WWE Survivor Series 2019
November 24, 2019
Hey, I’ve not watched a WWE PPV for quite some time. Or any WWE programming for that matter. Survivor Series is intriguing this year though. NXT are here to compete against the main roster. I’ve not been closely following the product so I may be caught out now and again. If there’s one thing wrestling has taught me over the years though; if you’re feeling a disconnect to the product just give it six months off and try it again.
We’re in Chicago, Illinois.
Team SmackDown (Sasha Banks, Lacey Evans, Nikki Cross, Carmella & Dana Brooke) vs. Team RAW (Charlotte Flair, Natalya, Asuka, Kairi Sane & Sarah Logan) vs. Team NXT (Rhea Ripley, Bianca Bellair, Io Shirai, Candice LaRae & Toni Storm)
I appreciate SD being colour coordinated so I can tell who’s on which team. I don’t like that it’s a triple threat match throughout, so there are always three women in the ring. It would have made more sense to keep it one on one with some weird tags.
For example Kairi vs. Io has Carmella/Brooke in the ring as well. Rhea Ripley’s arrival spices things up and they do a big break-down ending with Sasha standing tall. That’s unfortunately followed by Candice and Io going down injured and Rhea finds herself in the same situation as last night; two down. Nikki is first out; rolled up, illegally, by Bianca. Any attempt to make NXT the heels in this is completely tone deaf. Bianca getting rid of Logan helps establish her as the star of the match, which I appreciate. She’s been great for ages.
What stuns me is how dull and stilted the main roster feels compared to an NXT show. I mean, that’s been the case for a while but taking six months off amplifies that. Natural Selection gets rid of Carmella in a cool spot. Sasha pins Kairi. This is a really bad match. Asuka gets rid of Dana and gets into it with teammate Charlotte. The structure of this match is doing no one any favours at all. It’s designed to make Charlotte look like a star, which is something WWE have been beating into us for years already. Asuka mists Charlotte and leaves. And who pins Charlotte? Lacey fuckin Evans. Natalya rolls up Lacey. NXT now has a 3 on 1 on 1 advantage. Toni gets double submitted. Hart Attack eliminates Bianca. Good lord, this match is fucking awful.
Now Rhea is somehow left up against two others even though each team only has one member. Sasha turns on Nattie and she’s gone. Io and Candice are back. What? How dumb is the booking here? Why are they so incapable of booking anyone to look good? Io hits a missile dropkick and Rhea gets the pin. Almost undid all the hard work of yesterday in making Rhea look a star. Bianca came across better here until her lame elimination. This whole match was abysmally put together. Just bottom of the barrel creativity. Nobody got over, the finish was stupid and I hated every minute of this.
Final Rating: *
Video Control sees Seth Rollins challenge Kevin Owens for his allegiances. Owens reminds Seth he turned on the Shield so he can shut his stupid face. Hey, some long term continuity!
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Roderick Strong vs. AJ Styles
Sami Zayn dancing to Nakamura’s music is the best. This triple threat gimmick has already pissed me off and here we are with another slice. The good news is that there are less moving parts here. The bad news is everyone is a heel so there’s no one to route for and the crowd is dead. Even with less moving parts there are still issues with Roddy waiting for Nak noticeably on one spot. Strong ends up being the driving force of the match to drive home his Cardio Machine persona. At times the match is really good. Usually when they manage to shunt one guy to the side for a bit. It doesn’t even matter who it is. It’s just better as a singles. It’s also quite long, although the crowd get more into it the longer it goes. AJ decks Nakamura with the Phenomenal Forearm and Roddy steals the pin. This felt like a good house show main event.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Adam Cole (c) vs. Pete Dunne
It feels somewhat surreal that this is happening on a WWE PPV but here we are. A result of their mass talent-grab of the past three years.
Both guys come in hurt after the horrors of NXT last night. Dunne with a bad knee and Cole with injured ribs after taking that sick spot off the cage. Cole also has a cast on his right wrist, giving Pete a target, and he still goes after the wrong arm some of the time. Working the left is an instinct. Cole is one of those guys who’s really fluid and clean but not exciting in any way. Pete has to break out every showy thing he does just to make the match stand out and also while attempting to sell an injured body part. It’s a hell of a performance. Dunne at one point flipping off the buckles to set up a mid-air upside down superkick. They have to turn Pete into a flier to make the match good. Pete eats the Destroyer on the apron and another one when attempting the Bitter End. Last Shot finishes. The structuring here was great with both guys coming in hurt. They had Pete switch his game up to make the match more exciting and it worked.
Final Rating: ***3/4
WWE Universal Championship
The Fiend (c) vs. Daniel Bryan
This is actually the first Bray Wyatt match I’ve seen under this persona. They always wanted Wyatt to be this generation’s Undertaker and it’s taken quite a lot of time to get there because they’re incompetent when it comes to long term booking and investing in new talent.
The Fiend is contesting his matches under red lights, like Kane in his early days. It’s uhh…unsettling. It doesn’t cover for Wyatt’s shortcomings as a pro-wrestler. Bryan basically tries to work around Bray and to an extent it works. The trouble is with Wyatt who is very limited and not capable of working at this level. They still put together a decent match but my expectation for a big title match shouldn’t that it’s passable. Fiend wins with the Mandible Claw into a pin and Bryan carried this.
Final Rating: ***
Team RAW (Seth Rollins, Randy Orton, Kevin Owens, Drew McIntyre & Ricochet) vs. Team SmackDown (Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman, King Corbin, Mustafa Ali & “Shorty G”) vs. Team NXT (Tommaso Ciampa, WALTER, Matt Riddle, Keith Lee & Damian Priest)
It is surreal seeing people like Riddle and WALTER, who I’ve had conversations with, appear in the ring at Survivor Series. I mean shit, I had a chat with Drew years and years ago but the recency bias of how the wrestling world has changed staggers me sometimes. The last three years has been a wild ride. WALTER is bizarrely the first out, having had a great tussle with Braun, only to turn into the Claymore. The crowd are mad. They quickly recover to chant “Riddle” like Goldberg. People want that match WWE. He has a cracking sequence with Gable based on MMA switches. Owens is an interesting character. Given a choice between hitting a SD guy and an NXT guy he opts to eliminate Gable. Kevin looks reenergized by last night. Shame Ciampa pins him next.
RKO gets rid of Priest but Riddle rolls Orton up and gets the clean pin in the middle of the ring. If you need evidence that WWE knows Riddle is a star there it is. He eats an RKO while celebrating and Corbin pins him but he still got that pinfall on Orton. The NXT guys, and Owens, have basically driven this match and it’s not a surprise. Keith Lee gets put over huge in a sneaky spot where he stops Braun doing his run around the ring business. Braun actually gets counted out from that (and a Claymore but that doesn’t fit my narrative). Survivor Series has always been a fun show to debut people and put them in front of a bigger crowd. The men’s match flows way better than the women’s one thanks to superior planning. More often than not everything looks coherent and nothing is awkward. Corbin, principle idiot, costs SmackDown an elimination and that leads to internal dissention, which has been rare in this match. As we approach the end we get an emphasis on the big names; Rollins and Reigns. Roman even spears his own partner out in Corbin. Getting rid of his help because he feels he’s better off alone.
But he’s not alone. He and Seth effectively work as a team to eliminate Ciampa and that leaves them and Keith Lee as the final three. I’m glad Keith is getting his dues. He’s incredible and he gets to pin Seth clean here. Another huge win for an NXT guy. Are WWE finally getting it? You need to build fresh stars and in doing so you have to sacrifice your existing ones. Here it feels like Keith Lee vs. Roman Reigns is a big match. It’s unfortunate that NXT is up 3-1-1 so they can’t really win here but it feels like a big deal until Roman hits the Spear for the win. This was light years ahead of the women’s match. Better structure, better booking and almost all the NXT guys benefitted from being here. Only Priest, and to a lesser extent WALTER, suffered from the usual booking. Ciampa was fairly constantly strong and both Riddle and Lee scored big wins.
Final Rating: ****
Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Rey Mysterio
They have a good story here but it’s bizarre that we have a old man like Rey in this spot. I guess Brock couldn’t beat up someone’s kids unless he was getting on a bit.
I can’t believe we’re back in this position with Lesnar as champion again. Didn’t they already run that gimmick into the ground? Lesnar has such a reputation that challenging Lesnar could be a thing without the belt. Brock takes Rey quite lightly here. At one point stopping to tie up his boot laces.
Brock only perks up when he sees a chance to batter Dominic again. Poor uncoordinated Dom wants to be a pro wrestler but cripes he’s all over the place here. I don’t trust him to run across a ring in a straight line. Brock throws him around a bit and then hits the F5 to retain. This was all storyline with Lesnar treating this like a joke and as soon as he took it seriously it was over. Which I dig. He should squash Mysterio and he basically did.
Final Rating: *1/2
Becky Lynch vs. Bayley vs. Shayna Baszler
Bayley feels like an afterthought here to the point where she’s had to cut a promo where she refers to herself as an “afterthought”. The triple threat gimmick is really annoying at this point with me eager to see Becky vs. Baszler and instead having a third wheel in the way. There are some pretty severe timing issues and they’re all culpable. Basically triple threats are really hard and this doesn’t feel like a main event. Bayley isn’t a good heel and there’s too much of her in this. You can tell this match is a misfire because the crowd aimlessly start to chant “CM Punk”. It’s telling that a big women’s match without Charlotte or Sasha Banks (or Rousey) doesn’t feel important. For all of Lynch’s star power she can’t carry a big match. Baszler’s act is solid but doesn’t feel ready for this big spot. She does a good job of carrying her end but when Lynch is out of the match it feels flat. Hell, it feels flat when she’s in there and this has been a long show. Becky gets powerbombed onto the announce table and Shayna taps out Bayley with the Kirifuda Clutch. So they gave NXT the big win overall with four wins on the night, besting SD and RAW combined.
Final Rating: **1/4
A patchy show although they had some great high points with the men’s Survivor match and Cole vs. Dunne. It still falls into NXT’s shadow, despite NXT being all over this show. The main roster’s ability to structure complicated matches seems flawed and the women’s division isn’t the home run everyone seems to think it is. In spite of the myriad flaws here there was a lot to enjoy and I think I missed this promotion over the past five months or so. Dumb though they can be WWE are the market leader and if you’re ignoring it completely you’re not getting the full picture.