the ring like street gangs waiting to rumble. The assemblage of John Cena, Dolph Ziggler, Big Show, Erick Rowan and Ryback â€” a team that was systemically picked apart by The Authority in the weeks leading up to Survivor Series, resulting in the loss of a now injured Sheamus â€” seemed poised, focused on knocking The Authority out of power and, more importantly, keeping their jobs. Team Authorityâ€™s gathering of Seth Rollins, Kane, Mark Henry, Luke Harper and Rusev was beyond fired up, inspired by The Game to win so that he and Stephanie McMahon would remain in control.
The Cerebral Assassinâ€™s intense leadership backfired early, though. When Triple H slapped The Worldâ€™s Strongest Man across the face to inspire rage in the monster, Henry blindly charged into battle and walked right into the waiting knuckles of The Worldâ€™s Largest Athlete. Three seconds later and Team Authority was already down a member.
This early advantage gave Team Cena an obvious confidence as Big Show fended off attacks from both Rollins and Kane. Cena got in on the action early, too, taking The Director of Operations off his feet with an unexpected dropkick. Tags came fast from Team Cena as the five-man side kept the pressure on The Authorityâ€™s crew.
The first heated showdown of the match came when Rusev and Ryback squared off in the center of the ring, trading heavy fire like Abrams tanks. The Big Guy got the advantage over the Russian, destroying him with a Meat Hook clothesline, but missing on Shell Shocked, which led to a complete melee with the referee losing all control. With the official distracted, a sly Rollins Curb Stomped Ryback. A moment later, Rusev blasted him with a brutal thrust kick and pinned The Big Guy, evening the playing field.
Rybackâ€™s dismissal was an important one as the momentum swung in Team Authorityâ€™s favor from there. When The Gameâ€™s group was working together, they were nearly unstoppable. At one point, Ziggler got trapped in the enemy corner where he was viciously stomped on by every member of Team Authority. Somehow, Ziggler stayed in the fight and powered his way out of multiple pin attempts. Still, the look of concern on Cenaâ€™s face was unmistakable as he watched his teammate getting pulverized in the ring.
In a last ditch effort, Ziggler attempted a Famouser on Rusev, who caught him in midair and launched him out of the ring. Something seemed to snap in The Super Athlete at that moment as he dragged Ziggler to the Spanish announce table, laid him across it and threw his body at his prone opponent. Ziggler escaped at the last minute, sending Rusev face-first through the pine. Dolph managed to crawl his way back into the ring at the last second, but not Rusev, who was counted out and eliminated, leaving Team Authority down another vital member.
Back in the ring, Dolph made the tag to Cena, who annihilated Kane with a Five Knuckle Shuffle and an AA. Rollins saved his partner by Curb Stomping Cena and then sliding back out of the ring. From there, WWE fans finally got to see Rowan vs. Harper, as the two unorthodox titans teed off on each other with explosive offense. Rowan showed surprising agility, dispatching Harper with a leaping sidekick, before Harper took him out with a devastating discus clothesline.
The sides were even at this point â€” although Cena and Dolph were so drained they were practically out of the picture. Still, Big Show stood determined before the combined forces of Harper, Rollins and Kane. But the moment Cena struggled to his feet to stand with him, The Worldâ€™s Largest Athlete turned to the side, pulled back his fist and clobbered his partner with a debilitating Knockout Punch. The giant had betrayed Team Cena â€” something that was made all the more clear when he walked over to ringside to shake hands with Triple H. Rollins shockingly pinned squad captain Cena as Big Show exited the arena, leaving Ziggler as the sole representative of Team Cena.
The weight of the situation began to sink in as Stephanie McMahon mocked a dazed Cena at ringside. Team Cena had lost, Cenaâ€™s teammates would be fired and The Authorityâ€™s influence would thrive. The disappointment in the Scotttrade Center was palpable as Team Authority took their time decimating Ziggler, dragging out the inevitable ending to this epic match. And then Ziggler caught fire.
The Showoff connected with a crossbody from the top rope on Kane and then pinned him after a thrilling Zig Zag. Next, he weathered an offensive storm from Harper â€” which included an ugly sitout powerbomb â€” and rolled up the monster for another elimination.
Somehow, Dolph was doing it all on his own. And it wasnâ€™t long before he caught Rollins, the last surviving member of Team Authority, in two deliriously close near-falls. Triple H looked to be on the verge of an emotional breakdown at ringside as Ziggler connected with another Zig Zag on Rollins. When the officialâ€™s hand neared the mat for the decisive three-count, a desperate Game grabbed him by the leg and dragged him out of the ring.
This is when the true mayhem of the match began. Triple H clocked the referee at ringside and then sent J & J Security into the ring to beat on Dolph, who, in a Bruce Lee moment of offensive brilliance, took out both men, avoided a Curb Stomp from Rollins and Zig Zagged him yet again! When a second referee appeared to count the pin, The Game took him out, too.
Incensed, Triple H pulled off his suit coat and began to rain fists down upon an incapacitated Ziggler. When he hit Dolph with a Pedigree and pulled Rollins on top of him, it looked like Team Cena had reached the end of the line. A third referee arrived to make the count, and then it happened.
A crow cawed in the distance, the lights dimmed and The Man Called Sting made his WWE debut.
Slowly stalking down the aisle before an ecstatic gathering of fans â€” who seemed to immediately grasp that they were now a part of history â€” Sting stepped into a WWE ring for the first time.
Triple H stared across the ring at the WCW icon, baffled and maybe somewhat intimidated, as the two men locked eyes for what seemed like an eternity. An appreciative crowd chanted, â€śThis is awesome!â€ť at the scene that was playing out before them until the tension snapped and The Game took a swing at The Stinger. Sting dodged it, blasted Triple H in the gut with a kick and brought him down to the mat with his signature Scorpion Death Drop. The former WCW Champion then dragged Zigglerâ€™s lifeless body on top of Rollins, exited the ring and walked back up the aisle as the original referee crawled back into the ring and counted the decisive pinfall.