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Survivor Series 2018: The Good, the Bad and the Weird

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What a rollercoaster of a night. There were certainly some high points, there were certainly some low points and there were some seriously questionable decisions in the PPV. The ultimate battle of the brands became a severely one-sided affair pretty early on and the divide only became wider as the show continued. It was definitely an odd show to say the least. But, was that a bad thing? Let’s find out now by performing the autopsy on the main roster’s half of this WWE PPV weekend.

The Good

Starting as We Mean to go on

The women’s 5v5 match started the main show and quickly showed the audience what most of the show was going to be like. It was a fast paced mess with quick surprise eliminations, some questionable alliances and the RAW team winning. The RAW women’s team got a buff as Bayley and Sasha were drafted to the team to replace a scrapping Ruby Riott and Natalya. They would prove vital additions to the team as they dealt a high proportion of the offense in the match.

Smackdown’s new captain Naomi got screwed over as Tamina took her out of the match within minutes only to then be instantly eliminated by Carmella. Mandy Rose would cause chaos for the Smackdown side by tagging herself in at will to show off, especially when it involved Sonya Deville. This bitter little feud would come into play when Rose stole a pinfall from Deville and saw Rose get tapped out by Banks with no help from her team. Eventually it was whittled down to Asuka vs Sasha and Nia Jax. Jax had been relatively quiet throughout the match until she cost Sasha by pushing her into the Asuka Lock and then pulverised an exhausted Asuka to claim a sole survivor win. It wasn’t the best booked match by any stretch but it was enjoyable enough. The biggest criticism is that it kills any momentum the Smackdown women had after their attack on the RAW roster last week. Taking that away this match is rated as good because it was an enjoyable enough opener and mostly everyone got to shine.

Nakamura and Rollins Burn it Down

Out of every match on the card, bar Ronda and Charlotte, this was probably the one to watch out for. The potential show stealer as it were. Put two superstars in a ring that have never fought before but are consistently good and watch them slug it out. That was exactly what we got and it was a hell of a lot of fun to watch.

Rollins and Nakamura started by trading mind games and insults but soon started striking out and hitting each other with everything they had. This was probably the best match Nakamura has had in recent months as it was given time to breath and he got to showcase the strong style everyone loves him for. He was crafty, enigmatic and brutal. Seth was no slouch either as he put all his effort into matching strikes and pulling all the moves out of his arsenal too.

Seth would eventually win the match with The Stomp after a fierce exchange of roll ups and near misses with Kinshasa knee strikes. Both men left it all in the ring and though Nakamura lost both men gave a subtle sign of respect to each other after the match was over. This is probably going to be the match everyone forgets about unfortunately as it was lost in the fold and overshadowed by the better matches further up the card.

A Cruiserweight Classic

It’s excellent to see that the cruiserweights are finally escaping the prison that is the Pre Show as it gives them a chance to show off just why they deserve their own show and their own belt. Buddy Murphy and Mustafa Ali gave that audience everything they could have offered and the audience eventually came to love it. Both men hit some big spots and elicited gasps from myself and the audience on multiple occasions. We saw a Spanish Fly onto the floor, dives to the outside and all sorts of other high-flying moves the cruiserweights are known for.

Murphy was looking to dominate with his power game and would often bully Ali with it. He would brutalise Ali around the ring and try everything in his power to keep the Heart of 205 Live down. This wouldn’t work as Ali would often mount comebacks and offensive flurries. The eventual finish saw Murphy hits a series of Powerbombs, reverses a comeback with a Knee strike and finishes Ali with Murphy’s Law. It’s a strong finish to one of the best matches of the night. It may have had no stakes in the RAW vs Smackdown fight and probably benefitted from this as it could just be itself. The cruiserweights once again proved they deserve to be included on the main show.

Another Hot Mess

The men’s 5v5 was the perfect example of a fun overbooked mess. It wasn’t all that coherent but it was definitely enjoyable. Once again it had an annoying surprise first elimination as Drew eliminated Joe in record time but soon picked up as the rule book seemed to fly out of the window and everyone went wild. Team Smackdown started going all out trying to get rid of RAW’s heavy hitter Braun Strowman. This may have helped team RAW though as Braun and the rest of his team could not get on the same page. Braun was taken out of the match by Shane putting him through an announce table with an Elbow Drop. Shane would become integral to this match as the Miz would often bring him in to hit moves and on two occasions hit a Coast to Coast, the second one showing he was clearly exhausted.

Team Smackdown would work well together but would only manage to eliminate two opponents, Finn Balor, which Drew took great aggravation from and Dolph Ziggler. The biggest number of eliminations however came from Braun Strowman who eliminated Jeff, Rey, Miz and Shane with Running Powerslams. He definitely proved he was a team player and should have earned the prizes Steph promised him. He was however sucker punched by Corbin after the match throwing further fuel on the fire between the two men and making the eventual moment that Corbin gets those hands all the sweeter.

The Cruel Queen

Now we move onto the undisputed match of the night. What was originally scheduled to be Ronda vs Becky saw the Queen step up to take the place of the newly injured Becky. Despite the change in competitors the match still delivered to the lofty standards set for it. Charlotte and Ronda put on a clinical masterclass as Charlotte tried to use a mix of technical experience and brutality to overcome the less experienced but no less experienced Rousey. Both women got their licks in and as the match went on, cracks started to show in the Queen’s façade. When she couldn’t bridge for the Figure 8 and nearly got caught in the Armbar multiple times the Queen fled to the outside and refused to come back in. Her arm was weakened and she had been struggling to overcome Rousey in the later stages of the match, despite her strong opening sprint that resulted in Ronda having a bloody mouth most of the match.

When Charlotte wouldn’t come back into the match, Ronda ran out to meet her only to be hit with a kendo stick. Charlotte was disqualified and the match was thrown out. What followed next were several minutes of unhinged cruelty as the Queen snapped and unleashed shot after shot with kendo sticks, leaving a multitude of welts up and down Rhonda’s body. She would also hit Rousey with a Natural Selection onto a chair and finish the brutal onslaught with a throat crushing chair strike as she trapped Ronda’s head within it and stomp. It was a violent way to send a message but it was received loud and clear. Charlotte has snapped and no one is safe. However it is hard not to imagine that somewhere Becky is sat smiling to herself at what has become of her former best friend. This was probably the exact message she wanted her replacement to send, victory or not.

Brock-ing the Mould

We’ve come to expect a certain type of match from Brock. It usually lasts under 5 minutes, is made of Suplexes and F5’s and the opponent is often left humiliated and broken. This time we didn’t get that and it is a positive unto itself. Daniel Bryan started by trying to get under the skin of Brock giving him the run around and stalling for time. This was soon shutdown by Brock and the usually list of Suplexes and F5’s were thrown before Bryan somehow started to comeback. Brock got too cocky after lifting Bryan up during a pin fall and during a second F5 he hit the ref. Bryan took advantage by hitting a Low Blow on Brock. The Beast was soon being punished as Bryan hit Running Knees, targeted shots to the knee and leg of Brock and even looked to be in control at certain points.

Unfortunately, all good things come to an end and Brock finished Bryan with a final F5. It wasn’t the most compelling match to watch by any means but at least Brock showed a little motivation and we got to see more of this new deranged heelish Bryan who seemed to be revelling in the anger he was causing Brock. He put up more of a fight than we are used to seeing Brock’s opponents have so that made a refreshing change.

The Bad

Tag Teams Treated Like Trash

Why was the tag team Survivor Series match on the pre-show? It wasn’t a very good match until it was the last four teams fighting but still it deserved to be spotlighted with the other Survivor Series tag matches. The whole match felt disrespectful as most of the teams involved in the early stages were made to look like idiots. The Colons and Sanity were further buried by WWE, Gallows and Anderson didn’t look much better and the RAW teams really gave anyone very little to care about at all.

The MVP’s of the match were the New Day, the Usos, Gable and Roode and the Revival. They put on a hell of a two team vs two team showcase that was unfortunately buried under the refuse that was the rest of the match. It should also be noted that this was the only win Smackdown Live got all show and it wasn’t even acknowledged on the main show. This match was treated as a joke and meant nothing to the overall scheme of the PPV. It may as well have not even happened.

Pissing Over a Good Match

There was no problem with the Bar losing to AOP. They just had to lose credibly. That was not the case as they lost because they were too busy laughing about the fact that Drake Maverick had apparently pissed himself after being choked by the big show. This in of itself may have not been a big deal but it was at the end of what had been an enjoyable tag team bout. It made the Bar look stupid and juvenile. This may seem nit-picky but it put a damper on the whole match as you realise the Smackdown Live Tag Team Champions could lose because they were too distracted by toilet humour. It isn’t a good look for the Bar.

Burying the Blue Brand

So ignoring the Pre Show Tag Bout, RAW had a clean sweep of the main show matches. Smackdown lost every match on Survivor Series. This seems like a joke at the expense of the Blue Brand since it is often considered the better show. The whole PPV felt like a self-congratulatory pat on the back to try and restore the broken faith in the flagship show. Again this may seem completely nit-picky but isn’t it bad booking to make an entire roster look bad?

The RAW men dominated with one member, or monster, taking out four out of five members of team Smackdown. Even though they had the greatest wrestler in the world Shane McMahon on their team, they couldn’t beat team RAW. The women had a closer match but still toppled the Blue brand and both Seth and Brock beat their counterpart champions. It’s hard not to take pity on Smackdown as Nakamura could have benefitted from a win and The Bar were basically made to look like immature bullies. It was not a good night for Smackdown and I imagine the questionable booking will leave a lot of fans arguing about the overall PPV quality.

The Weird

One Big Joke?

Going back to the booking of this show, is it possible this was all just a throwaway PPV? Despite being part of the original big four PPV’s of WWE, Survivor Series has seen both it’s relevance and interest slide as time goes on. Could we have possibly reached a point where this brand warfare angle is forced in our faces as the sole reason to even keep this PPV going? This may sound like mindless babble but look back at the show and think did anything of real merit happen at all? This felt like an excuse for RAW to go we’re better and to push the tiniest amount of story forward for Braun Strowman. Charlotte snapping was a nice addition and was probably one of the few big surprises to come from the show. The reason for this being in weird is this simple question, if Survivor Series is part of the big four, why not do more with it?

Leviathan Call Up?

Lars Sullivan video packages playing through a main roster show, anyone else smell a call up coming? This would actually be a really cool thing if it is true. What’s weird is why advertise it? The best types of call-ups are the surprise one’s no one sees coming. Then again we don’t know which show he’s going to if he is or if this was actually to hint at a call up at all. It’s just nice to speculate sometimes and who wouldn’t want to see Lars Sullivan appear on Smackdown, well other than the people who don’t like Lars Sullivan that is. The Blue Brand could use it’s own monster and Sullivan’s unique style of offense and intimidating yet eloquent persona would shake up their roster. Only time can give us any answer to this one but hey it should be cool whatever the packages meant.

In Conclusion

So this was a hard one to write about. This was a PPV of strong matches with bad booking. It must have been an exercise in frustration for any fan of Smackdown as they were ground into the dirt this time. While the booking will divide the WWE Universe, we should at least celebrate the fact the wrestling was mostly solid. Some of it may have been boring and slow but we still got something for our time. Charlotte snapping is reason enough to watch her match with Rousey. The cruiserweights took the time they had and once again tried to elevate the 205 Live brand and let’s not forget that even if we don’t like the results of them, those 5 on 5 matches are beautifully overbooked chaos.

We are now on the road to TLC where there should be some excitement to be had. Especially since the first announced match is Dean Ambrose vs Seth Rollins for the IC Title and Braun will now be free to hunt and hurt Corbin once again. RAW is going to be fun tomorrow.

John is a UK based wrestling obsessive who still wants to believe the Bullet Club is fine. He is always tearing the business apart and first realised wrestling was for him when he saw Mankind fall from the top of the cell at King of the Ring 1998.

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