Wrestling Review: WWE Survivor Series (2018)

The one night of the wrestling year when Raw and Smackdown Live go head to head, WWE presents Survivor Series. The top champion of the red show, Raw’s Universal Champion Brock Lesnar will headline the event for the second year in a row, though this time it will be against the freshly crowned WWE Champion, SmackDown Live’s Rasputin-esque monster known as Daniel Bryan. Will a perfect week for Bryan continue, or will the wrath of Suplex City prove to be too much? The Raw women’s champion Ronda Rousey was scheduled to face the Smackdown Champion, but due to a careless right hand from Nia Jax, Becky Lynch is not cleared to compete, and instead has chosen Charlotte Flair to take her place. The dream match between Rousey and Flair might be happening a few months earlier than many anticipated, but both women are determined to win, and will stop at nothing to do so. The Intercontinental Champion Seth Rollins will face the United States Champion Shinsuke Nakamura, and the Tag Team Champions of each show will face off as The Bar clashes with The AOP. All of this, plus three huge elimination matches at WWE Survivor Series.

+ Daniel Bryan vs Brock Lesnar (w/ Paul Heyman) (Champion vs Champion): I was hesitant to even want to see Bryan and his neck have to face the suplex spam of Lesnar, but god damn, this was incredible. Bryan’s technical skills were the perfect counter to the power game of Brock, and the new-found bad guy persona (only a week old, as it may be) was a surprising and fresh way to take the match. This was great, and I am very, very glad it went on last because it deserved to
+ Charlotte Flair vs Ronda Rousey: this was fantastic, almost entirely on the back of how much punishment Ronda is willing to (and, perhaps moreso, able to) absorb. I’ll admit this really didn’t go the way I thought it would, and I do wonder if the match would have gone the same way were it Ronda/Becky, but nonetheless, this was a spectacle. It was not pretty, but I absolutely could not look away
+ Buddy Murphy (c) vs Mustafa Ali (WWE Cruiserweight Championship): I can’t remember the last time the cruiserweight division was given such a spotlight, and these two absolutely delivered. Mustafa Ali has always been a bit left behind on 205 Live, and Murphy came out of nowhere in the tournament before Wrestlemania, so both of these guys were willing to put it all on the line and managed to put on fantastic match, one of the best in the 205 Live division’s history
+ Seth Rollins vs Shinsuke Nakamura (Champion vs Champion): I enjoyed this match, including a (potentially unintentional meta plot of Rollins having all the NJPW inspired moves, and Nakamura having counters for them all). It did perhaps go on a bit too long, but the flurry of offence from both men towards the end was great, and showed that when both men want to, they can put on a hell of a show
+ Team Raw (Mickie James, Tamina, Nia Jax, Sasha Banks & Bayley) (w/ Alexa Bliss) vs Team SmackDown Live (Carmella, Naomi, Mandy Rose, Sonya Deville & Asuka) (5-on-5 Elimination Match): It is almost unbelievable how much the crowd was behind Smackdown for this match. Nia Jax in particular was booed out of the building, but it was clear that was the reaction they were hoping they would get. Both teams had their share of ‘fall gals’ which were solely to give the top stars an elimination or two, but once it came down to the final few it was pretty good

Team Raw (Braun Strowman, Drew McIntyre, Dolph Ziggler, Bobby Lashley & Finn Balor) (w/ Lio Rush) vs Team SmackDown Live (Shane McMahon, The Miz, Rey Mysterio, Jeff Hardy & Samoa Joe) (5-on-5 Elimination Match): the last few years’ matches have been full of some of the worst decision making I’ve ever seen, and this was no different. The matches are usually fun, entirely on the back of the number of different matchups there can be, but for some reason I am always surprised with who is eliminated and when. This was essentially a squash, and I can’t believe it
The Bar (Sheamus & Cesaro) (w/ The Big Show) vs The Authors of Pain (Akam & Rezar) (w/ Drake Maverick) (Champion vs Champion): it’s not often that The Bar are the second toughest team in the match. Despite the size difference, it was clear that the AOP are still very new to this, and arguably have never had a stage as big as this one here, and frankly it showed. It did mean, however, that The Bar got to play the good guys, and the crowd was hugely behind them… until the ending which was perhaps the stupidest thing I have seen in years
Raw vs SmackDown Tag Team Elimination Match: this was very sloppy, even once the “lower” teams were eliminated. It shouldn’t be a surprise that teams such as The Colons and The Ascension were just there to fill a spot, despite the fact they could all have been important. Overall, this was not a good match, especially when it came to the ending which just highlighted how badly the tag teams have been treated (especially on the Raw side)

Should you watch this event: Despite all of the elimination matches being disappointing in one way or another, all of the Raw vs SmackDown Live Champion vs Champion matches (including Rousey vs Charlotte) were great, if not amazing. This was a very easy show to watch, despite my watching it in three segments over the past few days. Rousey/Charlotte and Bryan/Lesnar are must see.

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