Last night’s Survivor Series show was an entertaining night of pro wrestling, but one that held little overall storyline significance. There were no major surprises. There were no pushes to new people. We may have seen a turn, but it was portrayed as being so insignificant it was on the pre-show.
The theme of the night was the 25th Anniversary of the Rock’s first Survivor Series. That show was in Madison Square Garden, while this one was at the newer (and less-expensive to run) Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn. We saw many clips featuring the Rock, many commercials for the Rock’s new movie, but we did not get an appearance from the man himself.
The Brooklyn crowd got one unexpected appearance, but it was from Vince McMahon, not the Rock. McMahon spent the evening doing silly skits with a prop from the movie. Thankfully, he didn’t factor into any match finishes.
If a fan were to miss this show, they could watch RAW on Monday and be right in the same place as those who did watch. The matches themselves were good enough to be worth a look, though. WWE’s crew works hard even when there aren’t major angles to do.
The top singles champion versus champion matches bookended the show. Charlotte Flair and Becky Lunch led off with an excellent match. Both worked with intensity and the match felt like a battle between people who didn’t like each other. That’s rare in WWE these days. It had fewer stylized sequences and more brawling than usual. The finish protected Flair by having each of them try to cheat, with Lynch sneaking out the win.
Both have other challengers on the horizon for their own shows. While they may come back to this for another big event down the road, this felt like the end for now.
Roman Reigns worked a slow-paced match with Big E, but the tension built. The story was Roman battering Big E but only getting one-counts on covers early. Reigns put over his amazement at E’s resiliency, but in the end, Roman overcame it to get a clean win. Big E continues to endear himself to fans and has been a good WWE Champion, but this result wasn’t in doubt.
At this point, when it comes to Reigns, the only person to beat him will be Brock Lesnar or the Rock if they can work out a deal.
Big E has Seth Rollins to deal with on Mondays, while Drew McIntryre seems likely to be Roman’s next challenger on Fridays.
The tag team champion versus champion match was good but could have been a strong house show match. Perhaps Roman will embarrass the Usos for losing, but overall it won’t factor into anything long term. Randy Orton broke the record for most pay-per-view matches in history with this event.
The elimination matches pushed people that were already in top challenger position. Bianca Belair and Seth Rollins picked up victories to go toward their title pursuit of the RAW championships.
While the wrestlers worked hard, the match construction was lazy. There were three countout eliminations in the men’s match. Kevin Owens walked out on his team at the very beginning, robbing fans of seeing a good worker. With his contract up soon, it’s likely he’ll be doing a lot of losing in the next few weeks unless he re-signs.
Later, Drew McIntyre and Bobby Lashley fought outside the ring until they were both eliminated. It’s the classic WWE booking conundrum. They create a match in which half the people involved have to lose, then realize they don’t want many of them doing jobs.
Rollins won the match, maintaining his spot as the top contender for the WWE title.
The women’s elimination match fell flat to the live crowd. They did the wave and chanted for CM Punk. Again, everyone worked hard but the match was forgettable. Sasha Banks was eliminated by countout when the heels on her team turned on her and kept pulling her out of the ring before she could break the count. Banks just walked away, not doing much about it, which was less than inspiring for a babyface.
The story of the match was supposed to be an amazing comeback by Belair from 4-on-1 to a victory.
Damian Priest seems to have started a heel turn by destroying Rick Boogs’ guitar at ringside during Priest’s match with Shinsuke Nakamura. We’ll have to see whether they follow it up on RAW or not. Priest’s newfound temper has been a storyline on Mondays.
Overall, this felt like a house show. With the usual suspects coming out on top and no real surprises, it didn’t feel like part of the overall canon. It was a good night of wrestling, but a fan wouldn’t feel like they were behind in the story if they missed it.
Survivor Series was one of the biggest shows of the year for a long time. This version was the least-relevant of the 35 thus far.