Well here we are its back to Reviewing Main Events, starting with one of WWE’s traditional “Big Four” pay per view events of the year in the form of Survivor Series.
The original Survivor Series was created in 1987 as a way for WWE to mess with Jim Crockett Promotions, as they were holding Starrcade on the same day. JCP’s plan was to switch their show to a different timeslot so that fans could buy both events, but Vince McMahon then threatened to withhold WrestleMania IV from the pay per view companies if they showed JCP’s show, which led to a lot them refusing to carry Starrcade as a result.
Despite only existing as a way to mess with another company, WWE decided to keep the event going and it’s still around to this day. The early events started out with just Elimination Tag Team bouts, but as the years wore on they started adding normal match types as well, with the show eventually becoming more of a regular pay per view that had a token Survival match here or there.
This week we’ll be closing things off when we cover 2016 to 2020, after which I’ll move on to all of the NWA/WCW Starrcade shows before finally closing the book on the Main Event reviews.
WWE Survivor Series 2016
Brock Lesnar w/ Paul Heyman Vs Goldberg
Goldberg got the WWE 2K Video Game gig and that led to him wanting to wrestle again so that his son could see him in action for the first time. Brock ended up being the opponent and they worked in a good storyline for the match, with the idea being that Goldberg was the only man that Brock was never able to defeat, thus giving him a reason to want another crack at him. They have Brock bull Goldberg into the corner at first and then get cocky, which leads to Goldberg shoving him down. Brock remains cocky, but that proves to be his undoing as it allows Goldberg to plough through him with a big Spear. Brock sells that he injured his ribs as a result of that, which allows Goldberg to smack him with another Spear and then heave him up into the Jack Hammer for the improbable clean win in less than two minutes. Canada has hardly been a Goldberg stronghold, but even the Toronto crowd enjoyed that one!
Hey wow, WWE finally worked out how to book Goldberg properly and it only took them twelve years! I loved this at the time and I still love it now, as they gave Goldberg the big win but you could also say they gave Brock an out with the rib injury so that they could bring it back at Mania in 2017, which ended up being a fun collision also
Goldberg celebrates with his son in a nice moment.
WWE Survivor Series 2017
Team Raw: Kurt Angle, Braun Strowman, Finn Balor, Samoa Joe and Triple H
Team Smackdown: Shane McMahon, Randy Orton, Bobby Roode, Shinsuke Nakamura and John Cena
This was the usual Raw Vs Smackdown “Brand Dominance” match, with the added spice that then Raw General Manager Kurt Angle would be fired if his team lost. Everyone is forced to wear a Raw or Smackdown shirt here, which makes it look like a CZW Main Event from 2001 or something. I mean, I get that you want the teams to be colour coordinated and whatnot, but in that case why not actually give them a proper uniform to wear like a football team rather than just sticking them in a generic t-shirt? Get Nike to knock you up some unique gear for each side to wear or something, it’s not like you can’t afford it.
Triple H of course doesn’t have to wear the lame Raw shirt and just wears a Motorhead one instead. Roode was still kind of over at this stage in his main roster run. Nakamura was coming off a lousy feud with Jinder Mahal but the crowd still likes him and he’d go on to win the 2018 Royal Rumble before he lost the ability to speak English and developed the urging to keep boshing people in the knackers. Cena and Shane O Mac don’t have to wear the lame Smackdown shirts either, just so we know who the actual important people on the Smackdown Team are. There’s a healthy TNA influence going on in this one actually, with Angle, Joe and Roode all spending some time there at one stage, not to mention a strong NXT representation when you add in Nakamura and Finn.
There’s some good action in the opening sections, with the crowd being into a Finn and Nakamura segment especially. There’s actually a scattered “New Japan” chant at one stage, that kind of sounds like it gets muted out by a desperate sound guy. We also get to see Triple H going at it with Roode at one stage. Ah, Bobby Roode, for when you’re peckish but couldn’t manage a whole Triple H. Seeing Triple H going at it with his adopted son is heart breaking I must say, although I did get a kick out of seeing Roode give him the spine buster at the very least. Surprisingly they don’t go the cheap route on the eliminations either, with the first one coming when Strowman gets Nakamura with a Power Slam. They at least allowed Nakamura to destroy the Raw side single handed before the pin, so that he didn’t look too weak.
Shinsuke Nakamura Eliminated by Braun Strowman (1) – Power Slam
Roode gets a brief flurry on Strowman before getting Power Slammed also, thus giving Raw a 5-3 lead.
Bobby Roode Eliminated by Braun Strowman (2) – Power Slam
However, Raw chooses that moment to have an argument when Joe blind tags himself in, which gives Smackdown a chance to rally. I must say that I would have preferred one of Roode and Nakamura to last a bit longer rather than just positioning Orton and Cena as the main guys as per usual. The eliminated guys do at least get to do something before leaving, as they help the others suplex Strowman through the German announce table to take him out of the action for a bit. However, thanks to Joe’s blind tag earlier, Braun is no longer legal and cannot be counted out. Shane tries to add an elbow to the floor onto Strowman’s corpse, but Joe suplexes him back into the ring.
Shane tags out pretty quickly which gives us Joe Vs Cena, and it’s a decent little segment actually. I can see why people wanted them to have a proper singles match on a big show, as it probably would have been a decent enough outing. Joe gets the better of that, but Raw argue again, and that allows Cena to catch Joe with an F-U to send him to the showers.
Samoa Joe Eliminated by John Cena (1) – F-U
We get Angle Vs Cena for old times sake following Joe’s elimination, as this really should have been Angle’s retirement bout instead of the meh outing he had with Baron Corbin. It’s of course a slow motion version of their previous good matches, but its fine for a “Legends” match and Angle eventually eliminates Cena courtesy of a Balor assist.
John Cena Eliminated by Kurt Angle (1) – Olympic Slam
So Raw is 4-2 up now, and they annoy me by once again having one of the newbies be the next out. Balor gets to look good by running wild on the two Smackdown guys, but ends up eating an RKO, thus leaving us with all the veterans and the big monster. Yup, that sure sounds like a WWE show from 2017 alright!
Finn Balor Eliminated by Randy Orton (1) – RKO
Thus we have built to the big Shane O Mac hot tag spot (Just think about THAT) but he gets attacked by SteenErico before he can make the tag. Don’t worry though kids, he gets to make his own comeback with a chair, because “Shane McMahaon The Bad Ass” is a totally believable gimmick that we can all enjoy. Strowman chooses this moment to rise up from the table and tags in to Power Slam Orton.
Randy Orton Eliminated by Braun Strowman (3) – Power Slam
So Shane is now stuck in the Bam Bam 87 role, and let’s be generous and say that he doesn’t do as quite as good a job as Bammer did. What I love about this is that they CONTINUE the dissension amongst the Raw side, so not only have they rather easily handed Smackdown their collective arses, but they’ve also done it whilst squabbling throughout the entire match just to make Smackdown look especially lame. Shane gets some near falls on Angle, with a clearly physically broken down Angle still being able to carry him through it before going to the ankle lock. However, Triple H doesn’t like Angle and gives him a Pedigree so that Shane can pin him.
Kurt Angle Eliminated by Shane McMahon (1) – Triple H Pedigree
With Angle now eliminated, Triple H swiftly Pedigrees Shane and then gets the pin for himself, because it all has to be about him.
Shane McMahon Eliminated by Triple H (1) – Pedigree
SURVIVORS: BRAUN STROWMAN AND TRIPLE H
MOST ELIMINATIONS: BRAUN STROWMAN (3)
There were good bits in this, but I really didn’t like how it kind of jobified Smackdown by having them going against a disintegrating Raw side and STILL losing, with Triple H even spotting them a fall!
Strowman isn’t happy about that and beats Triple H up afterwards, which I don’t think went anywhere.
WWE Survivor Series 2018
Raw Champ: Brock Lesnar w/ Paul Heyman Vs Smackdown Champ: Daniel Bryan
This was originally supposed to be Brock taking on AJ Styles, but they decided to have Bryan go heel and beat AJ for the belt a week or so before the show happened, thus giving us this strange Heel Vs Heel encounter. Raw had already swept Smackdown prior to this, so Bryan is just wrestling for pride. I still never really got that, as it’s not like Smackdown rallied or anything particularly interesting came from it. They just got absolutely whomped and then life went on. It kind of made the whole “Brand Supremacy” thing feel even more hollow than usual when so little resulted from Smackdown getting so thoroughly and utterly embarrassed.
Bryan looks so happy to be finally getting a chance to work with Brock after really wanting to do it in 2014 and not getting the chance due to injury. Bryan is actually a darn great cocky heel in the early going, sticking and moving to throw Brock off his game plan. Few are talented enough to make this ridiculous size difference work with the smaller guy being a heel, but Bryan Danielson is a whole different type of cat. Brock does eventually get hold of him and takes him to Suplex City, with Bryan selling it all fantastically. Obviously this would have been better if Bryan was a gutsy babyface and Brock the monster heel, but this is still heaps of fun.
Paul Heyman selling in fear for Bryan whilst it all goes on even though his man is winning is another great little touch that really gets across the ferocity of Brock’s beat down. Bryan is fantastic doing the big glazed eye sell for it all, with the only bit I don’t like being Brock pulling Bryan up at two after an F-5, as it sends the message that Brock had essentially already won, which kind of buries Bryan. I’ve never cared for that spot in a match where two people are supposed to be equals. The ref gets momentarily bumped following that though, which allows Bryan to kick Brock right in the Sables before following up with the Busaiku Knee for a great near fall.
Bryan kicks away at Brock following that, essentially becoming babyface for a night, and the crowd is loving it, whilst Paul E is having a classic freak out at ringside. Bryan continues to keep bringing it and we get some more near falls, as the action has been great in this end stretch and it’s been living up to the promise that a match from these two would suggest. Bryan rams Brock’s leg into the ring post at one stage, which leads to a fantastic spot where Brock goes for the F-5 but his leg goes out and Bryan transitions to the LeBelle Lock for a great submission tease. Brock powers up into the F-5 though and that’s the finish.
WINNER: BROCK LESNAR
That was an absolute cracker, as they did a fantastic Big Vs Small styled match, with Bryan starting out as a cocky heel and ending up being the crowd favourite by the time they entered the closing stretch. Great work, fantastic selling from both men and an engaging story makes this one you should go out of your way to see
WWE Survivor Series 2019
Raw Champ: Becky Lynch Vs Smackdown Champ: Bayley Vs NXT Champ: Shayna Baszler
NXT got added to the whole “Brand Supremacy” thing when they ended up filling out a Smackdown taping due to the main roster guys all getting stuck on the tarmac in Saudi. Going into this one Raw had 1, whilst NXT had 3 and Smackdown had 2, meaning anything other than a Bayley win will see NXT crowned Champions. Champions of what? I dunno, but they’ll be Champions nonetheless.
They work hard in the early going, but it’s a bit sloppy in places, especially when Bayley appears to try and give Lynch a sunset flip into the turnbuckle and it ends up going awry. I’m not sure what they were trying there exactly, but I’m relatively confident in suggesting that it didn’t go how they wanted it to. Baszler looks good when she gets a chance to go all Vicious MMA Practitioner and Bayley gets to do some good heel antics by being the clear coward of the three. Lynch would appear to be the crowd favourite, and she mostly looks good, especially when the match calls for her to sell and make comebacks.
I think the match would have benefitted from being a straight singles match rather than the three way, as I don’t think Baszler is really cut out for this style of match and it would just generally be a better match to let Lynch work as a face against one of the two heels in a singles setting. I’m enjoying it overall though, as it’s fought at a quick pace and there’s some nice stuff in it. Some of the crowd chant “boring” and I don’t know what match they’re watching to be honest. Yeah, this hasn’t been a classic or anything, but it certainly hasn’t been boring.
The closing stretch is done well, with some good near falls, including Lynch giving Baszler a powerbomb for two and then going into the Dis-Arm-Her for the submission tease. Baszler uses the power of submissions skills to get out of that before getting dragged outside by a limping Bayley. Some of the three way spots are executed well near the end, with them being done tightly but also just managing to stop short of falling into the trap of looking too choreographed.
All three women fight outside, which sees Baszler fling Lynch onto one of the tables to take her out or proceedings. That leads to Bayley and Baszler going at it back inside, which may have been a mistake as they probably needed Lynch in the final two so as to give the crowd someone to root for. Bayley heads up for an elbow drop, but Baszler counters into the choke and that’s enough for the submission to give NXT the clear win on the night.
WINNER: SHAYNA BASZLER
This was okay, but the lack of crowd heat hurt it a bit and there were a few sections where it didn’t quite go how they wanted it to execution wise. Still, I didn’t hate it and giving Baszler the win was a good idea considering they were going with her as Lynch’s opponent at Mania in 2020
Speaking of Lynch, she attacks a gloating Baszler following the match, to lay the table for their eventual battle.
WWE Survivor Series 2020
Raw Champ: Drew McIntyre Vs Smackdown Champ: Roman Reigns w/ Paul Heyman
This is once again for “Brand Supremacy”, although this year WWE didn’t even seem that arsed about it as they haven’t even bothered to throw up a scoreboard. They dedicate most of the time in the pre-match video showing a recap of the Drew/Orton match, and they succeed in making it look suitably epic. They at least manage to get the illusive “Big Fight Feel” for this one, probably because these are amongst the few guys in the company that are actually presented as genuine stars in comparison to the chumps and chumpettes in the mid-card mire.
They work Heavyweight Style to start, going at a deliberate pace and basing the match story around the idea of them matching size and power with one another. Both men are very good at working that style of match and making it look believable, so it’s interesting to watch and it’s clear that they are trying to build gradually. It’s a style of match that you probably wouldn’t want to see everyone up and down the card working, but in the right environment like this it’s exceedingly effective and plays to two both men’s strengths, quite literally when the power element enters into the equation.
Eventually the two men start slugging it out, and that looks good, with Roman knocking Drew onto the apron and then flinging him into the ring post for the cut off. Drew comes up selling his left arm and shoulder following that, which gives Roman a bullseye to target back inside. Strangely though he settles on more generic offence to the upper body, even though they had a clear body part attack set up for them with that cut off and Drew’s excellent selling of it. What Roman is doing doesn’t look bad or anything, it just feels like a bit of a missed opportunity. As I write that, Roman does eventually go to chin/shoulder lock to work over the body part and Drew continues to sell it, so consider me shut up I guess.
Drew fights out of that and makes the comeback, and man is it impressive to see Drew flinging a guy Roman’s size around like that. Drew is a big beefy scary bloke, make no mistake! Roman shows he’s no slouch in the scary big bloke stakes either, heaving Drew up into moves like Samoan Drops with unnerving ease. Drew is obviously going up for him of course, but still, these are two insanely strong guys and this match has been structured well to show that off. We head into the closing stretch, with both men getting near falls and then brawling outside the ring as the intensity picks up. It’s all good action and they’ve built this match really well.
They’ve done a good job of making each man appear that they are on the other’s level, with both looking strong and resilient to keep surviving the bombs the other is throwing. Paul Heyman is of course great outside the ring too, selling whenever he thinks the contest is about to end and caressing the Smackdown belt like it’s his precious. There’s a fantastic counter at one stage where Drew turns a Spear into a Kimura Lock, which is something they have to program into the Video Games going forward. Roman makes the ropes to break the hold and then takes a page out of Nia Jax’s book by giving Drew a Samoan Drop through the announce table. Well, they are related I guess!
Drew gets up from that, so Roman gives him a Spear through the barricades before throwing him back in for two in a great near fall. Man, if they had fans in the building they’d be losing their minds right now! Spear follows, and Drew kicks out once again, as they look to be going for a “Well, Drew lost, BUT LOOK HOW MUCH HE KICKED OUT OF FIRST” story, which if you’re having Drew lose is probably the best way of doing it. Drew does manage to catch Roman with a Claymore Kick OUTTA NOWHERE, but the ref gets bumped in the process and Jey Uso runs down to cause a distraction. That allows Roman to clock Drew right in Advocaat’s before cinching in a Guillotine Choke for the win.
WINNER: ROMAN REIGNS
I didn’t love the ending, as they’d protected Drew enough with all the kick outs that he could have stood to eat a clean pin by the end, but I do appreciate them trying to protect him at least. The match itself was an excellent effort from both men, as they matched up really well from a stylistic perspective and worked a really entertaining Heavyweight Clash. I’ve always thought Roman’s in-ring work was unfairly maligned, and he showed again here that he can GO, whilst Drew has been busting his hump since leaving WWE for the first time and entered his usual strong performance
2018 and 2020 were both super matches and 2016 was also really fun in its own way, so I’d call that an easy thumbs up all together!
Hopefully I’ll see you all next week when we start with 1983 to 1988 of Starrcade!