WWE Survivor Series
November 18 2018
We’re in Los Angeles, California. This show comes off the back of another hugely successful NXT TakeOver show; War Games II. Highlighted by Aleister Black vs. Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa vs. Velveteen Dream. Both exceptional matches I had at ****1/2. Can the main roster live up to that? We shall see.
SmackDown (Naomi, Carmella, Mandy Rose, Sonya Deville & Asuka) vs. RAW (Mickie James, Tamina, Nia Jax, Sasha Banks & Bayley)
R-Truth is such an upgrade for Carmella’s male friend. Ellsworth now entirely in the bin. Naomi has been upgraded to team captain with Charlotte moved into the Rousey match. Rose replaced Charlotte. Nia Jax gets deafening heat for stiffing Becky Lynch last week. The RAW team got switched up on the pre-show with fears over the quality of this bout. Naomi, team skipper, is first out in a matter of moments before Carmella rolls up Tamina to get rid of her. DANCE BREAK!
I’m sure Nia is upset about it but she gets a lot of heat here. Women’s wrestling has come a long way in the past couple of years and it shows here where there are diverse and unique characters everywhere. The veteran Mickie doesn’t a good job of holding together the format until Sonya knees her in the face for the elimination. James is so underrated. There’s a reason they brought her back. Speaking of which; they specifically brought her back to be a challenge for Asuka and here’s Cole calling Asuka vs. Mickie a potential dream match. It happened already! Bayley to belly gets rid of Carmella. She did a fine job in there. Got her spots in and didn’t look bad in losing.
Mandy is ok in there. She’s eliminated by Sasha’s Banks Statement. I can see why she was initially overlooked but she can step up. The crowd definitely go a bit quiet while Bayley and Sonya are building something and all it takes is Nia breaking up a pin to get them back in. Asuka gets a huge pop for smacking her into the post. Bayley and Sonya get counted out, which leaves them both strong. “You don’t often see that” chimes in Cole. Yeah, you do! All the fucking time mate. What planet are you on? Asuka vs. Sasha has a special energy. Nia costs Sasha the match by pushing her right into the Asukalock. Well, Sasha kinda deserves it. Nia vs. Asuka for the win then and Nia takes it with a bunch of legdrops and a Samoan Drop. It’s the right choice. Not only does it give Sasha a hot feud with Nia but Nia was the most over person in the match.
Final Rating: ***
Seth Rollins vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
The IC Champion vs. the US Champion in a bit of a dream match. Both men highly touted as outstanding in ring performers who’ve rarely come into contact with each other due to Rollins being on RAW and Nakamura being on SD. It’s one of those ‘Dream Survivor’ matches that actually feels important. My favourite thing about Seth Rollins is when everyone screams “BURN IT DOWWWWN” during his entrance. It’s pretty neat.
I also dig his half and half RAW/merch shirt. To represent SmackDown Nakamura has blue gear.
Both guys have a lot of personality and also in-ring skill so it’s an intriguing contest from the get go. What was a dream match quickly descends into the midcard mire. Nakamura doesn’t have his work boots on and the match plods along in second gear. Time is running out on Nakamura’s WWE run for him to actually get excited about an opponent. He’s not had a blow away match since Sami Zayn on day one. Rollins forces the pace and when he does the match goes into a higher gear. Nakamura sliding into a low superkick is a fantastic visual. The match needed more of that. Inventiveness and excitement. It does pick up but it spends a long time in crushing mediocrity. When they get into the Big Spot/kickout sequence the crowd finally gets invested and it is quite enjoyable by that point. Nakamura misses a Kinshasa and Rollins Curb Stomps him for the pin. Like I say, this eventually got good but the first two thirds of the match was a lot of nothing and I can’t get past that. Great finish though.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Backstage Braun Strowman gives everyone a pep talk. Basically he tells everyone to stop being shit or they’ll “get these hands”. When Baron Corbin gets upset about it Braun throws Lio Rush at him. R-Truth comes in to encourage everyone to get on the same team. “He’s not even on RAW” – Big Banter Corbs is thrown by R-Trizzle.
The Bar vs. Authors of Pain
I see RAW has finally gotten around to putting the belts on AOP. Long overdue. They should have been killers from day one. It’s not like RAW has a tag division to speak of. I don’t get why they’ve put Drake Maverick with them. Is the feeling that they need a talker? If so, why Drake? He’s the 205 GM. It’s weird that he has two jobs. Bar have Big Show in their corner so that’s a definite advantage. The trouble with this match is that AOP aren’t as good as the Bar and find themselves out-done quite easily.
The crowd is distracted at this point as Enzo Amore is in the crowd being forcibly removed, and not mentioned at all. The crowd embarks on a duelling chant of “we want Enzo/no we don’t”. I’m in the “no we don’t” corner. Enzo Amore was a shit wrestler who never cared enough to learn to improve. He would have made a great manager for someone but he fucked that when he didn’t tell WWE about rape allegations and is frankly an enormous piece of shit. So fuck him, I’m glad he’s gone.
The match relies heavily on Drake Maverick’s personality on the floor until Big Show flattens him. Spud mate, you brought this on yourself. Then he pisses himself and AOP wipe out Sheamus. Drake wins via urine! This was fucking stupid and everything before the dumb part was pretty dull. Hard pass.
Final Rating: *1/4
Video Control takes us backstage where The Miz fires up Team SmackDown, or rather gets Shane to do it while shouting obnoxiously behind him. Miz promises the lads a signed copy of his new Marine 6 DVD if they win. The very mention of Becky Lynch gets one of the biggest pops of the night.
WWE Cruiserweight Championship
Buddy Murphy (c) vs. Mustafa Ali
Buddy Murphy has been an eye-opener on 205 Live. I never rated him on NXT but he’s had a string of outstanding matches on 205 and is one of the leading talents on an exciting brand. All the Murphy/Ali/Cedric matches have been super. Any combination, it doesn’t matter. Ali is a daredevil and some of the bumps he takes in this match scare the shit out of me. The back bump off the top rope into the rail is insane. I’m also really pleased this leads directly to Murphy working the back. Both guys do wacky high speed dives but Ali’s bumps are something else. Ali has an issue with obvious thigh slaps, which is something I wish they’d coach. The sounds are great and everything but they shouldn’t be blindingly obvious. At least try to hide them. Ali keeps doing them on the leg he’s kicking with so he’s drawing attention to it. By comparison his bumps look absolutely sick. Innovative and unexpected. I react every time. Murphy’s Law puts Ali away. This felt state-of-the-art and Ali is a madman for taking the bumps he takes. Great match again from 205 Live. If you’re not watching it you’re missing the best matches on the main roster this year.
Final Rating: ****
Video Control gives us clips of Lars Sullivan. Oh, is he coming up? He’s been ready for a while. He would have been ready years ago if he’d not gotten injured.
RAW (Braun Strowman, Bobby Lashley, Drew McIntyre, Dolph Ziggler & Finn Balor) vs. SmackDown (Samoa Joe, The Miz, Jeff Hardy, Rey Mysterio & Shane McMahon)
RAW has a clear cut size advantage but RAW is also up 3-0 at this point so SmackDown needs to come through. Joe is SD’s monster but he’d be the fourth biggest guy on Team RAW and the Claymore puts him out very quickly. Crowd hate that. Like ‘is Nia Jax out here’ levels of hate. Shane McMahon is right there! Just eliminate him quickly for fuck’s sake. Instead he gets to play superman against Ziggles. Luckily I don’t care about Ziggler but it’s Shane McMahon, for fuck’s sake. He’s utterly worthless. If you consider him a wrestler he’s the worst wrestler on the roster by a country mile. SD can only win here if Braun and Drew fight each other, which is exactly what happens. This leads directly to Braun getting wiped out by all of the blue team and being put through a table by Shane. However he’s not legal so there’s no elimination. Do I hate the match at this point? Yes.
Balor helps the match to recover by tagging himself in and doing some nice stuff with Miz and Rey. Then they have Rey eliminate him. Urgh. Just get rid of the most interesting guys first, why don’t you? The SD nostalgia acts give it a decent go. Rey and Hardy trying to take it back to ten years ago when they were stars. Old man Shane comes staggering back into the ring to give Ziggler the Coast to Coast and eliminate him. So Shane got back in the ring before Braun? I’d be laughing but it’s so sad. They really have no idea what they’re doing. Anyway Braun gets back in. Powerslam on Jeff. He’s gone. Powerslam on Rey. He’s gone.
Powerslam on Miz. He’s gone. Oh no, they’re doing the Superman Shane shit AGAIN. What is fucking wrong with this company? Powerslam on Shane. He’s gone. As it looked on paper all the big lads won. This was a pile of shit.
Final Rating: *
Ronda Rousey vs. Charlotte Flair
The Becky Lynch stuff from last week was incredible. It merits a full replay here reminding us how we got to this instead of Lynch/Rousey. That image of a bloodied Lynch standing tall and yelling “this is my show now” is already iconic.
Ironically this was probably the match they were going to do at Mania, so we’ve got this one early and the popularity of Becky Lynch has transformed plans for next year. Ronda has bizarre eye makeup again. I have no idea why they keep doing this to her. She looks like a badass anyway, she doesn’t need that makeup.
The match is an intriguing proposition with Charlotte using her somewhat ungainly size to battle the MMA influenced holds of Rousey. It’s genuinely interesting to see them approach the match with purpose. While Charlotte may not be the most graceful of pro wrestlers she does know the way to make a match feel important. Again blood comes into play with Rousey catching an errant elbow and bleeding from the mouth. Accidental blood can be a fortunate bonus as blood does add to matches but WWE doesn’t go in for blading.
There’s a lot of neat visuals here with Ronda trying to put on holds and the size and style differences are brought to the forefront. They make the false finishes look cool too. Especially when Ronda walks right into a spear. What a bump that is from a rookie year Rousey! She’s come along at an incredible rate this year but the Bella match felt like a step back. This puts Ronda right back on course. She steps up and matches Flair and, if I’m totally honest, looks better than the best WWE has to offer. The match feels dynamic and driven and I’m totally into it. Rousey has a different approach to her matches than anyone else. It’s based on her MMA background and it usually makes sense. She avoids a lot of silly wrestling pitfalls. Her counters are sick too. The finish comes out of nowhere with Flair nailing Rousey with a Singapore cane on the outside for the DQ. This match was excellent until the non-finish but it gives them room to breath on a second match without a definitive finish. Rousey’s best singles match…so far. Post match Charlotte goes nuts and comes after Rousey with a chair, decks a bunch of refs and Pillman’s Rousey’s neck! Holy shit! This was so fucking great. Rousey took a beating for the love of pro wrestling here. Bleeding from the mouth and ear afterwards, covered in welts from those kendo stick shots. Absolutely savage. The camera pans around her on the way out and the damage is like something out of a death match. Ronda Rousey, ladies and gentlemen, saving the business.
Final Rating: ****1/2
Daniel Bryan vs. Brock Lesnar
This is Bryan’s dream match. The one he always wanted. He gets a mixed response and has refused to explain his actions on SmackDown last week. Lesnar might be generally bad now but he had a cracking match with AJ Styles on the same show last year so it is doable.
Bryan’s gamesmanship here is amazing. It looks like he’s goofing around. Hitting a dropkick to the knee and then doing a few laps of the ring for his amusement. Cole’s suggestion that Lesnar won’t get tired is utterly hilarious considering some of his performances over the past year where he’s been blown up and sucking down air. Dan’s provocation gets him destroyed. It’s hard to watch. Literally the first suplex busts open Bryan’s elbow just from the impact.
The first third of this match is tedious as hell. It’s Brock doing the usual. Then they do a dumb as fuck ref bump to set up Bryan hitting a low blow. Why are ref bumps in this company so spectacularly bad? Why would Mike Chioda, who’s refereed a lot of Lesnar matches be standing in the way of an F5? It’s fucking stupid.
Luckily this leads to Bryan’s comeback, which is by some considerable distance, the best part of the match. Desperation strikes and dynamic high spots in an attempt to put Brock down for three. It magically turns into a good match because of Bryan’s tactics, which makes the first third all the more baffling. There’s a great spot where Bryan is in the F5 position but Lesnar’s knee, assaulted beforehand, gives out allowing Bryan to fall into the Yes Lock.
Brock struggles for a while in there but then powers out and hits the F5 for the win. This was half of a good match but honestly the decision in the early going baffle me. I get them trying to do a ‘Lesnar match’ only to have it turn into something else but they did that for too long.
Final Rating: ***3/4
Rough night for SmackDown!
There were obviously some issues tonight. The traditional Survivor matches had problems, mainly Shane McMahon based, but on the whole I enjoyed myself. The Flair/Rousey segment blew me away. I thought it was a great match with the added drama of the after the match antics only adding to it. The cruiser match was great and once it actually got going the main event was a reminder of how useful Lesnar can be. On the whole it’s a thumbs up and I had a nice time.