I’ve mentioned before how I think that Survivor Series has been the most consistently great Pay-Per-View of the last few years and that streak certainly continued tonights. I have my gripes, as I always do, but looking through the whole show I can honestly say there wasn’t a single match I didn’t like. I was worried that having WarGames so close would potentially hamper the NXT contingent of this show, but the whole thing seemingly went off without a hitch, which is a very pleasant surprise indeed.
Still, we’ve got 10 matches to get through here and I’ve got a lot to say about some of them, so let’s get on with it.
10 – Robert Roode & Dolph Ziggler won the Tag Team Battle Royal
(Raw vs Smackdown vs NXT)
Like a lot of the battle royals we’ve seen this year (because come to think of it, we’ve seen A LOT of battle royals this year) this one had no faults, but there’s also nothing in particular worth praising about it. It was a pretty standard formula, the eliminations came thick and fast in the early stages before things slowed down a bit and there was more wrestling when there we just a few teams left.
I would’ve preferred if someone other than Ziggler & Roode won, but given that this was just here as a way to pad-out the scorecard for Smackdown, then I can’t really find it in me to condemn it for being a bad decision, it’s not like anyone’s going to remember this match come Friday.
9 – Brock Lesnar(c) def. Rey Mysterio
(No Holds Barred)
I do love a good family outing.
The layout of this match and the general pacing of it felt incredibly similar to Lesnar vs Bryan from last year’s show and, to a certain extent, it gave me the same sort of feelings, however, this was all crammed into 7 minutes instead of being given 20.
The opening 4-5 minutes were what you’d expect from a Brock Lesnar match, he was throwing Rey around and generally looking like a monster, however, that all turned around and the match got exciting once Rey’s son Dominic – of all people – showed up and turned the tides. It may have been a tad cheesy, but I enjoyed Dominic’s involvement in the match, everyone seems to be fully aware of Lesnar’s glowing weak spot that is his balls at this point and they make no bones about exploiting it. Then there was the double 619 which, once again, cheesy but fun.
I wish the match had gone a bit longer and Rey’s comeback had been given a little more time to breathe, but I still came away from this match feeling satisfied with what I watched and looking forward to this potentially going somewhere new in the near future.
8 – Team Smackdown def. Team Raw & Team NXT
(5 on 5 on 5 Men’s Elimination Tag)
The two elimination tag matches of the show are on opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of what can be done with these kinds of matches and unfortunately, this was towards the low end. It had some redeeming features, which I’ll get to in a moment but it most certainly had its problems too.
First off, there were WAY too many quick eliminations, nevermind whether or not it’s someone I like, you had Riddle, Preist, WALTER, Orton, Gable and Owens all eliminated within 5 minutes of each other, which is ridiculous. I get that you’ve gotta have 14 pinfalls in a match, but there was a much better way to pace them than this, which the other elimination tag match on the show proved. My biggest gripe was the straight-up inconsistency in the rules, because in this match there were no countouts…except for when Braun Strowman got eliminated by countout; after that elimination, Ciampa, Rollins & Reigns all spent a lot of time outside of the ring while still being the legal man towards the end of the match and suddenly there was no count, which really irked me.
However, I still came away from this match feeling like I enjoyed the experience and that is because the closing 10 minutes of the match were great. When it was down to Rollins, Reigns, Ciampa & Lee the match really picked up in quality, the focus went away from spamming finishers and quick pins, to proper, fast-paced wrestling and it was very enjoyable. Not to mention that we got to see a star-making performance from Keith Lee, the final few minutes with him and Reigns going back and forth were something else and I’d very much like to see a full match of that in the future. Even though Lee didn’t win, he came out of this match with his stock undeniably raised which is brilliant.
As much as I loved that final segment, it was only about a third of the match and the preceding two-thirds weren’t great and, on a show with so many good-to-great matches, that unfortunately lands it down in 8th place.
7 – Lio Rush(c) def. Kalisto & Akira Tozowa
(Raw vs Smackdown vs NXT)
I think from now on, the Cruiserweight Championship should be exclusively defended in Triple Threat matches because these are always great.
Lio Rush is such a human highlight reel at this point, the stuff he is able to do when he’s let off the leash is so much fun to watch. When the pace of the match looked to be slowing slightly, Rush was ready to jump right back in and accelerate it all back up to fever pitch and keep it there pretty much the whole way.
Tozowa & Kalisto put in great performances to and I’m very pleased because it’s been so long since I’ve been able to say that about Kalisto. Kalisto specifically seemed to have really good chemistry with Rush, then I noticed that he was able to keep pace with Rush slightly better than Tozowa was and watching the pair of them go back and forth was an absolute joy.
Now 205 Live is moving to Full Sail, I’m most certainly going to get back into watching it because if we’re going to be getting stuff like this every week, it’s going to be the most must-watch show in the business.
6 – Shayna Baszler def. Becky Lynch & Bayley
(Raw vs Smackdown vs NXT)
This was inarguably a good match, but I can’t help but feel a tad disappointed.
The pace for this one was slightly slower and I thought that was mostly to its benefit. Every move felt very deliberate and it gave the impression that each woman had really done their homework on their opponents. It was also a pace that let Baszler absolutely shine, she was effortlessly taking control of the match the whole way through and it made things all the more exciting when Becky or Bayley suddenly got a burst of offence.
The disappointment I was referring to comes from the finish because I feel like the match ended a few minutes too soon. When Shayna locked in that Kirifuda Clutch on Bayley it felt to me like the final act of the match was just getting going, I didn’t think that the fairly naff looking table spot would’ve been enough to keep Becky down and we’d get a final burst of back and forth between the three women before the match ended. Instead, Bayley just tapped out and that was that. Then there was what happened after the bell where Becky put Shayna through a table, which achieved nothing. It didn’t send the crowd home happy because the Chicago crowd were VERY happy about Baszler’s win, it didn’t help Becky because she just looked like a sore loser and it definitely didn’t help Shayna because she got her victory undercut and that was how the show ended, it was a tad deflating.
However, I’m not going to let a relatively minor complaint takeaway too much from the fact that this was a really good match overall. The pacing was spot on, every woman got a chance to shine and ultimately, I’d say the right woman came out the victor.
5 – Roderick Strong(c) def. Shinsuke Nakamura & AJ Styles
(Raw vs Smackdown vs NXT)
This is the point in the list where we get to the matches that I have little-to-none in terms of complaints and how I rank them comes down purely to personal preference.
I don’t think there was any ever doubt about how good this match was going to be, you’ve got three pure wrestlers who are very good at what they do and they used the triple threat formula to great advantage in this instance. To say that everyone got a chance to shine is somewhat of an understatement, whether it was intentional or not, all three of these men looked like staunch equals the whole way through the match and a lot of that was thanks to the balance that was struck between each of their times on offence.
All three men had great chemistry when the match broke down into one on one fights and it made the occasional periods where all three of them were in the ring at once feel all the more hectic and fun. I wasn’t expecting Roddy to win at all but I thought how this went down worked for both Strong’s character and the running theme throughout the night of NXT winning their matches by being intelligent and tactical.
Nothing more to say really, this was just a really great triple threat match.
4 – The Fiend Bray Wyatt(c) def. Daniel Bryan
Ok, the red lighting worked for Hell in a Cell, but it’s gotten pretty old now.
This match wasn’t the wrestling clinic that we got between these two in 2014, but that’s because it’s not what this match was meant to be. The more I think about it, the weirder it would be for The Fiend to put on a tense, back and forth 20 minute clinic, instead The Fiend just needs to go in and execute his unique style and it’s how the opponent responds and adapts to it that makes for both an interesting match and an interesting story. Enter Daniel Bryan.
I know the story beats in the lead up to this match were minimal at best, but Bryan did everything in his power to make them feel like a big deal in this match and at least somewhat succeeded. Bryan did a fantastic job of selling the beating he was taking from The Fiend and things got even better when he started to mount his comeback, seeing Bryan go back to wrestling a full face style after so long was a joy to watch, including the biggest Yes! chant we’ve seen since Bryan’s return last year.
It would’ve been nice if this match had got a bit more time, but I’m not entirely sure it needed it. I think it got in, told its story very efficiently and hit all the right beats to be exciting and got out before it started to drag on.
3 – Team NXT def. Team Raw & Team Smackdown
(5 on 5 on 5 Women’s Elimination Tag)
This match was the polar opposite of the men’s elimination tag match. While the men’s match had way too many quick eliminations and basically no wrestling until the final segment, this match paced all of its eliminations really well, leveraging the story points it had to great effect, and built to a great climax.
What I loved about this match is that, even though there were 15 competitors, everyone got a chance to look good and have some sort of spot in the match. Be it, Sarah Logan, looking like a legit beast for the first time ever, Io Shirai & Kairi Sane having a face-off that makes me to incredibly sad we never got that match in NXT like we were supposed to, or even Carmella leaping around trying to get attention; everyone got a chance to stand out.
The eliminations felt earned instead of being quick and cheap, it avoided annoying everyone because they weren’t “out of nowhere”. It also meant that a match-long story was able to build itself up, with NXT going two down early on and being forced to pick their spots until by the end they had the numbers advantage. I liked Asuka’s role in the match, going absolutely ape-shit after Kairi got eliminated, culminating in causing Charlotte to get eliminated with the mist.
If we’re talking about individual performances though, we’ve got to talk about Rhea Ripley. If we look at Smackdown on Friday, WarGames on Saturday and now the match last night, Ripley has gone from “sort of popular babyface, but it’s probably just a flash in the pan” to “This woman is a made star”. The pop when she first got tagged into the match and eventually won was huge and when it comes to having their stock elevated, no-one has done better for themselves this weekend than Rhea Ripley, I cannot wait to see her and Baszler go at it for the title.
2 – The Viking Raiders def. The New Day & The Undisputed Era
(Raw vs Smackdown vs NXT)
To sum up my thoughts on this match in a single character: !
Viking Raiders & Undisputed Era have always had great chemistry from their time together in NXT, so this match takes those two teams and throw in The New Day a team who can have a top-quality tag team match with damn-near anyone, this thing was an absolute blast from start to finish.
The Viking Raiders were seemingly always in the mix during the match and quite frankly this match has done more favour for them than all of their previous RAW matches combined. Watching Erik(or Ivar, I honestly have no idea) facing down Big E was an absolute joy, only heightened with how sneaky and opportunistic Undisputed Era played it. The psychology was there too, with UE spending the whole match targeting all their opponent’s leg.
A little upset that Kofi Kingston has gone from 180 days as WWE Champion to the least important man in this 6 man tag on the pre-show, but that fact doesn’t take away from how great this thing was.
The pacing was spot-on the whole way through this thing too, it started off quite fast and tense, before slowing it down around the middle with UE and Viking Raiders having an extended sequence together, it lengthened out the build to the inevitable breakdown towards the end, making it all the most exciting when it finally hit. The whole finishing sequence was great fun, I loved UE going hell-for-leather taking out The New Day only to have to suddenly stop in order to not get flatted by The Viking Raiders, even if they ended up being unsuccessful.
This is how good tag team wrestling can be in WWE, I would very much like more of it.
1 – Adam Cole(c) def. Pete Dunne
No points for guessing this match would top the list.
Despite both of these men (especially Cole) going through long and gruelling matches last night, this match didn’t feel like it suffered from that one bit. Cole has undeniably been the MVP of this whole “NXT Invasion” angle and this match only solidified that statement as, not only did he make sure that WarGames the previous night didn’t drag him down, he worked it to his advantage and made it add something to the match.
These two guys were always going to have fantastic chemistry in this match and they did not disappoint in the slightest, both men made sure to show the effects the WarGames match had on their bodies and it made for a match where every move felt very hard-hitting and the way both would sell every little injury like a big deal did so much to elevate this match to the fantastic bout it was.
It wasn’t fast and furious because it didn’t need to be, instead it focused on moves that gave the highest impact possible, including a God-damned Panama Sunrise on the God-damned ring apron, that looked brutal. The whole finishing sequence damn near blew my mind with how it turned out, I’ve watched it over ten times now and I still can’t work out how the two of them managed to pull off the Bitter End into Panama Sunrise spot, it was certainly something too behold and was a fantastically exciting way to end the match.
So there you have it! Those are my thoughts on Survivor Series! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this review, please let me know what you thought of the show, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo! Finally, make sure to come back on Saturday where I’ll be running down my favourite new Pokemon from Sword & Shield!