By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
ProWrestling.net Live returns today at 3CT/4ET. Jason Powell and Will Pruett will be taking your calls coming out of WWE Survivor Series and NXT Takeover: WarGames at PWAudio.net. If you can’t call into the show, you are welcome to submit questions in advance via firstname.lastname@example.org.
WWE Survivor Series Hits
WWE Universal Champion Brock Lesnar vs. WWE Champion Daniel Bryan: An excellent match. Despite the Bryan heel turn on the go-home show, I assume the body of the match was along the lines of what Bryan always envisioned having with Lesnar. It’s a shame that Vince McMahon opted to rush his way into this match and do the abrupt Bryan heel turn. Under different circumstances, Bryan vs. Lesnar would be the ultimate David vs. Goliath match. With Bryan playing a heel role, it seemed like fans were unsure how they were supposed to react to him early on, which damaged what should have been a great atmosphere from bell to tell. Ultimately, both wrestlers worked hard and this turned out to be a really strong main event even if it wasn’t everything it could have been.
Ronda Rousey vs. Charlotte Flair in a non-title match: Another gem. Rousey and Charlotte had a good, physical battle. If they had a clean finish it would have been tough for me to choose between this match and the main event for best of the night honors. WWE is now 0-2 in their attempts to turn female wrestlers heel in the moment. And while some will argue that fans simply like heels and heel turns, there is more at play here. When Becky Lynch turned on Charlotte, fans sided with Lynch because she was their favorite and everyone other than Vince McMahon knew it. And with Charlotte turning on Rousey, fans sided with Charlotte in a rejection of Rousey. I don’t know if it’s the millennial man promo rubbing younger fans the wrong way, her recent war of words with the mega popular Lynch, the perception that she’s over-pushed, or the over the top eye makeup (okay, probably not that last one), but this crowd was anti-Rousey and they relished seeing Charlotte beat the hell out of her with a kendo stick. Charlotte will be fine. All it takes is her heeling on Lynch in a segment and fans will boo her. And perhaps they can use Nia Jax and/or Stephanie McMahon to get Rousey cheered, but it’s a bit risky to try again tonight in front of the Los Angeles crowd.
Buddy Murphy vs. Mustafa Ali for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Murphy and Ali had a very good match that would have fit in nicely on the Takeover special on Saturday. In fact, most of the cruiserweight title matches they’ve had on pay-per-view have been good (aside from that stretch where last night’s publicity seeking bad rapper was holding the cruiserweight championship). But these quality matches haven’t been enough to make up for the damage that Vince McMahon did while he was booking the brand. If WWE isn’t going to follow up by reintroducing cruiserweight matches to the main roster shows or do something else to stir up interest in 205 Live, then I vote for pulling the plug on the show, moving most of the cruiserweights to NXT, and expanding the weekly NXT television series to 90 minutes. There are some very talented cruiserweights who would thrive if they were featured on the hotter brand.
Drew McIntyre, Dolph Ziggler, Braun Strowman, Bobby Lashley, Finn Balor vs. The Miz, Shane McMahon, Rey Mysterio, Samoa Joe, Jeff Hardy in an elimination match: My enjoyment of this match and any other match on this show has nothing to do with the lousy Raw vs. Smackdown theme. It was simply a quality elimination match with plenty of big moments that kept the live crowd engaged. Samoa Joe being eliminated just 35 seconds into the match left me hopeful that it was done to set up a babyface turn. Perhaps a bitter Shane McMahon takes out his frustrations over Smackdown being swept on Joe. After all, Smackdown definitely has a need for babyfaces, particularly if Shane is going to be a heel authority figure. On the Raw side, they did a nice job of making Strowman look strong while also protecting McIntyre and Lashley, and they also set the stage for Strowman going after Baron Corbin tonight on Raw.
Intercontinental Champion Seth Rollins vs. U.S. Champion Shinsuke Nakamura: A Hit for the match quality. I’m a little more forgiving of the outcome coming out of the show given that they were telling the story of Raw sweeping Smackdown. Even so, Nakamura looks really weak for losing to a guy who made it clear going in that he was too distracted by his feud with Dean Ambrose to think about this match until the bell rang.
WWE Survivor Series Misses
Raw sweeps Smackdown: I assume this is all about Shane McMahon. Is it really worth it? My initial thought is no, but we’ll reassess coming out of Smackdown. I’m not getting my hopes up, but I would be thrilled if this is how the silly Raw vs. Smackdown theme for Survivor Series ends. I’ve had my fill of a rivalry that makes the wrestlers look like pawns in the McMahon siblings’ game over bragging rights, wrestlers wearing bad t-shirts during their matches, and an all around lousy concept that the vast majority of fans reject in terms of cheering for one brand over the other. One can only hope that Strowman will be scripted to interrupt Stephanie McMahon’s gloating promo quickly tonight.
Nia Jax, Tamina, Mickie James, Sasha Banks, Bayley vs. Asuka, Carmella, Naomi, Sonya Deville, Mandy Rose in a Survivor Series elimination match: The thing I enjoyed most about the match was that Jax was cast as the strong heel and the sole survivor. WWE is doing a great job of turning a negative into a positive by playing into the backlash against Jax over the punch that knocked Becky Lynch off this show. The actual match just didn’t do much for me, mostly because nearly everyone involved has been underutilized and spinning their wheels in parity booking programs away from the title belts on their respective brands.
Chad Gable, Bobby Roode, The Ascension, Lucha House Party, The Revival, and B-Team vs. The Usos, New Day, The Colons, Sanity, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson in an elimination match: It wasn’t bad once they got through the early eliminations and had a small number of teams remaining. But there was no suspense in terms of who was going to win once it came down to the Usos and the Revival because Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder have been completely wasted on the main roster. The biggest issue with this match is that they told us on the main show that it didn’t matter by saying the result didn’t count in the overall Raw vs. Smackdown series. As if sitting through a two-hour Kickoff Show isn’t painful enough, now they told viewers that the only match on the show didn’t even matter.
Raw Tag Champions AOP vs. Smackdown Tag Champions Sheamus and Cesaro: Drake Maverick pissed himself. Need I say more?
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