By Jason Powell
WWE Survivor Series Hits
Kevin Owens, Chris Jericho, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, and Braun Strowman vs. AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose, Bray Wyatt, Randy Orton, and Shane McMahon: One of the key flaws of the Survivor Series formula is that fans had no reason to care whether Team Raw or Team Smackdown came out on top. And while they never even tried to address this in the three elimination matches, this match managed to overcome that problem thanks to the hard work of the wrestlers. I was never sure who we were supposed to cheer for, yet it was easy to get caught up in the action and the various storylines at play. Well, except for Shane McMahon, who was downright awful in this match. The big spot with Shane and Reigns was incredible, but it was painful to watch the heels sell for Shane, and don’t even get me started on those arm drags. As someone who was excited to see Shane vs. Undertaker, the thrill is gone as far as seeing him in marquee matches. I’m still not sold on Randy Orton as a member of the Wyatt Family. The finish seemed designed to drive home that he’s really with the group, but it’s just not compelling. If nothing else, at least they didn’t have Reigns run the table at the end in yet another display of Vince McMahon stubbornness. The Shield performing their powerbomb was great, but will it come back to haunt Ambrose? After all, Undertaker made it clear that there would be hell to pay if Team Smackdown lost. They may have come out on top, but Ambrose put them at risk of losing, while the three heels seemed to go all out for the blue brand. Does Taker go after Ambrose or is this all just forgotten? Team Raw took the loss in this match. However, the Raw team kept the cruiserweights and won the other two elimination matches. Will Stephanie deliver the “you’re fired” line (to Mick Foley?) or will this also be forgotten?
The Miz vs. Sami Zayn for the Intercontinental Championship: A good match with the fans getting up for the injured babyface getting his biggest main roster win to date only to have the heels cheat him out of it. Maryse ringing the bell to save Miz was true to those heel characters. WWE made the right call in not moving another secondary championship to Raw, and they came up with a finish that put heat on the heels and protected the babyface challenger. Regardless of whether you like the way the IC and Cruiserweight Championship matches played out, WWE deserves credit for coming up with believable stipulations that made both matches more intriguing.
WWE Survivor Series Misses
Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar: I am not opposed to the idea of a short main event. In fact, I wish WWE would book more quick and decisive finishes to establish a feeling that every second counts as opposed to the vibe that very little matters until each wrestler has kicked out of the other wrestler’s finisher once. The problem with the decision to have Goldberg destroy Lesnar in 90 seconds is that it’s short-term booking. It gives the company a likely WrestleMania match, and it should even be an appealing one to the masses. But what do you get beyond that from a guy who turns 50 next month? This is a short term fix that fails to mask the issue of the full-time wrestlers not being cast as being as the true stars. WWE built up major equity in Lesnar by having him end Undertaker’s streak and dominate countless big names. They chose to cash it in on another Monday Night War releic who is unlikely to be around for the long haul. I’d be singing a different tune if a wrestler such as Samoa Joe or Shinsuke Nakamura had toppled Lesnar. No, not because they are internet darlings, but because they could be long term stars who would be around for more than just a match or two. Lesnar isn’t destroyed because of this. He can and will be rebuilt, but that will take time, and thus pushes back any chance they had of using him to push someone to the top. The finish played well in Toronto and there are some fans who truly enjoyed it. It’s a nice finish that sets the stage for a rematch or two, but this should have gone to someone who could pay long term dividends.
Charlotte, Sasha Banks, Bayley, Alicia Fox, and Nia Jax vs. Natalya, Becky Lynch, Naomi, Alexa Bliss, and Carmella: A disappointing match that included Alexa Bliss and Becky Lynch performing the sloppiest double DDT in the history of pro wrestling. No one will be topping that one for a while, but one spot didn’t ruin the match for me. The in-ring product left a lot to be desired, but the booking was also flawed. Nia Jax entered as a monster and left as just another woman when she tapped to Lynch’s finisher. Smackdown Women’s Champion Lynch lost clean to Bayley to lose the match. If they weren’t going to protect Lynch, then they should have given her a bigger moment than forcing Jax to tap, as it really defined Jax down more than it made Lynch look good. The person most protected in all of this was Nikki Bella, who didn’t have to be on the losing team. I’m only mildly intrigued to find out whether Carmella or Natalya were responsible for the attack that left her lying backstage. It would be great if we found out that Mickie James attacked Nikki, but I’m not getting my hopes up.
New Day, Enzo Amore & Big Cass, Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows, Sheamus & Cesaro, The Shining Stars vs. Heath Slater & Rhyno, American Alpha, The Usos, The Hype Bros, and Tyler Breeze & Fandango: This should have been a showcase match for Chad Gable and Jason Jordan. Triple H stated in the past that he wants the wrestlers who are called up to the main roster to have a six month creative plan. Apparently, American Alpha’s plan consisted of spinning their wheels for the first four months of their run on Smackdown. The match lacked the small sense of importance that the other two elimination matches had. Nothing interesting happened on the Smackdown side, and the Raw story was Sheamus and Cesaro earning another tag title shot.
Brian Kendrick vs. Kalisto for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship: The match was a Hit from a match quality standpoint. Kendrick and Kalisto worked hard and had arguably the best singles match we’ve seen from the cruiserweights on the main roster thus far. Unfortunately, it still wasn’t enough to make the live crowd care. The finish with Baron Corbin interfering was unexpected, yet was still flat and disappointing. Perhaps we should have seen it coming since Smackdown continues to drag out most of the feuds they started post draft or shortly thereafter. The stipulation of the cruiserweights moving to Smackdown provided hope that the Raw formula of champion and challenger in one segment, and pointless six-man tag match in another was going to end. It’s great that the cruiserweights are getting their own show and I’m sure the booking for 205 Live will be better (it can’t be worse), but the cruiserweights really need to be showcased well on the main shows in order to get the more casual WWE viewer to even give 205 Live a chance.
Rich Swann, Noam Dar, and TJ Perkins vs. Drew Gulak, Anthony Nese, and Ariya Daivari: The heel trio is going to keep wrestling three babyfaces until they find the right combination of guys they can actually beat. WWE is making it tough for everyone by making Kendrick the only meaningful heel in the division. These three heels have no heat, and it’s tough for the babyfaces to get over when they just keep beating the same three guys.
Kane vs. Luke Harper: The broadcast team spent the whole match raving about how impressive Harper is. And then he lost another match. Sadly, Harper is still just a sidekick. It’s a shame that Vince McMahon doesn’t see the same thing that the awestruck JBL seems to see in the big man.