It was a “Big 4” Pay-Per-View week! Find out which matches from the Survivor Series made it onto this week’s list.
Roman Reigns was right to completely drag WWE Raw through the mud when he was confronted by Drew McIntyre on last week’s SmackDown. This show is pretty lifeless at the moment minus a world title scene I consider one of the most exciting. So lifeless that I would like to take some time here and give a big salute to Raw’s commentary team.
Samoa Joe has been a game-changer on this side of the action since making the jump from being an in-ring competitor. He puts things so eloquently, yet in a way the audience can relate to and he’s audibly having fun trying to make the action fun for the viewer.
The fun is not exclusive to Joe, because Byron Saxton is also trying his best to make himself a punching bag for Joe and Tom Phillips to go off of. He sets them up so well you can oftentimes hear the joy his partners get from making him sound a fool. A shout out to Phillips, the glue, for his fantastic voice and control of the direction in which the commentary goes. You combine all three and you have the greatest 3-man team in the company’s history.
Props go out to New Day and Hurt Business for putting on a show in their match.
RETRIBUTION won a match! You love to see it.
NXT was a fun show made very worthwhile by the second hour. Headlined by an awesome title match I’ll speak on further down this piece and Finn Bálor’s return, NXT felt like a slightly rejuvenated brand at the end of this show.
I’m excited about Leon Ruff’s progression. The way he put it himself — as he forced his way into Gragano and Priest’s beef despite being the holder of the belt they both want — made sure he won’t become an afterthought: “Everyone thinks I’m a joke, I’ll face both of them.” Aside from that, do you see the way he moves around in the ring? He’s spectacular.
Bálor, the NXT Champion, returned after weeks of rehabbing his fractured jaw but was interrupted by McAfee and his goons. The champ revealed to them that he didn’t come alone, and an extremely pissed off Undisputed Era also made their return, beating and chasing down their assailants. We knew what was coming, and even though it was delivered to us via social media, it was as perfect as ever.
While the UE and McAfee’s boys brawled all over the Capitol Wrestling Center, NXT GM William Regal was present to make the following announcement, “WAR GAMES.” This is going to be good.
Kay Lee Ray and Piper Niven had a brutal Falls Count Anywhere Match for the NXT UK Women’s Championship this week. I suggest you check it out. It was an absolutely loaded week so the relative brevity of this match kept it off the list but it is very much worth your time.
We’re almost done with the Mysterio/Rollins saga, hang on just a little longer.
Judging by her actions on SmackDown, there may be actual plans for Asuka’s return to prominence following Survivor Series. Her verbal altercation with Sasha was interrupted by Carmella, the presumptive next challenger for the women’s championship, and she watched on with an absence of any emotion while Carmella bullied Banks. Asuka lacking any kind of reaction is very unlike her, so we’ll see where that goes.
We might be headed toward Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan. This is all I’ve wanted out of life for the past five years. Bryan and Jey Uso had themselves another good match this week, too.
Do yourself a favor and watch Daniel Bryan on Talking Smack. I’ve waited for someone to point out that Paul Heyman’s confidence is low since aligning with Reigns, and he finally did. What a captivating promo.
Survivor Series was a decent show! The last three matches on the show surely made up for the underwhelming first half of the show. I appreciate the bold booking of the men’s 5-on-5. Team Raw dealt SmackDown a clean sweep; Jey Uso has been booked so well lately that, even for a second, I thought: “he’s going to do this isn’t he?”
I was wrong, they smoked him.
The Undertaker’s farewell was one of WWE’s greatest produced segments ever. The disadvantage of having no fans in attendance is overshadowed by the freedom WWE now has to fully integrate an arena into the entrance experience. Fire, lights, strange musical lightning structures(?); this entrance was classic Undertaker and then some.
WWE gets bonus points for finally making hologram Paul Bearer a reality. I’ve tried speaking hologram Paul Bearer into existence for years. It’s weird, I know.
I am very relieved The Fiend didn’t interrupt, or anyone for that matter. Following his performance at ‘Mania in the Boneyard Match, along with the aforementioned entrance he made to the ring, it would have been a shame if that went to waste because of his lack of restraint.
Happy trails to the Deadman, one of my favorites ever.
These were the best matches of the week:
5. Survivor Series: Sasha Banks vs. Asuka
These two. What started with seamless chain wrestling ended with seamless chain wrestling. No one bumps for their opponents better than Sasha Banks. She took a double-knee facebreaker while she hung on the middle rope and appeared to be broken in half. It wouldn’t be an Asuka and Sasha match without a risky spot that involved the area outside of the ring. Banks walked the edge of the barricade like a tightrope and attempted a Meteora but was caught midair by the Raw Women’s Champion with her first facebreaker of the match.
I thought the closing portion of the match was incredible. They went back and forth on pin attempts and reversals into pin attempts at a relentless pace. There was no hesitation in any of their movements. Sasha got the best of Asuka and finally beat her without the shenanigans that enveloped their feud in the summer alongside Bayley.
4. Survivor Series: Team Raw vs. Team SmackDown
Aside from the Samoan Drop onto the announcer’s desk for the last few months, the Lana storyline has not impressed. That took a turn with this match. I enjoyed this match because it felt like everyone involved “got their sh*t in,” or, was given a chance to make their mark. The shock of Bayley, the CAPTAIN of Team SmackDown, being the first to get eliminated set the tone of unpredictability, it delivered in that sense.
My favorite spot before the finish was Riott Squad’s rapid tags to take down Nia Jax. Shayna slept and eliminated Ruby Riott with a Kirifuda Clutch despite her effort to reverse it into a pin attempt, which was really clever. Bianca Belair was rightfully given a spotlight worthy of her talent and charisma as SmackDown’s sole survivor, and her elimination protected her while git gave us one of my favorite conclusions to a match this year. Lana was bullied into not involving herself in the match, which resulted in her being the last woman standing after Bianca and Nia were counted out. That’s hilarious.
3. Raw: Drew McIntyre vs. Randy Orton (c) for the WWE Championship
I love *big fight feel* and this match definitely had it. No such thing as “free TV” anymore unless you’re hoarding family and friends’ logins for their subscription services or are a strict antenna user, but world title matches on TV have a special air to them regardless. Enough rambling, the match was great. This was perhaps their best out of three big championship matches together.
This match featured callbacks to Drew’s fractured jaw sustained earlier in their feud, and the backslide Drew used to stun Orton and win at SummerSlam. The match became contested under no-disqualification rules after Orton tried weaseling his way out of defending his title, which opened the door for nasty table spots and chair shots, both were sold in ways that made the pain jump off the screen.
The match was typical Orton, paced slower than most, but thrived during its offensive spurts. Yet another Orton title reign cut relatively short, but it was totally worth it because of who he dropped the belt to. Drew McIntyre is still on the run of his career and he is more than worthy of becoming champion for the second time.
2. NXT: Io Shirai (c) vs. Rhea Ripley for the NXT Women’s Championship
The two best in the division were never going to disappoint. There are few cooler than Io and Rhea in the entire company, they both project as megastars and their ring work is on par with their superstardom. There was an interesting dynamic between them here, with Rhea acting almost heelish using her physical advantages over Io and bullying her but after only a few moments Shirai had become the vicious predator.
That’s great character versatility. The wrestling talent they showed was worthy of applause, of course. Fluid counters, stunning aerial attacks, throwing caution to the wind; this should all be expected of Io and Rhea but it’s still so impressive, and that’s a credit to their execution. The match was super physical too. Slow-motion replay revealed Io dropkicked Rhe RIGHT IN THE FACE, and at one point Rhea’s ear was bleeding. Madness.
The closing stretch was nothing short of fantastic. A groggy Rhea hung on to the middle rope on the apron, Io went through the ropes and connected on a sunset flip powerbomb that put Rhea through the announcer’s table. Rhea managed to crawl back into the ring to break the count, and — thanks to some stellar camera work (or, it was totally accidental) — the setup to Io’s moonsault from the top rope was beyond the perimeter of the camera’s lens. When Io flipped right onto Rhea’s back for the win, it seemed like it came from nowhere.
1. Survivor Series: Roman Reigns w/ Paul Heyman vs. Drew McIntyre
Though it took every trick to escape with a win, it was nice to see Roman Reigns be taken to his limit after months of gaslighting everyone around him. Roman’s character may have changed, but his willingness to give to his opponents hasn’t. I’m thinking of the way Reigns FLEW on an overhead suplex from McIntyre. Roman and Drew are two pure heavyweights who move with the ease of guys a hundred pounds lighter. It’s a spectacle to watch them reverse out of maneuvers and fly the way they did here.
This was a well-inspired bout between the actual #1 and #2 guys in the company, and they left it all out there. Roman paid tribute to WWE legend Nia Jax by dropping Drew on the announcer’s table twice and Speared him through the barricade, knocking down an entire wall of the structure surrounding the outside area of the ring.
One interesting detail from this match was Roman refusing to win via count-out, breaking the count to get Drew back in the ring. No matter how much of a bastard Reigns has become, he showed integrity in doing that. Only moments later, he hit Drew down low so don’t mind anything I just said about the truly despicable Roman Reigns. With both stars substantially improving since the last time they faced, they delivered the banger they were always capable of.