Survivor Series 2018 Review

In the late 1990s the most popular stars in what we now call the WWE were Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock. Austin would act in every way like a heel bad guy would, The Rock would rake every opportunity to run down almost everyone he interacted with. But people absolutely loved them for it. It appears given recent WWE booking which was none more evident than at Survivor Series 2018 that we once again live in a world were it’s cool to be bad, given that the loudest reactions on this show by a mile were either boos to heels that were hated, or thunderous cheers for people acting like heels. The expectations of this show going in were universally low, not helped by the fact the most hyped main event match on the show was cancelled 24 hours after it had reached its peak levels of anticipation, but somehow I say tentatively given it only just happened a mere number of hours ago, but I think this show was kind of good…

Team Smackdown (Sole Survivors: The Usos) defeated Team Raw in a Tag Team 10 v 10 Survivor Series Elimination Match

The sole pre show match was long as expected, and generally a clusterfuck as expected. But it wasn’t bad, just wasn’t great either. The final few minutes between The Revival of Raw and The Usos of Smackdown was by far the best part. The Usos captaining their team and picking up the win after the big splash off the top (with added Roman Reigns fist pump en-route). About what you’d expect quality wise from a pre show.

** 1/2

Other pre show notes:

Ruby Riott and Natalya were replaced on Team Raw for the women by Sasha and Bayley after a brawl between the 2 led to Captain Alexa Bliss removing them both from the match.

A hype video was played suggest NXT superstar Lars Sullivan is ‘coming soon’ to the main roster

Mandy Rose will be the 5th member of Team Smackdown for the women’s match (which will open the show)

—————

MAIN SHOW:

Team Raw (Sole Survivor: Nia Jax) defeated Team Smackdown in a Women’s 5 v 5 Survivor Series Elimination Match

Nia Jax came out to one of the loudest heel reactions of modern times. Maybe not since Roman Reigns opened Raw the night after beating The Undertaker have we heard such a volume of boos towards a WWE superstar. The match was fine, maybe just above what I thought it’d be quality wise. There were some cool parts as well with Asuka and Sasha having a showdown, Mandy Rose stealing a pin from her best friend Sonya Deville and Carmella with her dance break. Tamina pinned Smackdown Team Captain Naomi after a Superkick almost immediately. Carmella pinned Tamina with a schoolboy pin which I found odd. Mandy Rose pinned Mickie James after Sonya Deville gave her a running knee and then Mandy pushed Deville out the way. Bayley pinned Carmella after a Bayley to Belly. Sasha Banks defeated Mandy Rose after a Banks Statement. Bayley & Sonya Deville were both eliminated after being counted out counted out. Nia Jax pushed her teammate Sasha Banks off the top rope, and this allowed Asuka to give her the Asuka Lock for the submission. And Jax won the match after 3 big Leg Drops and a Samoan Drop pretty quick after. Crowd weren’t too lively for most, but booed heavily everything Nia Jax did particularly the finish. I guess she’s now one of and maybe the most despised heels in the company, but fact remains she’s incompetent, wreckless and genuinely bad at her job.

** 3/4

There was then a rather odd segment when Stephanie McMahon backstage told Acting Raw GM Baron Corbin that on order for him to get his job full time, Raw would need to win with a clean sweep this evening. (Seems as the night drew on they pretended the Smackdown pre show match win either didn’t count or didn’t happen).

Seth Rollins defeated Shinsuke Nakamura

This was a long match but I thought a good one as expected given who was involved. They both did all their usual stuff and got plenty of nearfalls. Rollins won clean after dodging out the way of a potential Kinshasa knee and hitting the Curb Stomp. There was no Dean Ambrose appearance as many had expected there may be.

****

The Raw Men’s team were seen backstage. Braun stated he didn’t like Lashley, Ziggler or McIntyre but was ok with Balor. Drew cameback at him and they argued. Then R-Truth (who also made an appearance when the Smackdown women’s team were together backstage during the pre show and was funny there, but excelled himself in this segment). Truth gave Team Raw a pep talk until Corbin told him he wasn’t on the team and told him to get out, his delivery was so great it made this part even more hilarious. It was made clear after Braun couldn’t touch Corbin so he threw Lio Rush into him instead.

AOP defeated The Bar

Sadly for those involved (who put on an interesting and half decent match) people will forever remember this match for 2 things that had pretty much nothing to do with the match although one did lead to the finish. I don’t want to give him too much time but basically Enzo Amore was sat in the 2nd row on the side the cameras shoot towards, he made himself know during the match and was quickly led away from the seats by security. This diverted all attention from the match. What an asshole. The finish of the match came after Drake Maverick was chased by Cesaro only to run into Big Show. He held Maverick and as he was so scared Maverick pissed himself. Legit. For fuck sake. AOP got the win soon after off the distraction with their finisher to Sheamus.

** 1/2

The Smackdown Men’d team were seen backstage. Miz seemed to lead the pep talk. R-Truth turned up again, he asked Shane McMahon if he could join the Smackdown roster. Shane reminded him he was already on the Smackdown roster. Truth was relieved and said Raw was a mess. R-Truth is absolutely hilarious.

Buddy Murphy defeated Mustafa Ali to retain the Cruiserweight Championship.

This was about as good as I expected from these 2, which was very. Lots of cool looking spots, mainly Ali doing a Spanish Fly off the Announce table which got the crowd excited. Some really good sequences throughout, Buddy was fantastic and although Ali winning the title would’ve been a great babyface moment, keeping the title on the dominant and excellent heel in Murphy was the right call. Crowd weren’t too interested at the start but couldn’t help but care as a result of the quality of in-ring action. If this was meant as a showcase match to get people to watch 205Live I don’t think they could’ve put out a better advert. Murphy won after a hard knee and his finisher.

****

WWE Champion Daniel Bryan was walking backstage and was stopped by Kayla Braxton for an interview. She asked if he was ready for Brock. He didn’t answer and just stopped and then carried on walking.

Team Raw (Survivors: Braun Strowman, Bobby Lashley and Drew McIntyre) defeated Team Smackdown in a Men’s 5 v 5 Survivor Series Elimination Match

This was odd in places but somehow ended up being a very good match. There was some debate amongst Braun and Drew at the start as Braun was going to start but McIntyre tags himself in. He then almost immediately hit a Claymore on Samoe Joe and pinned him. In his home state Joe was eliminated just over 30 seconds in. Good for Drew, sad that Joe was in that spot. Mysterio, another California native, was super pver and hit a few 619s during the match that the crowd popped huge for. Shane, with plenty of help of course, did his flying elbow off the top to put Strowman through the Announce table. Rey pinned Finn which for whilst it happened was cool to see, Shane hit the coast to coast on Dolph to beat him. Then Braun cameback from the table spot and proceeded to do his running powerslam and then pin all of Jeff Hardy, Rey, Miz and lastly Shane to win the match for Raw. Baron Corbin jumped Strowman after the match so that the surviving heels celebrated separately. The booking here was annoying in places but it was fun to watch with a generally high standard of in-ring work.

****

Intercontinental Champion Seth Rollins was interviewed backstage. It was revealed here that he will defend the title at TLC against Dean Ambrose.

Ronda Rousey defeated Charlotte Flair by DQ

WOW. Me and my friends were all very tired before this match started. By the time Rousey made her way to the back again, we were all wide awake and my throat hurt having screamed and shouted so loud at what we had witnessed. The match itself as expected had a real ‘big fight feel’ from the start. From the start it seemed to be more a brawl than a wrestling match and although not completely seemless at the start it almost seemed a part of it, given that you’re not going to have faultless wrestling moves as part of a fight. They did some really good stuff after the initial brawl and striking at the start. Charlotte seemed in charge for most, Rousey got her mouth busted open pretty bad via a stray elbow from Charlotte. The match was an excellent one bell to bell, one of the better women’s matches in WWE and certainly from the main roster women this year (the other 2 also involving Flair), which given it took place on only a few days notice involving 2 women who had never wrestled one another and one that only had her first match in April is all the more remarkable. The match as good as it was thought will only be remembered scarcely to what took place after. With Ronda on the outside of the ring Charlotte suddenly attacked her with a kendo strick for the DQ. And when I say attack I should’ve said brutalized, massacred maybe. She hit her so many times and when the first stick was in pieces she hit her with another. And then with Rousey in the ring Charlotte got a steel chair and attacked Ronda Rousey with that too! A whole load of referees came our to try and stop the shocking assault, but Charlotte just pushed them all away (she was in full evil mad face mode by this stage). She finished off by placing a chair around Ronda’s neck and stomping it on the floor. Charlotte made her exit looking like a psychopath. The crowd went absolutely crazy (as did everyone else who saw it unfold) and it was by a long way the biggest babyface pop of the show, despite it appearing to be a Charlotte heel turn. Crowd also chanted “Thank you Charlotte” as the post match beatdown took place and as Rousey (who was absolutely covered in cuts, scratches, grazes all over as well as her earlier bloody mouth and also a bloody ear) left to a chorus of boos and “you deserve it” as she looked devastated and mad at what had unfolded. There were also a huge number of “Becky” chants during this and the earlier women’s match. The match itself as I said was excellent. Ronda and Charlotte were both visibly moved as the crowd showed their appreciation. The babyface run of Charlotte, which looked to be suffering from being up against the ultra-popular Becky has been absolutely saved and then some. People have recently began to compare Charlotte to Roman as a babyfaced pushed strong against people more over than them and so are less liked as a result. They should have just let Roman brutalize people and the crowd would’ve loved it. They let Charlotte loose her and it was incredible. One of the best post match angles WWE have done for some time.

**** 1/2

Brock Lesnar defeated Daniel Bryan

As if what we had just seen wasn’t wild and shocking enough, we then had this match. Bryan came out to a fairly positive reaction, but stopped himself from doing the YES chants. He also did his ‘animal’ walk he has teased for a future match with Lesnar on an episode of Total Divas/Bellas a while ago which for those who knew was hilarious. Lesnar came out looking typically like a machine. The match began with Bryan playing mouse to Lesnar as the Cat, he would tease Brock almost to get him. And then unfolded all of our worst fears as Lesnar hit suplex after suplex after suplex and seemed to revel and take his time with it. Bryan was landing awfully too and really on his face and neck (which for obvious reasons given his history was particularly tough to watch). Lesnar even hit an F5 but lifted Bryan’s shoulders off the mat so he could continue the onslaught. Even Paul Heyman begged Brock to end it as he even had time to hold up his Universal title belt in celebration. He picked Bryan up for an F5 agaim but flung him mistakenly into the referee. And then Daniel Bryan began the most amazing of comebacks. With the ref down Bryan used the low blow he had used to win the title from AJ in the week and followed that up with his Running Knee finisher. The ref came bacm around and counted an incredibly close nearfall as the crowd were going wild. Bryan continued as the aggressor working Lesnar’s leg, and this would lead to Brock later collapsing as he tried to lift Bryan up for another F5. The WWE Champion took advantage by using both his Yes Lock submission and a triangle to try and make Lesnar tapped, which they definitely teased he may even more so than against Styles last year. They concluded what was a pretty breathtaking run of offence by Bryan with Lesnar hitting the F5 for the win. Lesnar went to the exit after but certainly wasn’t his usual self. Bryan laid in the ring with almost a smile on his face. This was the best Brock match for a long time, better than even vs AJ last year, better than the 4 way at Summerslam 2017. The story that was told was brilliantly clever playing off what people thought the match may be and then teased the dream shock result. Funny though that Bryan was super over during his comeback despite having just turned heel. But that seemed to be the theme of this show. A good night to be bad.

**** 3/4

My uncle always asks me after every WWE PPV if the show is worth buying on DVD. I think the best way to sum up this show is that I would absolutely recommend what was one of the more engaging WWE PPVs of the year. Fascinating and shocking throughout and lots of possibilities going forward. Given the outstanding quality of the NXT show on Saturday this has to be considered one of WWE’s better weekends for a long while.

Josh.

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