WWE Survivor Series Review: You Know What It Is (Black and Yellow, Black and Yellow)

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WWE’s Survivor Series event took place Sunday night at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois, the third event in a four-night weekend for WWE. The show was main-evented by a triple threat match featuring the top women from RAW, SmackDown and NXT in Becky Lynch, Bayley and Shayna Baszler. Elsewhere, we saw the culmination of a months-long feud with Brock Lesnar and Rey Mysterio fighting for the WWE Championship in a no holds barred match and weeks of invasions and interferences among shows culminated in multi-brand showdowns between the men and the women of RAW, SmackDown and NXT.

Women’s Survivor Series Elimination Match:

The match began with Sarah Logan, Lacey Evans and Toni Storm leading off for their respective brands. Storm hit a huge double German suplex on both Logan and Nikki Cross (who tagged in after Evans was thrown over the top rope). Dana Brooke hit a very nice looking top-rope Senton bomb on Io Shirai and Kairi Sane. One thing I wanted to note was this match was a little slow and a little wonky in the beginning. Something wasn’t clicking and the early parts of this match suffered because of it. That being said, I did enjoy the carousel of moves executed by woman-after-woman ending with a Backstabber by Sasha Banks. Once the dust had cleared, it appeared that Shirai and Candice LeRae had been “injured” off-camera and had to be removed from the match, creating a lull in the action. Shout-out to Bianca Belair for hitting a picture-perfect 450 splash on Logan. I really enjoyed the dissension in the ranks between Charlotte and Asuka, playing off of their recent matches on RAW. I hope that Asuka misting Charlotte (leading to the latter’s elimination by Evans) serves as the impetus to an intriguing blood feud on TV. Although NXT was positioned at a disadvantage after the removal of LeRae and Shirai, Rhea Ripley was able to help steer her team to victory to the joy of the Rosemont crowd. WWE may have a new star on their hands if they play their cards right. A fine match in the end, although there were a few acting (Natalya not even emoting over the fact that two of her team members are fighting in Asuka and Charlotte) and strategic (Sasha going after Sane while Sane was trying to pin Storm) decisions that made me scratch my head.

Winner: Team NXT     Time: 28:00     Rating: 2.5 Stars

AJ Styles vs. Roderick Strong vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

This is the match I was looking forward to the most on this show, purely because of the laundry lists of great matches and moments all three of these men have created in WWE and beyond. Strong back-breaker-ed his way through both men, Nakamura dished out a number of stiff kicks and Styles utilized a sleeper hold early on to try to knock out Strong. I’ll never get tired of seeing the running forearms spot Strong did here to AJ. This is a little nit-picky on my part, but I wish Strong would have sold the injuries and sores he earned in War Games the night before a little bit more in this match. I mean, the guy got chokeslammed by Dominik Dijakovic through a table less than 24 hours before. On another note, I didn’t feel like Nakamura was that involved in this match. It definitely felt like Styles and Strong held the ring for a majority of the match with Nakamura just popping in momentarily to throw a kick or two or try for a quick pin. In the end, we got the tried-and-true heel classic of AJ hitting a huge Phenomenal Forearm on Nakamura but getting evicted from the ring by Strong who would reap the rewards and take the “W” for NXT. 

Winner: Roderick Strong        Time: 16:45     Rating: 3 Stars

Adam Cole (C) vs. Pete Dunne

Off the bat, I loved how both Cole and Dunne were taped up from their matches the night before (featuring Cole nursing “bruised ribs” and Dunne handling an “injured knee”). Right from the start, Dunne targeted Cole’s fingers and arms for deliberate and specific joint manipulation, bending them in unorthodox directions and stomping them into the mat and ring steps. Cole made sure to return the favor and kicked out Dunne’s injured knee when the opportunity presented itself. A big X-Plex by Dunne continued to focus on Cole’s ribs. At this point, the Rosemont crowd started getting more invested in this match and woke up after an on-target moonsault by Dunne on the outside. Last Shot, two count. Bitter End, two count. Back-and-forth, both men went before a Panama Sunrise on the ring apron and a final Last Shot back in the ring was enough to seal the win for Cole, giving the Undisputed Era a 2-1 record on the night. Not too shabby considering they barely survived War Games the night before.

Winner: Adam Cole    Time: 14:10     Rating: 3.5 Stars

The Fiend (C) vs. Daniel Bryan 

How do you attack a “creature” (to borrow a line from Michael Cole) like the Fiend? If you’re Daniel Bryan, you run right out of the box with a running dropkick to knock the Universal Champion in the corner. One running dropkick by Bryan almost begat another until a clothesline by the Fiend halted Bryan’s early momentum. A big headbutt knocked Bryan out of the ring and allowed the Fiend to start enacting some destruction in the form of a running Senton and throwing Bryan into the ring post head first. I got a kick out of the Fiend sticking his tongue out through his mask while he was toying with Bryan back in the ring. Bryan’s next best shot at momentum came with the Fiend running over the steel ring steps, allowing Bryan to hit a running knee off the ring apron and flying off the top rope to the outside on the alter ego of Bray Wyatt. And then you had one of my favorite sequences in this match, where Bryan channeled his former People’s Champion ego and brought back some Yes! kicks, which only resulted in the Fiend popping right back up after each attempt. I missed seeing the crowd chanting “Yes!” alongside Bryan, something we haven’t seen in over a year, so I’m glad we got to see it here. Even though the crowd firmly backed Bryan after a close near-fall following a Running Knee, a second attempt caught Bryan smack-dab in the middle of a Mandible Claw, incapacitating Bryan to give the Fiend a three-count victory. Bryan gave a great fight, but the Fiend reigns supreme, as I predict he will for quite some time on SmackDown. 

Winner: The Fiend      Time: 10:10     Rating: 3.5 Stars

Men’s Survivor Series Elimination Match

I’m sure there are plenty of wrecking crews in the area that wouldn’t mind using a Braun Strowman dropkick to knock down a wall like he did to Tommaso Ciampa and Seth Rollins. Sunday night proved the WWE Universe loves Walter and they especially loved the chop-fest he put on with Drew McIntyre. WWE: Take notes for a potential cross-over match down the line between these two. Walter was eliminated shortly after by a Claymore kick, much to the chagrin of the Rosemont crowd. Shout-out to Ricochet for rocking a Batman Beyond-inspired bodysuit and nailing a cool looking backflip-turned-kick on Ciampa and Shorty G (although I still despise that name). What an upset to have the King of the Bros roll-up the King of the RKO! Unfortunately, Orton’s death rattle in the match spelled doom for Riddle as another RKO to Riddle laid the groundwork for King Corbin to pick the bones and take the pin, eliminating Riddle. It was at this moment that Braun Strowman decided to run people over all-around the ring. But, a Keith Lee cross-body and a Claymore Kick dazed him enough to induce a count-out. I have to say, Corbin is doing a great job playing a master antagonizer, especially by riling up the Rosemont crowd by jawing back-and-forth with hometown boy Mustafa Ali. Unfortunately for Ali, Rollins was ready and waiting with a Stomp and an elimination once Ali got back in the ring. I loved the interaction here between Roman Reigns and King Corbin. These two are more than likely headed to a gimmick-based match at TLC next month, which I’m actually looking forward to because they’ve been (mostly) fun in direct contact with each other the last few weeks.

And then there were three: Reigns, Rollins and Lee. Due to his recent online tete-a-tete with CM Punk, Rollins had very few friends in the Rosemont crowd, which was signified by a Lee Jackhammer eliminating him and Team RAW from the match creating an explosion of cheers in the Allstate Arena. To quote Nigel McGuinness on commentary, “A man built like Keith Lee shouldn’t move like Keith Lee.” Reigns and Lee, Spear and Spirit Bomb, two former football players, staring down in front of over 12,000 people. This was electric. Arguably the moment of the night to see the WWE Universe get behind a relative newcomer to NXT in Lee going against one of the superstars that is the symbol of 2010’s WWE in Reigns (who to his credit, has a loyal and passionate fan base that made their voices heard here, as well). Superman Punch, two-count. Spirit Bomb, two-count. It looked like anybody’s game until Reigns nailed a spear on Lee that the latter sold like a shotgun blast. My hat’s off to both men for making each other look like two behemoths (and hopefully, future opponents in a can’t miss rivalry down the line).

Winner: Team SmackDown   Time: 29:25     Rating: 3 Stars

Brock Lesnar (C) vs. Rey Mysterio 

I love that Rey didn’t come out of for his entrance doing any of his usual babyface gesticulating, but instead looked chilled and focused to exact some revenge on Lesnar and win the WWE Championship. Rey ran right out of the ring when the bell rang to grab his extended lead pipe that he used to beat down Lesnar weeks ago on RAW. Lesnar wisely left the ring to force Rey to come to him. After knocking down Rey with a clothesline, Brock wrestled the pipe away from Rey and threw him out of the ring with ease. If there’s one man on the roster who can showcase just how strong Brock Lesnar is as a human being, Rey Mysterio is an ideal candidate for not only his size, but for his selling ability as well. Brock was laying out such a beating that he literally could take a few seconds to tie his right boot back up. As Brock approached Rey with the lead pipe in tow, Dominic Mysterio entered the ring with a towel alluding that he would “throw in the towel” to spare his father anymore punishment ala Martha Hart throwing in the towel for Bret Hart at Survivor Series 1994. With Brock being so focused on Dominic, he was completely blindsided by a low blow by the elder Mysterio and then subsequently by his son. A few lead pipe hits, one well-placed chair shot, and a dual 619 (a 12-2-18?) led to both Mysterio men hitting frog splashes on a fallen Lesnar. The crowd was completely invested and immersed in this sequence for the small chance that this would lead to the slaying of the Beast. But even all of that immediate offense wasn’t enough to vanquish Lesnar, who would pop up like a condensed spring and make quick work of both of his opponents. One F5 was all that Brock needed to finally lay down Mysterio and retain his championship. A quick match (in typical Lesnar fashion), but an exciting one for its brief nature.

Winner: Brock Lesnar             Time: 7:00       Rating: 3 Stars

Becky Lynch vs. Shayna Baszler vs. Bayley

I don’t have much to say about this match. Much like the women’s Survivor Series match, something wasn’t clicking here. There really wasn’t a lot of storytelling or intimate interaction between any of the women. It was almost like a choreography of moves where two women would fight for a few minutes, then another woman would come in, one of them would get thrown out, etc. It felt too much like a rehearsed performance rather than a fight between three women who have been beating each other down for weeks in the name of proving they are the best woman in WWE in 2019. Shayna was able to lock Bayley in a Kirafuda Clutch after throwing Becky over the announce table, giving the former Hugger no choice but to tap-out in the middle of the ring. I’m intrigued what happens next with Becky and Baszler after the Man knocked the Queen of Spades through the German announce table and stood tall as Survivor Series faded to black. I assume this is a “You haven’t beaten me, let’s go one-on-one,” storyline seed that I would not mind seeing at the Royal Rumble or another high-profile pay-per-view in the near future.

Winner: Shayna Baszler         Time: 18:10     Rating: 2 Stars

Overall Thoughts: Survivor Series crested and crashed within three-and-a-half hours, but that shouldn’t be interpreted as an insult to the show. It just means the event started a little slow with the women’s Survivor Series match, built up throughout the night and then eased itself back down after during a lackluster main event, which I would have to say was my least favorite match of the night. It just felt too rehearsed, not violent enough and it couldn’t wake up an exhausted crowd who had been taken to their emotional limits after the men’s Survivor Series match and the WWE Championship drama. My match of the night would have to be Adam Cole and Pete Dunne, although The Fiend and Daniel Bryan were not very far behind.

Final Survivor Series Rating: 3 Stars