Survivor Series has often been looked at as the “worst” of the “Big Four” pay-per-views on the annual WWE calendar. It can be very difficult to compete with the Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, and SummerSlam.
WWE’s solution to that this year?
To this point, it has definitely helped to add interest and intrigue to Survivor Series this year. It has a fresh paint of coat, if you will. Will the show itself deliver? Let’s find out.
Bianca Belair, Becky Lynch, Asuka, Alexa Bliss & Mia Yim vs Bayley, Dakota Kai, Iyo Sky, Nikki Cross & Rhea Ripley – Women’s War Games Match
Pros: – Starting the show with this match. One, you might as well bookend the show with the War Games matches. That makes sense all by itself, but putting some of the most over acts on the roster out there right away only helps to get the crowd going. Only time will tell if the crowd can stay hot, though.
– Pace. While not a 1990’s WCW Cruiserweight match in pace, I like that there has been non-stop action so far. With this many people in the match at the same time, there’s bound to be times where several of them are just selling moves, but that also opens the door for times where several of them are brawling and beating the hell out of each other.
– Plunder. Before all ten women have even entered the match, there are multiple ladders in the ring, as well as a table, numerous kendo sticks, trash cans, and trash can lids.
– Rhea Ripley. She looks like a monster out there. She’s bigger, stronger (perhaps not stronger than Bianca), meaner, and nastier than anyone else in the two rings right now. As soon as she entered the match, she dominated just about everyone.
Cons: – Ugly botch from Iyo Sky. She had Bianca Belair seated in the corner and was going for… something… only to mess it up and nearly slip on the turnbuckle. So, she went for it again… and messed it up even worse, nearly falling over the top rope. Yikes.
Match Rating: 4 Stars. Tons of fun. Lots of brawling, and lots of weapon usage. Yes, it wasn’t a bloody battle like people want to see out of War Games, but those days are gone, me thinks. Counting the opening video package, the match entrances, and the match itself, this filled up the entire first hour of the show. This one did its job, and did it very well.
AJ Styles vs Finn Balor
Pros: – Damian Priest’s hair. He’s stuntin’ on these hoes with his silky, straightened hair. As one Twitter user said, that silk press did not come to play. Now he really and truly does look like Romance Novel Cover Undertaker.
– Stiff strikes. While the pace of the match hasn’t been as fast as I was expecting it to be, these two are really laying their shots in. Balor has welts and bruises all over his back, and AJ has been on the receiving end of some doozies, as well. (*Edit* Later in the match, AJ has marks all over his chest and face now, too.)
– AJ ending his pay-per-view losing streak. This is the first time AJ has been on the winning side of a pay-per-view match since Money In The Bank 2021, 16 months ago. The last time he won any sort of singles match on pay-per-view was at Super Showdown in February 2020, but that was only one part of a Gauntlet Match. His last official singles win on pay-per-view was at Crown Jewel 2019, which was a whopping 37 months ago. That’s a mind blowing stat.
Cons: – The crowd. It might just be because they’re still coming down after the opening match, but the Boston crowd has been relatively quiet to start this one. They didn’t really get into things until after Dominik Mysterio interfered and then got beaten up by Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson. Dom continues to draw some crazy heat, no matter what he does.
Match Rating: 3.5 Stars. It was a good match. As I said, it was a lot more of a physical battle than a fast-paced match, which probably surprises a lot of people. It was good, though. Not something that looked like it was designed to be a feud-ender, but it doesn’t have to be.
Ronda Rousey vs Shotzi – Smackdown Women’s Title Match
Pros: – The match wasn’t long. I guess there’s that.
Cons: – The crowd not caring. To be fair, they haven’t been given a reason to care yet, but you can tell they’re getting restless. They just started a “We want Sasha” chant. We are in Sasha’s hometown, after all, but these fans don’t seem to care about Shotzi getting a shot at this title.
– Shotzi’s leaping ability. It’s one thing to not have great “hops” in your athletic arsenal, but it’s another thing altogether to have negative hops. Shotzi jumps off of things and immediately begins sinking. It’s incredible.
Match Rating: 1.5 Stars. Yet another clunker in what seems like a long string of them for Ronda Rousey. Shotzi was absolutely, positively not the opponent that was going to bring a great one out of her. Smackdown is in DIRE need of Sasha Banks, Naomi, Charlotte Flair, Lita, Trish Stratus, Michelle McCool, Mandy Rose, Wendi Richter, Whoopi Goldberg, Jenna Ortega, Scarlett Johansson, Kamala Harris, Ivanka Trump… anything… anybody. I get that Triple H is a fan of both of these women, but Jesus Herbert Christ, let’s do something different.
Seth Rollins vs Bobby Lashley vs Austin Theory – Triple Threat Match for the United States Title
Pros: – Theory’s new aggressive side. The Triple H version of Theory continues to be miles better than the Vince McMahon version. That’s the character he needs to be moving forward, in an attempt to reach the potential he has shown for years now.
– Seth Rollins. He just performed approximately 178 dives to the outside in a row, taking out Lashley, then getting back in the ring to do one and take Theory out, then getting back in the ring to do one and take Lashley out, and so forth. He’s so much fun to watch.
– Double Hurt Lock. It didn’t last very long before it was broken up, but seeing Bobby Lashley put both Rollins and Theory in the Hurt Lock at the same time was a great visual.
– The finish. Rollins hits the Superplex on Theory, then rolls over into a Falcon Arrow attempt, but Lashley hits Rollins with a Spear. As Lashley’s momentum takes him away from the other two men, Theory falls on top of Rollins for the pin and the win, and we have a new champion. Nice, creative ending there.
Cons: – The crowd. If they’re not “singing” Seth’s entrance music at random points during the match, they’re being quiet. They’ve been pretty disappointing overall tonight.
Match Rating: 4 Stars. The only downside was the crowd, and even they picked things up a lot after I mentioned them being quiet. Lots of action here, and plenty of opportunities for all three men to shine. Rollins carried a lot of the heavy weight, as he should, but I dig the title change. Let’s see how this one works out for Theory with new management running things.
Sheamus, Butch, Ridge Holland, Drew McIntyre & Kevin Owens vs Roman Reigns, Solo Sikoa, Jimmy Uso, Jey Uso & Sami Zayn – Men’s War Games Match
Pros: – Big fight feel. That tends to be the case when Roman Reigns is involved, and WWE goes out of their way to make it so. Even before this one gets underway, there’s an excitement and a buzz in the air.
– A methodical pace that works. That isn’t always a good thing, but it really works here. These men hate each other, so they’re focusing more on throwing bombs and making everything count. I like it so far.
– Plunder. If you enjoyed the weapons in the women’s match, you’re enjoying the weapons in this match. No ladders (yet), but plenty of tables and chairs have been involved so far.
– Solo Sikoa. I tweeted that he is doing a perfect job of being a smaller tribute to his uncle, Umaga, and now, Corey Graves has mentioned as much on commentary. He’s so good at it, and he changed the game as soon as he entered the match. He has been mowing through his opponents left and right.
– Storytelling. Lord knows I’ve mentioned it a million times in my columns, but everything involving The Bloodline is a fantastic story right now. The latest part is Sami having to prove his allegiance to the group by taking Kevin Owens out, and it leads to the pin and the win for Jey Uso. The Bloodline win.
Cons: – The crowd. Broken record time, I know, but the crowd was pretty disappointing overall. Even when they got into this match, it didn’t last long. After the match, the crowd has the biggest pop of the entire match when Jey Uso embraces Sami Zayn.
Match Rating: 4.25 Stars. The “Sami has sold his soul” story is fucking incredible, and it continues on. Sami might not be an “honorary” Uce after that performance, saving the team on multiple occasions and leading them to victory.
Everything outside of the dumpster juice Ronda vs Shotzi match was really good. A super fun War Games match to start the show, and an even better one to close the show. I can’t ask for much more than that.