Our delayed review of this year’s Survivor Series, featuring an almost hour-long Survivor Series match… and a main event that was at the other end of the scale!
Well, if WWE were still into numbering, this would be Survivor Series 30 – and probably a much bigger deal.
We started with a kick-off match (in the second hour of the kick-off show), designed to plug the debut of 205 Live in a week or so.
Ariya Daivari, Drew Gulak & Tony Nese vs. Noam Dar, Rich Swann & TJ Perkins
A good opener, sadly held in front of a pretty empty Air Canada Centre, with Swann, then Perkins getting the better of Tony Nese in the opening exchanges. Perkins hits a vertical, then a back suplex for a near-fall, before Nese powered out of an Octopus hold.
In the middle of the match, the disembodied voice of Renee Young appeared over the match, presumably as someone decided to broadcast some production talk ahead of the next panellists segment. Swann and Perkins double-teamed Gulak, before bringing in Noam Dar, who worked over Gulak’s arm before… tagging out.
After absorbing some punishment, Perkins caught a wheelbarrow on Gulak and rolled through into a knee-bar, before the ring filled as the hold was broken – taking us to a commercial break. When we returned, Dar was working over Daivari, before a distraction led to him taking a spinebuster for a near-fall. Dar was kicked and caught in the ropes, leading to a superkick for a near-fall from Daivari as the Scotsman became isolated in the ring. A double rolling leg sweep saw Gulak and Nese keep Dar down.
Eventually, some mis-timing from Daivari saw him trap himself in the ropes as Dar went to knock Gulak off the apron, which led to the comeback as Swann got the hot tag and knocked down Daivari with clotheslines, then a standing double stomp to the back. Swann sent Daivari off the top rope with a leaping ‘rana for a near-fall, only for some distraction to lead to the ring filling once more. That segued into a series of dives, ending with the referee stopping Perkins… just because. So Perkins flew over him with a tope con hilo anyway!
Back in the ring, a heel kick from Swann knocked down Daivari, before the standing 450 Splash earned the win. Decent opener, but these crowd reactions aren’t looking promising for 205 Live… ***
Kane vs. Luke Harper
We started with the WWE version of “big lads wrestling”, with shoulder tackles and a lot of stalling. Kane dropped Harper with a back suplex, before working over Harper’s left arm.
The match went outside, with Harper throwing himself at Kane with a tope suicida, before a slingshot senton back into the ring got him a near-fall. After a commercial, we returned to see Harper grounding Kane in a rear chinlock, before Harper looked to go up top. He was cut-off by Kane who followed him up there, bringing him back down with a superplex. That infernal “ten” counting gimmick returned as Kane went for – and lost – a chokeslam, as he made a comeback. A sidewalk slam got Kane a near-fall, but Harper turned the tables, getting a near-fall from a sunset flip after being backdropped out of a powerbomb. Kane’s DDT gets a two-count, before a Bossman slam almost won it for Harper.
Luke set himself up in the corner for a discus clothesline, but Kane caught him with a chokeslam, and that was it. Slow, plodding, and really not that good, despite Harper’s best efforts. *½
The main pay-per-view opened with the usual video packages, segueing between footage from the video game and real life. It’s been a while since WWE’s put out a bad video package, and that wait continues!
Survivor Series Elimination Match: Raw (Bayley, Alicia Fox, Nia Jax, Sasha Banks & Charlotte) vs. SmackDown Live (Becky Lynch, Naomi, Alexa Bliss, Carmella & Natalya)
In what’ll be a feature tonight, you can tell who’s there to make up the numbers by how short their entrance is! Natalya subbed for Nikki Bella after a mysterious backstage attack, and in a nice move, all of the women co-ordinated their gear to the brand they’re on. Except Nia Jax, who just wore a t-shirt.
A singular Bronco Buster from Carmella earned her a one-count as the production crew decided not to show any further exchanges before we had some back and forth amongst the Raw team as Sasha, Bayley and Charlotte wanted to face Becky… and then the ring filled. Eventually we got Becky and Charlotte for a while, with a delayed O’Connor roll leading to Charlotte slamming a knee into Becky’s midsection.
Becky retaliates with the Dis-Arm-Her, but Charlotte scurried out and tagged in Nia Jax, who ran through the entire SmackDown squad. A double clothesline knocked down Carmella and Natalya, before tagging in Fox, who then avoided another Bronco Buster. Fox then eliminated Carmella with a headkick, before Alexa’s Twisted Bliss splash seconds later took Fox out of the match.
The quick eliminations continued as Naomi flew outside with a diving crossbody onto Jax, who then retaliated by throwing her into the post for a count-out elimination. Sasha fought her way out of the SmackDown corner and caught Natalya with a knee to the face, before sending the Canadian into Alexa in the corner. Bliss took the double knees before Natalya ate a Meteora off the apron, only to recover with a schoolboy roll-up to eliminate the former Raw Women’s champion.
We got Charlotte and Natalya for a spell, featuring a powerbomb out of the corner as Natalya countered a moonsault attempt, but Nia Jax broke that up. Charlotte scurried to the ropes to break a Sharpshooter, before a big boot eliminated Natalya. We are firmly in “transitional move elimination” territory, people.
Bliss and Becky argued amongst themselves, but managed to work together for a brief moment, only for Jax to hit a double suplex to the pair of them. Another blind tag saw Becky dropkick Bliss as she was caught in a bodyslam, eventually getting a near-fall before the Dis-Arm-Her surprisingly forced Nia to tap. That left us with two-on-two, but Jax obliterated Becky by throwing her into the barriers.
Charlotte rushes in with another kick to Alexa to cause the latest elimination, leaving Becky against Charlotte and Bayley. Becky punched out of a Figure Eight attempt, then unloaded on Charlotte with a leg lariat, before a forearm in the corner led to a Becks-plex on the Raw Women’s champ. Lynch went up top and landed the Dublin Jam top rope legdrop, but Bayley broke up the cover.
We ended with Bayley and Becky, with the former getting a near-fall out of a jack-knife cover, before taking a pumphandle exploder for a near-fall. Lynch misses a sit-out slam, and takes a sliding lariat for a near-fall. Another Dis-Arm-Her attempt sees Becky hold onto the ropes, before landing the Bayley-to-Belly to secure the win for her team. A good match, but there was way too much of the throwaway eliminations here. It was odd to see Jax losing so clean, but it was what it was. *½
After the match, Charlotte jumped Bayley before throwing her out of the ring, then repeatedly into the crowd barriers, so there’s our next Raw Women’s title feud?
A backstage segment with James Ellsworth and the Club. Bad chin-related comedy from Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows, before Mick Foley made the save… with a probably not-PG joke.
WWE Intercontinental Championship: The Miz (c) vs. Sami Zayn
The revolving commentary table saw Michael Cole and David Otunga replace Mauro Ranallo and Corey Graves for this match, as we saw footage of how the Miz regained the Intercontinental title from Dolph Ziggler… and left Dolph firmly off the card tonight.
Zayn takes down Miz with an arm whip for an early pinfall attempt, before a La Magistral roll-up nearly ended the match early. A short leg lariat took Miz to the outside, and in place for an aborted tope con hilo as Miz walked away. Zayn countered a whip into the barricade by moonsaulting off it and onto Miz, but a distraction from Maryse led to a chop block from the champion. Back inside, Zayn chopped away at Miz, before launching into some mounted punches that make me hate those infernal “ten!” chants. I’ll take the Moose counts ahead of it…
Miz grabs a leg to stop Zayn from setting up a tope, before whipping Zayn’s leg into the ring post. Zayn eventually hits the tope con hilo after Miz had gone towards the aisle. Back inside, Miz gets a near-fall out of a DDT, before a series of dropkicks into the corner kept Zayn in trouble as Miz repeated his taunts towards Daniel Bryan. We’ve got to be getting that match, right? Or why else would they keep poking us in that direction?
Zayn strikes back with a Blue Thunder Bomb after catching Miz off the top rope, before rolling through a Skull Crushing Finale into a near-fall. An Exploder dropped Miz into the turnbuckles, and in place for a Helluva kick, but Miz moved away, before capitalising with a figure four in the middle of the ring. Eventually they rolled into the ropes to force a break, as Miz resumed with some kicks to the chest of Zayn, mocking Daniel Bryan some more, before Zayn ducked one and caught a figure four on Miz!
Miz sold the hold, before being dragged to the middle of the ring when out of nowhere, the bell rang… as Maryse had taken over the timekeeper’s table. Zayn thought he’d won, but the match continued as Miz snatched a schoolboy for the win. As far as a cheat-to-win finish, that was a pretty good one had it not taken place on Survivor Series. It does make Zayn look a little dumb, since he clearly celebrated without seeing a tap or presumably hear a “I give up”, but ah well. A good match nevertheless. ***¾
We get a backstage segment with AJ Styles and Dean Ambrose building up their involvement in the Raw vs. SmackDown Survivor Series match… with a little build-up to their TLC match in two weeks’ time. Yep. Another PPV.
Survivor Series Elimination Match: Raw (Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady, Shining Stars (Primo & Epico), Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows, Sheamus & Cesaro and The New Day (Big E & Kofi Kingston) vs. SmackDown Live (Rhyno & Heath Slater, Breezango (Tyler Breeze & Fandango), The Usos (Jimmy Uso & Jey Uso), Hype Bros (Zack Ryder & Mojo Rawley) & American Alpha (Jason Jordan & Chad Gable)
This is under the “one team member is eliminated, both are gone” rules. Yeah… so the Shining Stars try and pitch Puerto Rico to Enzo and Cass on the stage. I’ve seen better gimmicks… Cesaro’s rip-apart suit looked more like a strait jacket tonight… whilst the Raw tag teams seemed a little miffed at having to provide a guard of honour for the New Day.
Ryder had some custom gear made in the style of the old Survivor Series logo, showing that at least one of these twenty guys thought this was something special!
Fandango from the “Fashion Police” of Breezango started us off, throwing tickets at the entire Raw team, before turning around into the Midnight Hour as Fandango was ejected inside the opening minute. The New Day didn’t last much longer as Kofi Kingston turned into a superkick from Jey Uso before getting pinned. Transitional move eliminations, everyone! I bet the main event doesn’t have too many of those…
The Club and the Usos worked briefly, before Cass forcibly tagged in from Anderson. As you’d expect with a 20 man tag, there was a lot of frequent tagging, with guys taking a month then heading out. Mojo Rawley hit the bell clapper on Epico after a lot of theatrics, before the Stars combined to work over Mojo with a DDT.
A double cross body knocked down Mojo and Anderson, but Rawley tagged in Ryder who kept the offence up with a Broski Boot. Ryder gets caught with a knee as he re-entered the ring, and quickly fell to the Magic Killer as the Hype Bros were sent packing. American Alpha replaced them and quickly found themselves on the defensive, as Epico landed a slingshot elbow drop onto Gable for a near-fall.
Epico drilled Gable with a series of rolling suplexes: belly to back, a German then a hanging vertical suplex for a near-fall. Primo got caught in the corner after missing a splash in the turnbuckles, and after Cass untied him, he was caught with a Steiner Brother-esque top rope bulldog for the next elimination. At this point the ring filled up like a low-rent version of West Side Story, leading to a 12-way melee, settling down with Slater and Rhyno against Enzo and Cass. Enzo’s sent flying to the outside courtesy of Cass, who then booted Rhyno off the apron to the floor, with Heath Slater completing the set with a crowd surfing dive off the top rope.
Is it me, or is Heath slowly turning into a cast member of Geordie Shore??
Cesaro and Sheamus worked over American Alpha, with Jorgan taking a Giant Swing, before Gable made the save with a Chaos Theory rolling German suplex, before a pop-up somersault plancha to the outside. Jordan looked to go airborne next, but he was cut-off by Gallows as another Magic Killer scored another elimination.
Health Slater’s brief comeback ended with an Anderson spinebuster before finding himself isolated by Gallows and Sheamus. A missed shot knocked Enzo off the apron, and the ensuing argument allowed Slater to tag in Rhyno, who gored Gallows for the next elimination. Cass’ big boot to Slater and Rhyno left the SmackDown champs prey for a Rocket Launcher, with Enzo elimination Rhyno, as we were left 2-1 to Raw.
A superkick from Jimmy Uso, then a Samoan splash from Jey got rid of Enzo and Cass, leaving Cesaro and Sheamus in there with the Usos. The clubbing forearms across the chest dazed Jey, before a Finlay roll led to… nothing. Jey ducked a Brogue Kick, but hit an enziguiri as the Usos’ double-team superkick took down Cesaro. Another Brogue kick almost won it, but Sheamus ended up taking Jimmy Uso up top for a super White Noise. A blind tag meant it couldn’t count, so Jey’s Samoan splash almost won it as Cesaro broke up the pin.
Sheamus finally tagged in Cesaro, whose springboard uppercut off the middle rope took down Jey, before a standing dropkick knocked Jimmy off the top turnbuckle. Cesaro knocked down Jey with a 619 (or perhaps a 41?), before a big cross body off the top earned a near-fall. A Giant Swing followed for Jey, before Jimmy superkicked Cesaro in the back of the knee as he went for a Sharpshooter.
That let Jey go for a Tequila Sunrise on the decked Cesaro as Sheamus had to recover from a tope… Cesaro worked himself free and back into the Sharpshooter, before Sheamus’ Brogue kick cut-off Jimmy’s attempted intervention as Jey was forced to tap. A fantastic match, with an even better final flourish. ****
A backstage segment followed as Mick Foley and Stephanie celebrated the tag team win, which led to Stephanie giving Sheamus and Cesaro a tag title shot.
WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Kalisto vs. Brian Kendrick (c)
So, if Kalisto wins, the entire division moves to SmackDown… and of course, we got a pre-match video package to ensure the ring crew had enough time to change the canvas and tape the ropes.
Kalisto started with a rana, before a tope con hilo knocked down Kendrick after he’d gone outside in search of shelter. A springboard crossbody earned Kalisto a near-fall, as did a springboard tornillo, but the tables quickly turned. Both men tried for their finishers, before they traded near-falls from roll-ups.
A tiltawhirl headscissors from Kalisto sent Kendrick into the corner, but the champion clung onto the bottom rope to prevent any further attack, before a schoolboy-like roll-up sent Kalisto’s head into the turnbuckles. Kendrick then wedged Kalisto between the ring and the steps, before he took a two-count back in the ring.
Kendrick grounded Kalisto with a cravat, even holding on as Kalisto tried to roll out, before eventually flipping free. Kalisto avoided the Captain’s Hook, but quickly got hung in the ropes as Kendrick used the top rope to effectively clothesline him. The pair traded kicks on the apron, before Kendrick was shoved into the ring post and sent to the floor courtesy of a Spanish Fly off the apron. A tope suicida saw Kalisto stay on top of Kendrick, as he tried to stay out of the ring, but Kalisto took too long in going for a moonsault of the top rope and ended up getting crotched.
That gave Kendrick an opening for a belly-to-back superplex, but Kalisto tried to switch it into a Salida del Sol off the top rope. That too got reversed as Kendrick took him down with a reverse headlock off the top rope, then into a Captain’s Hook – a hold that the champion held despite Kalisto’s rolling efforts. Eventually, Kalisto got the rope to break the hold, but Kendrick stayed on top of him.
Kalisto found a second wind and took down Kendrick with a rolling death valley driver, before a leg lariat and a short ‘rana looked to set up for the Salida del Sol… but Kendrick got his foot on the rope at the last possible second. Unfortunately, that’s where the match crashed to an end as Baron Corbin hit the ring to wipe out Kendrick for the DQ, before targeting Kalisto with the End of Days. Sigh. In spite of the good action, the crowd weren’t into it much – largely because of the usual complaints (“cruiserweights not established”, “they’ve replaced the women as the bathroom break”), and that finish underlines the whole self-fulfilling prophecy of the division. **¾
Who had “two months” on the bet for “when do the bigger guys” run in on the Cruiserweight matches? It’s like they couldn’t help themselves, even if Baron’s meant to be injured because he couldn’t walk a ring apron without falling.
We had a backstage segment next as Daniel Bryan ripped into Baron Corbin for costing SmackDown the Cruiserweight division. Baron was happy because it meant “there’ll be no more little pests”. Self-fulfilling prophecies, everyone! More video packages give the ring crew a chance to replace the canvas and remove the purple tape, and we’re into our final elimination match.
James Ellsworth got his own entrance before the next match. Let that sink in.
Survivor Series Elimination Match: SmackDown Live (Shane McMahon, Bray Wyatt, Randy Orton, AJ Styles & Dean Ambrose) vs. Raw (Braun Strowman, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Chris Jericho & Kevin Owens)
Beating 2001’s Invasion-ending match to take the title of longest-ever Survivor Series match, at a shade under 53 minutes, this match was long. So we’ll just cover the highlights from a real slog of a match.
Styles and Owens started us off with a parade of attempted signature moves, including Pele kicks, package piledrivers, Styles Clashes and pop-up powerbombs – none of which were hit – as both sides quickly cycled through their rosters. Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins did the same, with much less reaction for their teased finishers, before Shane McMahon came in and dropped Jericho with a series of hiptosses. Jericho hit back with a dropkick that landed square in Shane’s face, before the next sequence saw Ambrose hit a ‘rana to avoid a pop-up powerbomb from Kevin Owens.
The ring filled up from there and we got another West Side Story square-off. Strowman caught a crossbody from Ambrose and walked around ringside with him until Styles broke it up, before a cannonball senton off the top rope saw Owens knock down everyone. Styles and Ambrose saved Shane McMahon from a Strowman beatdown, before Shane returned with a Cactus Jack-esque clothesline to take the big man out.
Ambrose and Styles eventually came to blows, which led to our first elimination as a running powerslam from Strowman elimination Ambrose. Shane then came in to pepper Strowman with punches, but that didn’t last as the former Wyatt Family member overwhelmed Shane, before tossing AJ out of the ring. Speaking of Wyatts, Bray came in to “save” Randy Orton from a corner charge from Braun, but Strowman finally turned on his former leader.
A shotgun dropkick knocked Bray to the outside, before Braun cleared the German announce table… and took an RKO onto the table which barely budged. The English announce table was next, as Braun was set up on it as Shane McMahon climbed up for an elbow drop through the table… and thankfully Shane met his target as the table gave way.
Shane was rolled back into the ring by AJ, but Strowman was counted out as he couldn’t make it back in… thanks to James Ellsworth clinging onto Braun’s leg from under the ring. Ellsworth hung around the ring, and made a beeline to the back… but he tripped and was promptly destroyed on the stage, before being thrown through some conveniently-placed tables by the side.
After the elimination of Strowman, McMahon became a sacrificial lamb for a while, before almost stealing a pin on Jericho with an inside cradle. Codebreakers for Shane and Orton followed, which seemed to give Jericho a bloody nose. A big splash off the top onto Shane came up empty for Jericho, who then took a suplex onto a knee from Styles for a near-fall. Styles countered a Walls of Jericho with the Calf Crusher, before Jericho got out and was rolled up for another near-fall by the WWE champion. Styles went for a Styles Clash, but was interrupted by Kevin Owens who hit AJ with the List of Jericho… then a pop-up powerbomb, earning him a disqualification. Eh? Surely that’d have Jericho DQ’d?
As Chris Jericho scrambled to recompile his list, Randy Orton tagged in and hit an RKO (outta nowhere) to eliminate Y2J. That left Raw with just Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns, with the former finding himself isolated with Bray Wyatt squashing him with a splash in the corner for a near-fall. Tags brought in AJ and Reigns, and of course Roman got booed…
All of the SmackDown team, save McMahon, took Samoan drops, before a Niagra Driver from Reigns saw him get a near-fall over Styles. After an enziguiri countered a Superman punch, Shane McMahon tagged in and went to work on Reigns with those hideous punches of his, before landing a floatover DDT.
Shane sidestepped a spear and shoved Reigns into the ringpost, which acted as a set-up for the most ungodly spear of all times. Shane looked to get his Coast-to-Coast dropkick, but was met in mid-air by a rising spear, smashing Shane to pieces. The referee held up the count as McMahon’s glassy eyes looked at the hard camera, before Shane was eliminated due to injury.
Once Shane was carried to the back, the match resumed, with the SmackDown trio cycling through tags, targeting Reigns, we got AJ and Rollins back together, with Seth landing a Blockbuster neckbreaker on the WWE champion. A springboard kneedrop followed as Rollins took out Wyatt with a tope, before the crowd piped up with chants of “Roman Sleeping” and “Wake Up Roman”.
Rollins got a near-fall after a superplex that rolled into a Falcon arrow, before getting a right hand as he looked to fly into Orton on the outside. Reigns saved Rollins from a DDT off the apron, before the former Shield buddies reunited to try and put Orton through the Spanish announce table. Styles rushed in to make a save, but Dean Ambrose came from the back and lit into Styles, before security tried to cart Ambrose away.
Instead, Rollins and Reigns made the save to beat down the security team, and the crowd came unglued for a pseudo-Shield reunion as AJ took the powerbomb through the Spanish announce table. Rollins then picked apart the pieces by rolling Styles into the ring and claiming the elementary elimination.
That left the Wyatts against the former Shield, and the SmackDown team got a helping hand as Luke Harper emerged to cause a distraction. Of course, Harper wasn’t in the match, so he got attacked as Wyatt and Orton went after Reigns and Rollins, but Rollins turned the tables with a Slingblade on Wyatt, then a tope con hilo to Harper. Rollins went up for a frog splash on Wyatt, but ended up leaping into an RKO as Wyatt picked up the elimination.
We’re down to Reigns vs. Orton and Wyatt, and Roman went straight after Orton with a superman punch as he tried to single-out Wyatt outside the ring. Super Roman ducked several bullets and speared Harper on the outside, before countering a Sister Abigail and hitting a Superman punch. You know what’s next… but Orton took the spear bullet as he shoved Wyatt out of the way, allowing Bray to hit the Sister Abigail and take the win for the blue brand.
As a match, this was a marathon. Sure, there were dead spots, and a lot of stories crammed into it – AJ and Ambrose, the revival of the Wyatts, Shane McMahon killing himself, another Shield tease. I can see why some people hated this match, and personally, I thought it didn’t need to go as long as it did. But as a match, it sure as hell didn’t stink the place out, nor did it lose the crowd, so I can’t bury this too badly. ***¾
For the main event, we were left with Michael Cole, Byron Saxton and Corey Graves – presumably this is being treated as a Raw match?
Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg
Well, the video package for this lasted much, much longer than the match itself. The video packages: about four minutes. The match? 1:25.
Goldberg got his WCW entrance, emerging from his locker room, flanked by security. Eye-dazzling pyro shower, pyro snort, and a march to the ring. It was like 20 years ago all over again.
Once the bell rang, Lesnar double-legged Goldberg into the corner, but got shoved down. Lesnar looked shocked, then smiled, before standing up into a spear. A second spear followed, before Brock fought to his feet and into the path of a Jackhammer. One. Two. Three. Your sub-90 second main event in one paragraph, folks. (Not Rating)
As a surprise, it certainly worked. Goldberg taking the win was perhaps the second-but-last result people expected… with “a quick win” being the last. Of course, since then, its been revealed that Goldberg’s signed a longer-term deal and is going to be in next year’s Royal Rumble, which makes a little more sense. But… Brock Lesnar taking the streak. Single-handedly beating the Wyatts. Bloodying Randy Orton at SummerSlam. Was that REALLY leading up to this? A match which will lead some to again accuse WWE of putting part-timers over guys who stick around?
Anyway, the main event aside, Survivor Series was a good show. Yes, it fell to the usual WWE tropes of being too long, and having elimination matches end with moves that wouldn’t usually get two counts, but we knew what we were in for. It set up a few storylines, planted seeds for more, and left us all talking by the time the show came to a close.
In the end, isn’t that what wrestling is about? Expecting the unexpected?