The Survivor Series Report Card: Playing His Own Game

We are just 24 hours removed from the greatest night in the history of our sport and somehow, the hits just keep on coming as we now shift our focus to Survivor Series, arguably the finest WWE match card of the year. From a stacked 5-on-5 clash to a female “dream match” of sorts as well as a mouth-watering affair between Brock Lesnar and AJ Styles, this show seems to have it all. Personally I’m very excited and that isn’t surprising considering how tremendous ‘Cien’s celebration party was last night but nonetheless, this card is stacked enough as is and there’s no time for stalling so for the 2nd day straight day, let’s head to the Toyota Centre and get things started.

DISCLAIMER: any wild predictions I make that you disagree with will likely be proven completely wrong in the coming weeks, months and years anyway so don’t worry too much. Basically, take everything you read from this point forward with a grain of salt as its credibility is preposterously low.

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ANOTHER DISCLAIMER: I don’t want this to become a trend but on this occasion I have to reluctantly accept defeat and give covering these three pre-show matches a skip. They were all fine but I don’t have too much insight to give and considering that, I think its best that we get straight to the main show. I will say that Elias sounded wonderful as always though.

The New Day vs The Shield

Our opener is a highly anticipated one here but first we get a standard New Day pre-match promo before getting things started with Dean and Kofi and then Rollins and Woods. The Shield representatives got the better of both those exchanges and that led to ‘The Big Dog’ Roman Reigns squaring off with Big E in a big bloke clash. Though E had his moments, The Shield quickly run them off and isolated Woods for a little Unicorn Stampede action in the corner. Kofi soon came in to turn things around for his team though and they then repaid the favor and run their own Unicorn Stampede through Dean Ambrose.

They then went into a prolonged heat segment on Ambrose before a brawl broke out and allowed Dean to hit a big dive but he was quickly put back on defense by E’s always terrifying spear through the ropes. From there The New Day continued to isolate Dean until he fought free and tagged in Seth who ran wild and hit the turnbuckle power-bomb which Reigns followed up on with a lariat for 2. Reigns then nailed a superman as Woods went for a discus forearm and this was now electric almost purely due to Reigns’ quite unique presence and aura.

Woods blocked his spear though and Ambrose tagged in as things suddenly broke down and allowed everyone to hit their cool moves. Seth and Dean nailed their combo finish on Kofi but Woods broke the fall and The Shield took out E and Kingston, isolating Woods for the triple power-bomb. Big E saved Xavier though and in an instant New Day were now in control out of nowhere and with Dean all alone they took advantage as Kofi hit a top rope splash and Big E came off of Woods’ shoulders with one of his own.

That didn't close the show though and nor did a double Midnight Hour as Reigns broke the fall by spearing E directly onto the pin-fall. All 6 men made it to their feet for a big square off and brawl and eventually Kofi was floored by a spear and finished off with an elevated triple power-bomb to give The Shield the win. This was a very good match that really had some exceptional moments even if it never quite flowed for me to the level that I had hoped it would. A lot of fun nonetheless.

Grade: B

Team SmackDown (Becky Lynch, Carmella, Natalya, Tamina and Naomi) vs Team Raw (Alicia Fox, Bayley, Sasha Banks, Nia Jax and Asuka)

The first of two traditional Survivor Series matches is up now and we start things off with an iconic captain vs. captain exchange. Believe it or not this didn't really feel very important and things were immediately messy before Bayley made a blind tag and rolled up Becky to eliminate her….yes seriously. Natalya came in as Lynch left and went back and forth with Bayley until Tamina and Asuka tagged in next. This is all over the place and everyone seems to be working in their own little world thus far.

So befuddled by what’s taking place in front of him, Booker T exclaimed “WHAT HAPPENED?!” for no apparent reason but to be completely honest, I shared his sentiment at that moment. Tamina began to look very beaten up at this point, tagged herself out and moments later a Superkick from Carmella floored Bayley and Tamina eliminated her with the famous big splash. This led to the huge Nia Jax – Tamina face-off and the crowd actually popped for this as they traded headbutts before Nia hulked up and hit that wacky cannonball gimmick she’s started doing recently.

Lana distracted her though which allowed Tamina to hit two super kicks, sending Nia to the floor in the process. Naomi then hit a big dive to keep her on the outside and Tamina did the same with one more super-kick and a cross-body off the steps as she eliminated Jax by count-out. Naomi came in next and had one of the funniest wrestling exchanges of all time with Captain Fox as they seemed to just run past each other without any real rhyme or reason leaving me absolutely exhausted by my own befuddlement.

Naomi eventually rolled through and seemed to be setting Fox up for her submission finish but instead the referee counted three and RAW’s captain was now out. Amazing. Sasha then instantly submitted Naomi and Asuka was soon in to beat up Carmella, eliminating her with a cool looking kick. With both teams now down to two women each, Banks and Natalya went back and forth in what was probably the match’s best action thus far and Sasha applied the Bank Statement but Natalya’s cries of “SAVE ME” eventually caught Tamina’s attention as she broke the hold.

Natalya then turned things around and submitted Sasha with the sharpshooter, even if mostly due to Tamina removing Asuka from the apron and taking away a potential tag. Now all alone Asuka soon eliminated Tamina with an armbar and after countering the sharpshooter won the match for her team with the Asuka Lock. The finish here was ideal but wow, everything prior to it was really rough and at times, this was comically bad. I get the sense that some will disagree with my critique here but I can only be honest in saying that from my vantage point, this really wasn't very at all.

Grade: D

Baron Corbin vs. The Miz

The night’s wackiest match is up next and the weirdness was immediately apparent as Miz continually punched Baron in the face all whilst evading his counters but Corbin eventually cut him off and began taunting Maryse with great phrases such as “that’s what a real man does.” This understandably fired Miz up and he ran wild until Corbin halted his momentum and got the heat on…all whilst telling fans to “shut up and sit down.” Bo soon took Corbin’s leg out though and Miz focused on it with chop-blocks and such before putting on the figure 4 leg lock but Corbin made it to the ropes.

He then hit a deep six out of nowhere for two and made a big comeback whilst selling his leg, taking out the Miztourage as well as Miz until his End of Days attempt was countered into Miz’s DDT for 2. The Intercontinental champ then turned to his yes kicks and the follow-up dropkicks but eventually Baron caught him with End of Days for the win. He then cut a short promo over Miz’s unconscious body and this was a really nice showing for Corbin as he sold well and showed the ability to up the intensity down the stretch too. Miz is always entertaining and that was no different here as these guys did a good job with an admittedly bizarre matchup.

Grade: C+

The Bar vs. The Usos

Another champion vs. champion match followed now as the two tag team titleholders collided. The Usos once again came to the ring whilst cutting a promo and this match quickly got off to an intense start as Jimmy and Sheamus got physical right away. The SmackDown champs were in control early and made some quick tags until Cesaro fought out of the corner awesomely and made a tag. Jey’s attempt at a dive was thwarted by Cesaro's uppercut and whilst his brother successfully made a dive of his own, it only led to Sheamus taking him out with a rolling senton on the floor as the heels then got the heat on Jimmy.

I’m not going to recycle this whole point but I have to say it again, The Bar are a great team but they need to get a lot more creative with their heat segments as right now they are completely flat and really take the energy out of matches. Jimmy eventually made the tag though and Jey came in with a strong hot tag on Cesaro. Meanwhile Sheamus took Jimmy out on the outside and that distracted Jey and allowed the heels to turn things around.

A Cesaro Swing preceded the sharpshooter and great selling from Jey finally hooked the previously quite uninterested audience as he finally reached the ropes in a dramatic false finish. Jey fought both heels off briefly but was then dropped by some cool tandem offense which forced Jimmy to break the fall. Things were really picking up now as Jey Samoan Dropped Sheamus off of Cesaro’s shoulders for a big near-fall. Sheamus then smartly held Jey's leg to stop him from making the tag but he fought free and tagged Jimmy in eventually.

A ton of super kicks then put Sheamus down and Jimmy made the tag whilst diving over the top rope onto Cesaro, allowing Jey to hit the big splash for the win. It was now 2-2 and this was an excellent match that once again showed the absolute brilliance of The Usos. The first half wasn't perfect but once they got going it was a quite riveting affair.

Grade: B+

A very bad Jason Jordan promo that no asked for followed as he explained his disappointment at being replaced on Team RAW.

Charlotte Flair vs. Alexa Bliss

My instincts told me that this was a tough spot for the women’s champion vs. champion match but nonetheless I had high hopes and Charlotte was immediately in control, forcing Alexa to stall. We had some trading chants as Bliss delayed things and it was clear just from Flair’s body language how much she wanted this match to be important. They had a really physical exchange of strikes as Alexa was goaded into a fight briefly before yanking Charlotte off the apron arm first. Bliss then began to focus on Flair’s arm and ribs and it must be said that Charlotte’s selling has improved dramatically as of late.

Charlotte’s big match experience has given her real confidence and that showed as she waited for the crowd to react to her selling of Alexa’s hold in the heat segment. They eventually did come up for her but she couldn't body slam Bliss due to her arm and Alexa was now all over her. This was a women’s match which meant that the babyface had to go head first into the middle turnbuckle but Flair got back on offense soon anyway, countering a tornado DDT and hitting a slam into the ropes. She was stopped whilst looking for the moonsault though and Bliss hit insult to injury on Charlotte’s back from the middle rope.

After her first attempt was countered, Alexa hit the sunset flip bomb for 2 but Flair blocked a DDT attempt and fired up with chops. Alexa then hooked a guillotine attempt and the gravity of it was summed up by the absolutely agony etched across her face as Flair hulked up and hit a power-bomb for 2. Bliss then blocked a Figure 8 attempt with a forearm but Charlotte hit natural selection for a false finish nonetheless. She missed the moonsault though and Bliss soon hit a forearm and DDT after begging off but Flair got her foot on the bottom rope.

Charlotte fought back with a spear but couldn't keep on offense as Alexa went after her ribs again. She stomped Flair out and went up for Twisted Bliss but Charlotte got her knees up, hit a big boot and got the win with the Figure 8. This was a very good match and what stood out to me was how brilliantly both used their faces to sell and portray the match’s emotion. These two are both ridiculously good for their experience level and if this is any indication, the inevitable feud will be something quite special. Really liked this and can’t wait for more.

Grade: B

AJ Styles vs. Brock Lesnar

Just for a quick BRAND SUPREMACY update, SmackDown currently finds itself 3-2 up and it’s now time for what I sense is the people’s main event. Brock immediately cornered AJ and was instantly in control, beating Styles up around the ring. At first I felt that this didn't start rapidly enough but in hindsight there was a reason for that and regardless, Brock almost killed AJ with belly to belly and German suplexes. Lesnar then launched Styles out of the ring before bringing him back in for a brief visit to Suplex City. At this point Booker was so delighted by Lesnar’s dominance that he called Byron “son” and I was now very fired up.

Brock then seemingly knocked AJ out with a wild knee in the corner and invited the WWE Champion to fight back but after avoiding the initial attacks, Styles scored with a big flurry before being floored again. He countered the F5 attempt though and sidestepped Lesnar, quickly taking his leg out soon after. Brock caught AJ's springboard attack and almost fell over but AJ survived again and hit a Pele to the back of Lesnar's head. His Phenomenal Forearm effort missed though and allowed Brock to hit an insane looking German suplex which summed up Styles’ obscene bumping throughout this match.

Lesnar then went flying outside somehow and almost decapitated Styles in the process but the aptly named ‘Phenomenal One’ stayed on his feet and hit a Phenomenal Forearm to the outside, flooring Lesnar before launching him into the steps in a spot that brought some foul language out of the beast. A strike exchange left both men down but Styles was up first and hit a Lionsault as well as a 450 splash for two incredible near-fallls. His Styles Clash attempt was countered into an F5 but AJ had a counter of his own and put on the calf-crusher.

Even though logic told us otherwise, both men sold the contrasting sides of this hold so well that they convinced the audience that the end may be nigh. Suddenly Brock smashed AJ into the mat violently to escape though and went for an F5 that Styles once again escaped from. AJ was now on the apron and he hit a hard standing forearm before following up with the Phenomenal Forearm for 2. His attempt at hitting it one more time was halted though and Lesnar ended things with an F5.

Wow, what a match and what incredible showings from both guys. The pacing and length shocked me but Lesnar’s aura early and immaculate selling down the stretch only helped things as opposite him, AJ Styles put in one of the finest performances I’ve seen all year. I will continue to beat this drum simply because I see it as the truth: AJ is on a level of his own in that ring simply because he can get the absolute best out of anyone and everyone. Wonderful match that was only hurt by the order making it predictable, even if that’s more understandable in hindsight….I guess.

Grade: A*

Team RAW (Kurt Angle, Finn Balor, Samoa Joe, Braun Strowman and Triple H) vs. Team SmackDown (Shane McMahon, Randy Orton, Bobby Roode, Shinsuke Nakamura and John Cena)

Main event time now as these ridiculous teams finally collide. All 10 men square off and the action started after Shane’s sneak attack on Braun got him launched across the ring right away. Joe and Orton both then came in respectively and I was rightly now very excited as these two Report Card favorites went back and forth and blocked each other’s finishers. Balor and Shin soon came in to kill my buzz but the crowd seemed to like it which says a lot about Texas as a wrestling audience.

​​​​​​These two were a step ahead of each other due to their “history” and Triple H quickly came in for a surreal square off with Nakamura who shot on him briefly until he turned things around before Roode tagged himself in. Yes you read that correctly, it was time for father and son to go head to head. There was disrespect from both sides with HHH sadly stopping a GLORIOUS taunt with a punch but Roode fired back with some lovely 80s punches before running into a AA spinebuster. He countered the pedigree though and hit a ARN spinebuster of his own as the pair went back and forth attempting their finishers until Kurt was tagged in.

In an Impact main event sequence, Angle hit his three German Suplexes on Roode but the Olympic slam was countered and a double clothesline led to Shinsuke coming to batter poor Kurt for no apparent reason. He even took a cheap-shot on Braun whilst running wild on everyone but Strowman eventually came in to destroy and eliminate him with a running power-slam. Roode quickly followed as Braun got rid of him too and suddenly just three men remained on team blue. Joe tagged himself in though as he was bored and this created an argument with Braun that got me very excited for their inevitable feud. That then led to Kurt and Hunter arguing which got me somehow less excited for their inevitable feud.

This gave Orton an opportunity and SmackDown cleaned house leaving just Braun to face off with both Cena and Orton….you know, the two biggest stars of their generation? They eventually got rid of Braun but he then KO’d both with single right hands on the outside and prepared a table for destruction. He of course ended up going through it himself though as all 5 members of Team SmackDown combined to suplex him through the table. Cena was in full-on Hogan 95 mode here as he wildly shouted people’s full names for no reason whatsoever.

Shane went up top for an elbow drop on the floored Braun but Joe cut him off and hit an insane Suplex off the top rope which led to him and Cena facing off. A uranage got Joe the better of things and Finn tagged himself in which angered King Joe as he then immediately tagged himself back in. He turned into Cena though and two AA’s eliminated Joe who made way for Angle. Here was a moment between a Hall of Famer and the man that inducted him just six months ago and this crowd couldn’t care less.

In fairness, the pair’s actual exchange didn’t help things either as they had a cold back and forth with Cena making his comeback until Kurt countered and put on the ankle lock. Cena fought free but took an Olympic Slam and though this pin was broke up, the 2nd one which followed Finn’s Coup de Grace eliminated Cena in the flattest way imaginable. Orton was now back in with Finn opposite him and after violently kicking Shane in the face, Balor seemed to have Orton in trouble but Randall avoided his finisher and hit a RKO for the pin.

Orton was quickly isolated afterwards though and as he attempted to make the tag, Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens came out to remove Shane from the apron. Incredibly, McMahon fought both off with a chair and an RKO sent Owens officially packing. Braun was back unfortunately for SmackDown though and he destroyed Randy, eliminating him and leaving Shane all alone. After an insane amount of stalling, Triple H tagged himself in and this moment got no reaction but that didn’t stop more stalling until Kurt then tagged himself in. Shane hit all of his awful offence on the opposing general manager but Angle turned things around and put on the ankle lock.

“HE’S GONNA GET HIS ANKLE BROKE IN HALF,” exclaimed Booker but that possibility would be stopped by Hunter as he came in and turned on Kurt, hitting a pedigree and dragging Shane on top of him for the pin. Triple H is now side by side with Shane and Braun was understandably very confused. Then in the least surprising moment of all time, HHH pedigreed Shane to win the match for Team RAW. Now look, I’ve never claimed to be a genius but I fail to understand what this even really meant. I get that Hunter wanted the win for himself but I don’t grasp why I should care about him being selfish. Isn’t that perfectly in character for him?

This whole thing angered Braun and he grabbed HHH by the throat and made some threats. Hunter then tried for a pedigree but Strowman picked him up and hit a power-slam to build up a match between the two….maybe? I have to say that I genuinely love much of the WWE’s product right now but the 2nd half of this match was absolutely brutal on so many levels. I hate to be a cliche guy but it must be said, Triple H getting the win here did nothing for the negative perception that forever surrounds his booking. It’s all about the future until it comes to securing a spot on the WrestleMania card I guess. Oh well, at least they made BRAUN look good.

Grade: C+

Final Thoughts

Excluding the two actual Survivor Series matches, I loved pretty much everything else on this show. The opener was fun and Miz/Corbin very solid but the show’s real peak came in the middle three champion vs. champion matches as each brought something new and fresh. The tag champion clash was incredible down the stretch and Charlotte and Alexa had a real main event style singles match before Brock and AJ came in to absolutely steal the show. That hour alone made this a strong show and that along with the rest made it a very enjoyable watch in my opinion.

Grade: B+

Please comment your Survivor Series thoughts below or just tweet me abuse @JoeHulbert5 like many others already do. See you at Full Sail folks.

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