Survivor Series is one of the biggest shows on WWE’s annual calendar.
Chicago is one of the loudest and rowdiest cities any wrestling promotion can visit.
War Games is one of the most exciting and anticipated matches in the sport.
Randy Orton is set to make his return to the company after being gone for the last 18 months with what was rumored to be a potentially career-ending injury.
Oh, and there’s a good chunk of fans who feel CM Punk is going to make his shocking return to WWE after nearly a decade away.
This is going to be a wild night, with the potential to be something that is talked about for years to come. I’m excited for this, so let’s not waste any more time.
Bianca Belair, Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair & Shotzi vs Bayley, Iyo Sky, Kairi Sane & Asuka – Women’s War Games Match
When you look at the card, no match makes more sense for a show opener than this one. Good call.
Not that anybody should be surprised at this fact, but the Chicago crowd is LOUD so far.
One thing I’ve noticed about matches like this involving the women of WWE is that they don’t always seem comfortable using weapons. There are always awkward moments when it comes to setting up tables or stacks of chairs, or the usage of weapons for strikes. I think it’s just something you have to chalk up to them not wrestling matches like this. AEW women, for example, get those violent, bloody battles on television here and there, so at least there’s more experience when it comes to the hardcore style. It doesn’t always mean that WWE’s hardcore matches involving women are bad. Not even close, actually. It’s just worth pointing out that they don’t always seem comfortable in these situations.
This was a fun, crowd pleasing battle. A physical brawl that saw Charlotte, Becky, and Shotzi ending up with faces that are nicked and scratched, showing a bit of blood. It’s not a match that is going to be your choice for Match Of The Year or anything, but it gave the crowd a lot to enjoy. A funny side story was the Chicago fans wanting brutal weapons, only to have the members of Damage CTRL trolling them by grabbing trash cans and things like that instead. Asuka would lift the ring apron up, the crowd would cheer, then Asuka would pull out some kendo sticks, causing the crowd to boo, only for Asuka to go back under the ring apron to start the cycle all over again. 3.5 Stars, and we’re off to a good start.
Gunther vs The Miz – WWE Intercontinental Title Match
Gunther has the longest Intercontinental Title reign of all-time. Miz is vying to tie Chris Jericho’s record with nine Intercontinental Title reigns. Whether you think there’s a sliver of hope for Miz here or not, there is actually a good story being told here. In the world of kayfabe, you really are looking at two men who are competing to see who is the greatest Intercontinental Champion in history.
Credit where it’s due to both Miz and Gunther for the story being told, and the roles they’re playing. Chicago is a notorious “don’t tell me who to cheer for” city. They root for who they want to root for in wrestling. Gunther is precisely the type of heel that would get cheered in Chicago, especially when up against a face like The Miz, but instead, the crowd is firmly behind Miz.
This was another fun match, made even better by a red hot crowd. As I said, the fans were firmly behind Miz, and they went nuts for him. I know Miz has been a face before, but it’s still so strange to see the WWE Universe cheering for him. He does a good job portraying the underdog, and of course, Gunther is perfect as the final boss. 3.5 Stars
Dragon Lee vs Santos Escobar
Santos is very early on in this heel run, but man, he’s doing such a great job already. This is a big stage for him. However, it’s also a big stage for Dragon Lee, who is the latest in a long line of “the next Rey Mysterio” stars that pro wrestling has tried to push.
Oh, hey, another good match. With that said, this has followed the same blueprint that Dragon Lee’s recent matches on Smackdown have used. Really fun while it lasted, but it never quite kicked into the top gear because it wasn’t given enough time to do so. By my calculations, I’m not even sure the match went eight minutes. If you gave them 12-15 minutes, or Joe Pesci forbid, even more time, this could’ve been a blast. That would’ve been kind of short for a television match. Maybe this is me being slightly generous, but I’ll go with 3.25 Stars. I’m just disappointed that it didn’t get more time and more meat on the bone, so to speak.
On a positive note, though, Escobar got some loud “fuck you, Santos” chants tonight, so his heel turn continues to be a good idea.
Rhea Ripley vs Zoey Stark – WWE Women’s World Title Match
The champion does all the little things right to make herself look like an absolute star. Each time you see her, especially on pay-per-view, her ring gear, makeup, and hair are different, featuring tiny tweaks here and there. She looks like a million bucks, and I appreciate it.
Rhea is on the face side of the “boo/yay” chant battles, and there has been a loud “mami” chant. It seems like Chicago appreciates her just as much as I do.
Well, they can’t all be winners. While I wouldn’t say the match was bad, it wasn’t all that good, either. There didn’t appear to be too much chemistry between the two women, and Zoey Stark continues to get pushed without any sort of connection with live crowds. The Chicago fans made zero noise when she was on offense. A couple clunky moments here and there, but nothing terribly offensive. 2.75 Stars
Cody Rhodes, Seth Rollins, Sami Zayn, Jey Uso & Randy Orton vs Damian Priest, Finn Bálor, Dominik Mysterio, JD McDonagh & Drew McIntyre – Men’s War Games Match
WWE is having fun trolling people. They’ve seemingly spent a month or two dropping hints and teases on their programming about a possible CM Punk return tonight. Then, we get word that the company has ordered the wrestlers to stop the teases, and they die down for a bit. Randy Orton is named as the fifth member of Team Cody for this match, seemingly quieting down the Punk rumors.
Not so fast.
All night, we’ve been seeing backstage segments with the face squad being frantic because nobody has heard from Orton at all. We don’t know if he’s coming! Will the face team be down a man? Are they going to be forced to find a different… perhaps locally grown… partner instead?
Well, the match gets underway with no Orton to be seen, bringing on the loudest “C-M Punk” chants of the entire night. It is VERY interesting to note, however, that those chants were met with loud boos. I know it happened a bit in AEW after Punk left, but it’s really surreal to hear any sort of negative reaction for Punk in Chicago. It’s safe to assume he would still blow the roof off of the arena if he showed up, but I think the point stands.
Sorry, Chicago, but Randy Fucking Orton is here, and I believe the roof was blown off, anyway. Good Lord. The man looks like he has added some muscle weight, too. He looks great. I know this could count as a “spoiler” here, and I don’t usually like spoiling things in my reviews (for those of you who missed the show but don’t want it ruined because you’re planning on watching later), but you weren’t going to be able to avoid news as big as Randy Orton’s return to the company.
Fun stuff here, to the surprise of nobody. You just know Cody Rhodes is upset that he wasn’t able to pay homage to his father by bleeding buckets here. The match was plenty physical and hard-hitting without any blood, though. It’s really good to see Orton back. We’ll have to see what his schedule looks like, but there are plenty of directions he can go in after missing so much time. 4 Stars
OH, YOU THOUGHT WE WERE FINISHED?!?
As the winning squad celebrated in the ring, “Cult Of Personality” hit and the Chicago crowd lost their motherfucking minds as CM PUNK actually returned. He walked out, celebrated with some fans, and the show went off the air with the mystery hanging above everyone’s heads.
Jesus Herbert Christ, wrestling is crazy. A couple years ago, I was stunned to see Punk make his return to the business by signing with AEW. I never thought he would come back, but there he was. Now, two years later, I’m even more stunned to see Punk back in WWE. That’s something I couldn’t envision in my wildest dreams.
Love him or hate him, Punk is going to make WWE programming infinitely more interesting now. Unbelievable.