Yesterday, Survivor Series was held in Boston for what is considered the premiere pay-per-view of the Fall on the WWE calendar, somewhat of benchmark before the Royal Rumble and the start of Wrestlemania season. Sure, there will be other premium live events, but Survivor Series is often considered to be a key event, mostly because it has such an extensive history. The broadcast started with the always well-produced WWE video package from the state-of-the-art production staff. Too often because pay-per-views have become more of a formality than major events, an aspect that was made exponentially more clear after the Peacock deal since the WWE priority is to produce content as opposed to sell PPVs, there aren’t nearly as many opening videos that stand out, but the Ozzy Osbourne music video was top-notch stuff that gave the atmosphere of an important show.
When there are two signature gimmick matches on the show, the card usually kicks off with one of them and this time, it was the women’s war games match. The bout went about 40 minutes and it dragged toward the conclusion, but the main takeaway from this contest should be that it again highlighted just how much talent the division has right now. The exchanges between Bianca Belair and Dakota Kai at the start of the match were tremendous and that was followed with superb work from Io Sky. Truthfully, there was really too much action in this contest to attempt to discussed all of it, but it was a quality performance from everyone involved. Rhea Ripley continues to prove that she can be a star, and Becky showed that she didn’t have any ring rust after the return from injury. The only downside is that continuous chaos will eventually fizzle out if it goes on too long and that’s what happened. The particular spot where the momentum halted was the handcuff spot with Nikki Cross and Alex Bliss. I’m not sure if there was a miscommunication or if the cuff got stuck somehow, but Nikki more or less had to stand on the ropes, fumbling with the cuffs before Alexa eventually got them to handcuff her. I understand why they wanted to give Lynch more minutes in the bout to establish her return, but they could’ve trimmed at least five minutes from this segment to keep the action tight. Still, this was a great match and one of the better matches on the card. Becky hit a leg drop from the table of the cage through a table at the finish for a solid way to conclude the bout.
The problem with those extra few minutes in the cage match was that there were over 15 minutes of video packages and commercials until there was action on the show again. There was a rather unnecessary video package for Brock Lesnar, who wasn’t scheduled for the show and then there was a video package for the Bloodline, even though those same clips were replayed again before the main event. Of course, there had to be a video package to hype the next match, AJ Styles vs. Finn Balor before they got in the ring. This isn’t meant as a negative at all, but there’s not too much to say about this bout because it was what you’d expect from an AJ/Finn match. It was quality in-ring wrestling from two polished pros, and in many ways, this was the substance on the card to go with the sizzle of the War Games match in the main event. There was a confrontation between the two factions at ringside before AJ hit a flying forearm for the win.
After another ten minutes of commercials and video packages, the Smackdown Women’s title was next on the broadcast. Quite frankly, the bloom is off the rose for the Ronda Rousey experiment, and despite the level of star power she might have left from her MMA career, I think management should seriously consider if their investment in the Ronda character is worth the return. Keep in mind, Ronda was discontent with the fans after her initial run in the company, and with lackluster performances in recent months, it’s doubtful there will be a fan demand for her to remain a centerpiece of the division on Smackdown. Perhaps, the Fox executives want her in that spot, and considering Fox paid over a billion dollars for the broadcast rights for the blue brand, that overrules the fans. This match was clunky and sloppy, and the bottom line is, Ronda just hasn’t improved in the ring at all. Sure, she shined when she was in there with the top talent that could make her look good, but that’s to be expected under those circumstances. Unfortunately, she’s completely subpar without someone to carry her to a good match. I’m not sure how much of an upside Shotzi has as a potential star, but it wasn’t enough to camouflage Rousey’s weakness. There was a botched DDT on the apron and the match was completely flat after that. There were some “Sasha” chants from the crowd and you could tell the production truck turned down the crowd mics. The match had no pace and even though it only went about six minutes, it was still a tedious viewing experience. Rousey retained the title with an arm bar for the submission.
The triple threat match for the US title was fine and the action picked up near the conclusion, but I have to say, I just didn’t care who won the match, which was more because of the stagnant angle than anything else. Seth Rollins is one of the most talented in-ring performers on the roster, but what exactly is his character? Is he a baby face? is he a heel? Is he supposed to be the Joker? Is Bobby Lashley a baby face? Is this primarily a feud between Lashley and Rollins, or Rollins and Theory? Theory got the win after Lashley speared Rollins, and I understand that the finish was designed to get heat, but I’m still not sold on Theory. As I mentioned before, I didn’t exactly see what the hype was about or why he was being given the McMahon push, and with the way he was booked to look like a total dork with the failed cash-in a few weeks ago, it’s going to take more than this type of win to rejuvenate his status on Raw.
The main event was solid, but again went around 40 minutes so it had a few low points. That said, this match was booked to be the storytelling bout of the pair of War Games matches booked on the card, which is fine. Sometimes, when the world title isn’t being defended on the show and there are two gimmick matches with multiple competitors on the pay-per-view, it would be very easy for the show to be chalked up to just a speculate without much purpose for storylines, but this gave the event specific context to the progress of an angle. The ability of Sami Zayn as a well-rounded performer can’t be understated. Obviously, Roman Reigns is well-established, but this segment made the rest of the Bloodline look like major stars and elevated their status. The Bloodline get the win and they are undoubtedly the top draw in the company.
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Until next week
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