Day 066: A Whole Hour of Entrances [WWE Survivor Series Roundup]
Ah yes, the Survivor Series. My fifth favorite of the big 5 Pay-Per-Views. It’s the one time of the year that Raw and Smackdown wrestlers are not only encouraged to fight each other, they’re forced to. So in effect, we were gifted a bunch of low-stakes champ vs champ matches with little to no fanfare. It’s a cool thing if that’s your bag, but I’m all for the high leverage matches. I want to see a title match where the loser has to divorce his wife. I want a pink slip on a pole match. I want to live, damnit! Oh, why won’t the WWE let me live?!?
Because it’s the one day out of the year that they don’t let me.
Match 1: Men’s Survivor Series Match – AJ Styles,
Diddle Riddle, Keith Lee, Braun Strowman & Sheamus def “Main Event” Jey Uso, Kevin Owens, Otis, Seth Rollins & King Corbin
Survivor Series matches are known for being long. Like almost longer than you’re comfortable with a match being. But at least in traditional times, the entrants would come out together or in clumps. For the first match tonight, we were subjected to over 10 minutes of entrances. Triple H could’ve cut a promo in that time. Goldberg could’ve had his longest match ever. A lot of things could’ve happened. But instead, we watched big dudes walking slowly.
The match started with some decent spots. Otis did some awkward dance moves and Paul Heyman watched Jey Uso botch a couple of times. Kevin Owens has seemingly been waiting years to face Matt Riddle. He went straight for the bare feet, as if it was some secret plan that he’s been harboring for way too long. The fun ended quickly when Seth Rollins became a martyr for no reason and laid down for a pin. Otis was left in the match for far too long. He eventually tagged out to Kevin Owens, who came out guns ablazing, serving stunners like it was 1999. He was quickly blindsided, eliminated and before I even knew what was going on, King Corbin also got squashed. In no time, it was 5 on 2 and the match was seemingly going to be taken out of its mercy. After a minute of being humored, Strowman decimated Otis and we had Jey Uso against the entire USA Network. It ended quickly.
All in all, this match felt a little pointless. We were made to believe that team Raw was filled with dysfunction and in the end, they made a clean sweep. A match that was seemingly going to be booked as the mid-main event ended up happening first and lasting only slightly longer than the entrances. There were some good spots and it didn’t last long enough for the malaise to set in. But all in all, it was a match that merely “existed”.
Rating: 3 Characters Welcome out of 5
Match 2: The Street Profits def The New Day
The New Day [with special guest, Big E] came out dressed as characters in Gears of War, which ended up being an ad for, you guessed it, Gears of War. Although the attire was dope as fuck, I was much more impressed by the fact that the Street Profits finally discovered blue solo cups [unfortunately, the Thunderdome has not].
The match started with the large amount of smiling and posturing that you would expect from the two most loveable tag teams facing off for funsies. It also became quickly apparent that these guys could’ve used a little bit of work together. That’s the problem with inter-brand fighting. They spent a lot of the time seemingly out of synch. The bulk of the match was a bunch of methodical strong-arming with a smattering of shit talk. It was eventually redeemed by a good series of high spots, as the Street Profits pulled a blockbuster on Xavier Woods for the 1-2-3. In the end, we got the outcome we wanted out of two face teams fighting: they all seemingly had a good time and left the ring in an embrace.
Rating: 3.5 smokes out of 5
Match 3: Bobby Lashley def Sami Zayn
As we’re already well aware, it’s really hard to manufacture heat between two wrestlers that aren’t on the same program. But that didn’t stop Sami Zayn one bit:
This match was destined to be a squash from the booking. Sami Zayn has schemed, weaseled and cheated to keep his intercontinental title. Meanwhile, Bobby Lashley is being portrayed as unstoppable because he can do a full nelson. Don’t ask me, I’m as confused as you. Either way, it was a fun by-the-numbers squash. Sami spent a good amount of time trying to stay out of the ring and then getting in as much offense as he could before Bobby could open his eyes. He took some good blows before getting put in a full nelson in an economic match that would make Shane McMahon proud. The whole thing put a big smile on my face, which was the first time it had happened so far.
Rating: 4 full nelsons out of 5
Match 4: Sasha Banks def Asuka
Oh good. Another face vs face match. Thanks. Very cool. This one started out slow, as expected. A lot of lock exchanges, taunts and counters, very much up both of their alleys. These two are no strangers to each other, coming up together in NXT and it shows. With an exception to a few botches, it was a very fluid and even-keeled match. There were several near falls, countered finisher submissions and it ended in a flurry of roll-ups. This is what you want out of a champ vs champ match. Something that you know you can only see once a year and you actually look forward to it.
Rating: 4 blueprints out of 5
At this point, Rachel has painstakingly pointed out that she’s 4-0 on predictions. I rolled my eyes, looked up, and saw freshly crowned 24/7 champion Gobbedly Gooker getting pinned by Tazawa. He was promptly hit with a bag of bird seed, R-Truth got his title back for the 45th time and all is well in the universe.
Match 5: Women’s Survivor Series Match: Nia Jax, Shayna Baszler, Lacey Evans, Peyton Royce & Lana def Bayley, Bianca Belair, Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan & Natalya “The Boat” Neidhart
It seems almost cruel to put this match right after Sashuka. I had no doubt in my mind that I was in for some awful bullshit. I’ve been spoiled by great female wrestling in NXT to the point that every time I see Lacey Evans, I puke in my mouth a little. The only real storyline behind this match is that Nia Jax has put Lana through a table for 9 straight weeks. They’re on the same team. Welp. Maybe she’ll make it 10, I guess?
The match started with a lot of quick tags to keep it interesting. There were even some moments of actual teamwork, which was nice to see out of women that aren’t used to being in a tag scenario. That teamwork quickly ended when Nia Jax decided to chide Lana for no reason and the whole team joined in and brought her to tears while Bayley stood with her team and awkwardly chanted, “Smackdown! Smackdown! Smackdown!” It was so stupid, it felt like modern art.
Peyton Royce gave a pretty impressive performace. She suplexed Bayley into 7 other women fighting ringside and quickly finished her off. She then got quickly steamrolled by Tugboat, who failed to lock one submission and then changed it into a shitty half-sharpshooter that made The Rock’s look masterful. She quickly paid for her disservice to her family lineage, getting quickly eliminated by Lacey Evans. Nia Jax continued to play the part of immovable object, while everyone caught their breath and Lana continued to cry in the corner. This trend continued for way too long. Ruby Riott was seemingly drugged, Liv Morgan showed off her potty mouth and Bianca did her best to take on the tag champs on her own. In the end, Shayna Baszler got disqualified, followed by Nia and Bianca being counted out. The winner and sole survivor was…Lana. Who literally did nothing. So I guess that means she gets another trip to the table?
Nope. She doesn’t. Okay.
If you were to tell me that I’d enjoy this more than the men’s match, I’d assume that you are crazy or that the men’s match was a real letdown. Both assumptions are correct.
Rating: 3.5 unbroken tables out of 5
Match 6: Roman Reigns def Drew McIntyre
Roman Reign’s intro was long enough for me to stumble to the bathroom, pee, make a cocktail, wreck everyone and leave. At this point, 40% of the PPV has been entrances. Drew’s walk-up was just as long, filled with swords, kilts and lasers. And then they stared at each other for 5 minutes. Then they locked arms. And then they stared at each other again. Then an arm lock. Then more staring. This was the most buildup for a non-title, inter-brand match between 2 long haired bearded dudes that I had ever seen.
Roman Reigns has been doing nothing but squashing Jey Uso since August. It’s refreshing to see him pick on somebody his own size/skill set. But it played out much too typically. I could close my eyes and play the whole thing out in my head with 70% accuracy. Which I guess isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It follows the formula of the two biggest heavyweights squaring off. It was slow, yet efficient. Boring, yet captivating. It did what it needed to do. It was seemingly written by Aaron Sorkin.
I saw a film last night where someone said something along the lines of “Making a good movie is easy. But to make a great one is something else”. I feel like this rings true with wrestling. It’s easy to put these two together and have a good match. But maybe after more time, some more built up heat and higher stakes, they can make something great. That, unfortunately, is a match for another time. Either way, they built up to an amazing finish. Lana’s table even got broken. Roman speared Drew through the barricade and it still wasn’t enough keep him down. Eventually, a guillotine did the trick and Roman won via knockout. This may have been the best match of the night, but you know for damn sure that they’re going to do much better in the future. This is far from over and I can’t wait to see it play out.
Rating: 4.5 spears out of 5
Main Event: Father Time def The Undertaker
Nobody knew what was going to happen here. In fact, The Dead Man himself didn’t really know what was planned as of a few days ago. It’s been hyped for months that after 30 years in the WWE, The Undertaker would say his final goodbye. But what does that even mean? He’s always been a man of few words, why would that change now? Why wouldn’t they wait until after the pandemic, so that he could have a proper celebration in front of thousands of adoring fans?
Because, WWE. That’s why.
The spectacle started with dozens of his old friends and foes entering one-by-one. They even got the Godwins and Savio Vega to come, which was probably my biggest mark of the evening. After Kane came out in full garb, they cut to a video package/Metallica music video. Once that was over, they were gone. The ring was empty except for a rapidly aging Vince McMahon who struggled to get his words out. He introduced Taker, who slowly came out, said it was time to rest in peace and left.
I don’t know what I was hoping for, but it wasn’t that. The whole thing felt kind of hollow. All of his friends came out, only for them to leave immediately. He took time to soak in the cheering and chanting crowd, but that was fake piped-in audio. They tried their best to make a spectacle out of it, but in reality, he was just standing in an empty room with a hologram Paul Bearer.
And that was that. I enjoyed the event a bit more than I expected to. But I’m a sucker for high stakes and this event had none. Although it was nice to see Raw and Smackdown face off, it’s not anything that’s going to hold any water in the future. Clocking in at a whopping 3 and a half hours, you would think they didn’t skimp on content. That’s rather misleading as I went through the effort to add up all the time spent on entrances. It was 59:41, so almost a full hour of Jim Johnston’s greatest hits. On a night to honor The Undertaker, the king of long entrances, it seemed kind of fitting.
Final Rating: 3.5 urns out of 5