I’m giving WWE another chance tonight.
I mean, I’ve given WWE approximately 48 chances across my lifetime. I always end up crawling back to WWE at the end of the day. And I’m usually pretty happy after I do! I know it’s bad for me, but I just… I remember the good times, and I hope for the best.
My recent souring on WWE has come down to just… so many things that have all happened across such a short window. The AEW signings of Adam Cole and Bryan Danielson (having been someone who kept AEW on the periphery since its inception, I vowed I would start watching AEW if they signed both of those guys, and then… they did, and I found my integrity). The return of the Saudi shows that just make me feel unpleasant to watch. The absolute butchering of my previously beloved NXT. And the “budget cuts” in the era of unheard of profits. Including of KEITH GOD DAMN LEE. It just seems like it gets harder and harder to find it in my heart to want to support WWE as a corporation.
But I’m not here to bury the company. I recently (recently-ish? It was a year and a half ago, I guess, and GOD DAMN does time move fast now that I’m 40) wrote an article explaining how I still managed to love WWE. I still want WWE to do well. I want to want to watch WWE again. There are dozens and dozens of extremely talented and eminently lovable individuals who I want to enjoy. But since the Keith Lee batch of cuts, I haven’t found it in me to watch a minute of WWE programming.
I’m writing this preface to my review of this show to explain that if I am a bit more dour than usual, it’s because I have misplaced my joy in WWE. Or, rather, WWE has misplaced it for me. Maybe they wished it well in his future joy-deavors. I just want to clarify that this show may not be as bad as I rate it if I end up feeling snotty about something early in the event.
But as I’m re-reading this mini-rant? I worry that everyone has already skipped the entire article to hit the comments and start the “TONY KHAN PAYROLL” stuff.
I’ve erred! I have forgotten how the Internet works!
But still… the backspace key is so very far away. I’ll take my lumps!
But I do hope this show is quality. Don’t make me regret not just playing Pokemon Brilliant Diamond instead of watching this!
PRE-SHOW MATCH: Shinsuke Nakamura Vs Damien Priest
I don’t NORMALLY cover pre-show matches, but… come on. Nakamura vs Priest. That is a new, fun matchup. Even if the two secondary titles being reduced to the pre-show kind of perfectly describes WWE for the last…
Give Shinsuke credit: he sold his tuchas off for Priest. He made Priest really look like a beast, and despite the match being about 50/50 with each guy on offense, it felt like Priest was always destined to in because of Shin’s selling.
Priest didn’t win, though! He lost by disqualification when he got angry at Rick Boogs and smashed Shin with the guitar. I mean, sure. That protects both guys. WWE hasn’t seemed interested in protecting Nakamura in about four years, but okey dokey. Let’s do it now. That’s fine!
Post match, VINCE MCMAHON IS HERE!
With an egg from The Rock’s new movie, Red Notice.
Hey, remember Batista’s zombies from earlier this year? WWE loves them their Netflix props, I guess.
MATCH 1: Becky Lynch Vs Charlotte Flair
Oh, Red Notice Presents: Survivor Series. We are told Survivor Series and Red Notice have a lot in common.That is… foreboding.
(I didn’t actually hate Red Notice; it’s fine)
Hey, is WWE still trying to pretend Becky is a heel? How’s that working out for them?
Still the one thing WWE does and has always done undeniably well: big match hype videos. The pre-match buildup for this is pretty superb, giving you a whole history lesson on these two women.
Nice to see Becky Lynch bought her outfit for tonight from a dominatrix shop. This red sex vinyl outfit is… something. Even if the pointy knee guards on the boots are weirdly distracting. Is she going to put out Charlotte’s eye with a knee lift?
This match felt STIFF. I’m sure the build and all of the story about the relationship here helped that, but these women were throwing bombs at each other here. It also had the intensity that this match needed; this was by no means one of those “these two bitter rivals are going to LOCK UP!” affairs. Even the moments that didn’t come across as crisp or fluid just worked even better because it fit the story of both Becky and Flair being too blinded by rage to properly plan their attacks.
The match was genuinely outstanding, even if the ending felt weak. I get that it works for the story (and the fact that WWE doesn’t either of these women to lose definitively if they can help it), but it still… could have been better. I could have seen this higher in my Match Of The Year ratings until then. Oh well.
Great way to kick off the show, though; I’m not going to lie!
IF THE SHOW ENDED NOW: Not much to go on, but based on that? It would be a 9/10. I’m not counting the pre-show match, but can Survivor Series 2021 keep this up?
MATCH 2: Raw Vs Smackdown, Men’s Match
Hey, remember last year or two years ago or whenever when Seth Rollins fought with Kevin Owens, got himself into the match early on, and eliminated himself from Team Smackdown?
This match started with Kevin Owens fighting with Seth Rollins, got himself into the match early on, and eliminated himself from Team Raw.
I actually kind of hope this never ends. Rollins and KO, forever tied to the same brand at the same time, always on a Survivor Series team, never actually fighting back. The Annual Undermining.
Did you ever notice there are essentially three kinds of Survivor Series matches?
-The relatively even, competitive match
-The one man against the odds comeback (or just fall short)
We had #1 here. This bout went a good, long time to end with Seth as the sole survivor, and the action was pretty intense throughout. Now, you can say this just about every match on the card, but the lack of stakes was the biggest detriment here.
There was a weird final four here, with Seth and Austin Theory against Sheamus and Jeff Hardy. Sheamus and Seth, sure, but I didn’t see Austin and Jeff making it almost the whole contest. Unpredictability, always good!
IF THE SHOW ENDED NOW: Let’s call it 8/10. The first match was still fantastic, and the second was quite entertaining, harmed only by its meaninglessness.
Before the show moves on: Vince and his Cleopatra Egg meet with Roman Reigns. This is a REAL egg, though; not a movie prop. How did The Rock end up with it then?
MATCH 3: A Battle Royal, Sponsored By Pizza Hut?
Pizza Hut! It’s no worse than, like, the 15th best pizza chain restaurant!
A fun game to play will be to rewatch this battle royal at next year’s Survivor Series and see how many of these folks are still employed by WWE! I’m putting the Over/Under on 7.5 members of this match no longer being around in a year. What do you have?
Omos predictably won, and that’s fine for a nothing match. In his victory’s wake, the Street Profits absconded with the Pizza Hut pizza. So Omos even won the aftermath.
IF THE SHOW ENDED NOW: This battle royal wasn’t trash, but it did make the pointlessness of the night feel even more pronounced. We’ve had one excellent match, one very good match, and one okay battle royal, but with 0 combined consequences. 6.5/10 right now. I’m suddenly acutely aware that WWE needs to make Survivor Series relevant somehow, like when baseball made its All-Star game for home field advantage.
Raw has won every match so far if you don’t count the pre-show.
MATCH 4: The Usos Vs RK-Bro
If Riddle and Orton invited Edge into their team, they would be Rated RK-Bro!
And if they invited Christian to rejoin Edge in their gang, they would be Rated RK-Bro & Christian!
Raw moves to 4-0 in a match I never, ever, ever, ever, ever thought The Usos were going to win. Didn’t… didn’t we do this Raw Clean Sweep story a few years ago? Are we going to start getting stories about Fox being unhappy about this, I wonder? Although commentary isn’t talking about the record at all, so maybe I’m putting too much thought into a WWE show. It’s… it’s not hard.
Another really good match.
IF THE SHOW ENDED NOW: 6.5/10 sounds good still. The match quality remains high.
Vince is back with Adam Pearce and Sonya DeVille, and the egg is missing. I really hope this ends with Gal Gadot being #1 contender to Charlotte’s title. The skit ends with Vince, who is as concerned that his $100 million dollar egg is missing as he would be if he lost his favorite tie, openly announcing this mystery will be solved on Raw.
Yeah, that… that makes up for everything I mentioned in the opening. Totally gonna watch Raw now, fellas.
Big E vs Roman Reigns Raw Vs Smackdown, Women’s Match
Oops! I forgot this match existed. How late is this show going to run?
Why is Rhea in this match, but not Nikki ASH? Seems weird. Until you think about how much those belts have ever mattered, I suppose.
This match… was not pretty. And it seemed pretty haphazard. The increasingly popular #1 contender from Raw just innocuously goes out mid-match? Why? Shayna Baszler goes out to a nothing move? Huh?
Bianca wins in the classic aforementioned one [person] against the odds comeback. Not a great match, though.
IF THE SHOW ENDED NOW: Does 5.5/10 feel too low for a show that had Charlotte/Becky? Nothing since then has even close to equaled it.
MATCH 6: Roman Reigns Vs Big E
Was this just an ass-kicking? It felt like an ass-kicking. Big E was on the defensive and selling for virtually the entire match, and then he just… lost. I never thought E was going to win, but this felt like a thrashing, and possibly the worst match of Roman’s current title reign. There never felt like any drama ever really developed. Weird.
Kind of a down note for me. I really wanted to see both guys just hitting big man moves and smashing each other back and forth. I don’t feel like that’s what I got at all. It was slow, it was methodical, and then it was over.
Is it just because I was pissy that the Steelers were coming back on San Diego at the same time? I didn’t care for this.
Did this show get progressively worse as it went on, or was it just me? The best two matches were the first two matches. And one of those two was, in fact, glorious. But from the Pizza Hut Royal on, the show just lost focused.
When you combine a show that peaked very early and then just kind of meandered to the finish line with an entire card full of matches where none of the winners mattered at all. Based ENTIRELY on the strength of Lynch/Flair, we’ll put it above average, but… barely.