Wrestling Review: WWE Survivor Series (2021)

It is the one night a year when Raw and SmackDown face off at WWE Survivor Series, as the Barclay Centre in Brooklyn, New York sees every champion of either brand facing off with their personal alternates. In the main event, it is the best versus the best as SmackDown’s Universal Champion, Roman Reigns battles the WWE Champion of Monday Night Raw, Big E. Reigns has been near unstoppable since claiming the gold and becoming SmackDown’s Head of the Table, but if there is anybody that can match power with the Big Dog, it is the massive powerhouse that is Big E. The Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch also goes one-one-one with SmackDown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair, in a match that has been threatening to boil over for quite some time, not helped by an explosive championship exchange just weeks ago. The reigning tag team champions of each brand will face off when RK-Bro (Randy Orton and Riddle) battle The Usos (Jimmy and Jey Uso), and Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura of SmackDown will face Damien Priest, the United States Champion of Raw, on the kick off show. As always, the Superstars from Raw and Smackdown go to war in Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Matches as five of Raw’s best men and women face off with their SmackDown counterparts, and 25 others from both Raw and SmackDown will collide in an over the top rope battle royale to celebrate 25 years since the Rock’s Survivor Series debut.

+ Roman Reigns (w/ Paul Heyman) vs Big E (Champion Versus Champion): this was a really good match, and hopefully has opened a lot of eyes as to what Big E can do, will continue to do, and could have done a long time ago as a top singles competitor. This was a different style of match for Reigns, too, comparable perhaps only to the recent Brock Lesnar fight, and that made for some compelling viewing. Going into the match it was hard to imagine these two were on the same level, considering the tear Reigns has been on over the past year-plus, but in the end that was all proven moot as Big Rose to the challenge. This was a really good main event
+ The Usos (Jimmy Uso & Jey Uso) vs RK-Bro (Randy Orton & Riddle) (Champion Versus Champion): I enjoyed this a lot, but it was almost entirely because of Riddle being let loose to do Riddle things. Someone int he WWE must really like Riddle, because he makes a fool of himself 99% of the time, but that seems to be the payment to let him do the best wrestling on any show that remaining portion. The crowd still loves Orton, and the Usos truly are one of the best tag teams in WWE history, so this was of course a technically competent match
+ Team Raw (Seth Rollins, Finn Bálor, Kevin Owens, Bobby Lashley, & Austin Theory) (w/ MVP) vs Team SmackDown (Drew McIntyre, Jeff Hardy, King Woods, Happy Corbin, & Sheamus) (w/ Madcap Moss) (Traditional 5-on-5 Elimination Match): there are so many former friendships and rivalries between members of each team, and their opponents — Hardy and Sheamus had a blood feud for months; Sheamus and Drew are former besties turned bitter enemies; Drew and Lashley had a series for the WWE Championship; Austin Theory is a former acolyte of the ‘Messiah’ version of Rollins; and so on — and it’s such a shame these things only seem to be mentioned as they become important, rather than happening naturally. Nobody stood out particularly over anyone else, and frankly it’s the ridiculous eliminations that I can’t take my mind off after the fact. The match was fine, but as always just a hugely wasted opportunity
+ Becky Lynch vs Charlotte Flair (Champion Versus Champion): after all the fuss in the build up to this, frankly I was surprised it went as cleanly and long as it did (I expected far more of a ‘omg look they are actually fighting’ garbage). This was very sloppy, but I get the feeling that was the intention, and it did make for a very interesting match up, if not a smooth one. I really like this version of Charlotte, particularly now that she is using some of Andrade El Idolo’s signature offense. I think Becky was channelling the Scarlet Witch in her ring gear, and she more than held her own in the way this match went

Team Raw (Bianca Belair, Rhea Ripley, Liv Morgan, Carmella, & Queen Zelina) vs Team SmackDown (Sasha Banks, Shayna Baszler, Shotzi, Natalya, & Toni Storm) (Traditional 5-on-5 Elimination Match): god almighty, this was horrendous. Sasha Banks is not good enough to be put in the leader position she is in, particularly when Natalya and Toni Storm, and to a lesser degree Shayna Baszler, are on the team and treated as afterthoughts. For Raw, Ripley and Belair were only ones really given anything, and Carmella and Zelina were literally treated as jokes, though at lease Liv got some support at times. The crowd crapped all over this just as I was starting to feel the same way, and the same old garbage WWE tropes began to rear their ugly head the longer the match went. This went on too long for the skill levels of those involved, to the point I was begging for this to just end however it could
25-Man Dual Branded Battle Royale: this was a giant mess from literally the opening bell. I think this is the first time that Omos, Commander Azeez and Shanky have been in the ring together and while they are literally the three worst wrestlers in the match, you can’t deny they are some BIG BOIS. This sucked beyond words
Shinsuke Nakamura (w/ Rick Boogs) vs Damien Priest (Champion Versus Champion): when these two were performing their (clearly pre-rehearsed) back and forth sequences, it was very exciting. Unfortunately, this had such an unbelievably poor ending that it ruined any previous goodwill built up. Like holy crap, who thought this was a good idea for the Kickoff Show match?
– there were absolutely no surprises at all on this show, and every single match went exactly as you would expect. There were a lot of timing issues or established match rules not being followed just to advance the stories of the match, followed by commentary trying to say what happened was not what I just saw with my own eyes. If it’s too difficult to make something look convincing, then just don’t do it
– throughout the whole show, there was a lot of crap tying in to The Rock’s new Netflix film, Red Notice (review incoming, I promise). None of it was any good, and I can’t imagine it would make anybody who had not seen the movie already want to watch it; I have already watched it, unfortunately for myself

> there was 2 hours and 10 minutes (ish) of wrestling, across the 4.5 hours of the Kickoff and the PPV proper. I skipped almost all of the entrances and video packages, and lord let me tell you my life is better for it
> what was the point of adding the Mysterios to Team Raw, or Aliyah to Team SmackDown, if they were just going to be taken off with no follow up on this show? Where is Asuka? Frankly it wouldn’t surprise me if half the people on this show were fired in a few months anyway. This company’s storytelling is a trainwreck

Should you watch this event: The build-up to this show was almost non-existent over the past month or so, with only a few scant moments actually having anything to do with the matches on this show themselves. I still can’t fathom this show taking place after (and so soon after) the draft, but from an in-ring standpoint there was some good stuff. Avoid that battle royale and women’s elimination tag match like your life depends on it.


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