WWE Survivor Series Recap and Review: The Best of the Best (But Actually):

The Deadman cometh for the last time ever (or until ratings get really, really bad)

While coronavirus cases around the country continue to rise, a bunch of old men gathered, maskless, in close proximity to shake hands, hug, and breath on each other for a good 10 minutes, like COVID’s wet dream. I am, of course, describing the Undertaker’s Final Farewell, which happened at last night’s Survivor Series. Despite unofficially retiring like 4 times now, WWE promised us this was the absolute last time we would see Taker, unless WrestleMania really needed that extra thin blue line. I didn’t watch wrestling in the 90s or 00s, so I understand my feelings about The Undertaker are very different from someone who grew up with him. Still, while I can appreciate the full circle of having him say goodbye at Survivor Series, it just felt like a very strange cap on what was actually an enjoyable PPV (and how rare is that.) This farewell might have been better suited to Raw or SmackDown, or even its own special on the Network for those extra views. Yeah, it was cool to see the Deadman, to hear the music, to experience hologram Paul Bearer. It was just a total and complete mood shift from what came before- which was some very impressive wrestling.

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Dual-Brand Battle Royal (Kickoff)

A stacked battle royal was our first official action of the night, and it wasn’t half bad, so long as you don’t look at Dolph Ziggler’s backwards hat for more than a minute. Dominick got the first elimination when he took out John Morrison. Kalisto and Rey Mysterio went back and forth until Alexander took out Kalisto and Ziggler eliminated Rey. Angel Garza and his handsome new haircut took out his cousin Carrillo, only to then be eliminated by The Hurt Business. In a quick sequence, Ricochet took out Alexander, Benjamin returned the favor, and Apollo Crews eliminated Benjamin to send The Hurt Business packing. Dominick scored a few more eliminations as Elias and Crew double teamed Miz, probably because he was the only one with the lack of fashion sense to rock a Raw t-shirt in this match. Our final four were Dominick, Miz, Chad Gable, and Jeff Hardy. Gable’s taken the Shorty G angle out back and shot it, only a year or so too late, so he’s real tough now. He eliminated Hardy, before Dominick attempted to take out Miz with a drop kick. Gable landed a series of suplexes, but couldn’t get Mysterio over the top rope. Dominick landed the 619 to eliminate Gable and win the battle royal- or did he? Miz, who never officially went over the top rope, ran back in and threw out Dom as he was celebrating. This was fine, mostly because it didn’t outstay its welcome, but the “thought I won, oh no, someone wasn’t eliminated” doesn’t land quite the same without a crowd, honestly.

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Men’s Survivor Series Elimination Match: Team Raw def. Team SmackDown

The men’s elimination match starting us off; nature is finally healing. Styles and Uso were up first, and Jey hit a big Samoan Drop, but he barely got a two count. Rollins tagged himself in against Sheamus, then went full Jesus and sacrificed himself to be eliminated. I can’t blame him, because I’ve had the same urge to ask a 6 foot man to kick me in the face at team building events. Team SmackDown scrambled to regroup, and Strowman took the opportunity to run all four men down. Otis and Lee then squared off for a minute, until KO tagged in and started stunning everyone in sight. Styles managed to cut him off with the Phenomenal Forearm to score the next elimination. Riddle then eliminated King Corbin, making things 5-2 for SmackDown. Rough time to be team blue. To fulfill your fix of large men literally throwing their weight around, Otis and Strowman knocked each other back and forth until Strowman hit a hugeboot. He landed a power slam to eliminate Otis, and poor Jey Uso found himself all alone. He started to clear house, landing super kicks on anything that moved. A huge dive over the top rope wiped out the whole team, but Uso missed a tag from Styles to Lee, and found himself caught in a Spirit Bomb as the last man eliminated. Team Raw won with a clean sweep, proving yet again that no matter how good SmackDown gets, it will never be more than the spare.

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SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Street Profits def. Raw Tag Team Champions The New Day

As expected, this was some excellent tag team wrestling. The New Day debuted incredible Gears of War outfits and a chainsaw trombone, which is such a good invention I can’t believe no ones thought of it before. They were met by a very serious Street Profits, whose pre-match promo drove home just how determined they were to prove this was their time. The New Day focused on Ford’s abdomen from the behinning, Woods landing kicks and even locking him in a submission as Kofi lounged on the apron with a solo cup. Nothing like some moral support from a good friend. After working Ford over for a while, the Profits made a comeback when Dawkins got the tag and cleaned house. The two hit a series of double teams, but couldn’t quite get the win. Even a sliced bread off Dawkins’ chest couldn’t keep Woods down. Kingston and Woods landed Midnight Hour, but Ford managed to kick out. He ducked Trouble in Paradise, then had the audacity hit the move himself in return. Montez got a splash on Kingston, but the damage to his ribs made him struggle to get into the cover, and Kofi kicked out. Dawkins got a sneaky tag off of Ford in the corner, then ran in and got Woods on his shoulders. Ford hit a blockbuster for the Street Profits to get the win, ending a fantastic overall match. Ford especially stood out here; not just in his incredible athleticism, but in how well he sold the Profits determination. Every kick out was meaningful, every near fall anguished him. I do feel bad for the day the Profits finally split up; “Dawkins” just might be synonymous with “Jannetty” in a decade.

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United States Champion Bobby Lashley def Intercontinental Champion Sami Zayn

Lashley came out accompanied by all 3 other members of The Hurt Business, which upset the solo Sami, similar to when you scroll through Instagram and see 8 people from your high school got engaged. He tried to run away early on, but Benjamin and Alexander blocked him in some gorgeous yellow ties until Lashley came in with a hit to the back. Lashley easily overpowered Zayn, landing a stalling suplex that Sami claimed gave him vertigo once again. As the ref checked on him, Sami used the opportunity to try and get a quick roll up, but Lashley easily kicked out. His next strategy was to try and get Alexander or Benjamin to hit him to cause a DQ, but the Hurt Business was on their best behavior tonight. After Benjamin prevented him from exposing the turnbuckle and cause him to miss the Helluva kick, Sami decided he’d had enough. He tried to retreat once more, but tripped over MVP’s foot on the ramp. He tried to claim interference, but MVP threw Sami back in the ring while the ref wasn’t looking, where Lashley quickly got him in The Hurt Lock for a two out. This was probably the low point of the night, but that’s actually a good thing, considering this wasn’t even that bad.

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SmackDown Women’s Champion Sasha Banks def. Raw Women’s Champion Asuka

This rocked, women’s wrestling forever, etc, etc. They started out on the mat, trading submissions and counters. Sasha almost got the Bank Statement, but Asuka was able to block it easily. It’s impressive how fluid these two are together; they just work together so incredibly well. I could watch this same match a dozen more times. Sasha hit a Backstabber, but Asuka kicked out and rolled to the outside. Things amped up with some tough strikes from Asuka, until Sasha got her in an octopus hold. The Empress had to back into the turnbuckle to break it, then fired back with a hip attack to send Banks to the outside. Sasha went for The Meteora off the barricade, but Asuka blocked with knees of her own, and both women were laid out. They just beat the count back in the ring, both selling the physicality of the match so far. It felt like a very hard fought contest, with each constantly aware of how high the stakes were if they lost. They traded pins rolling back and forth, until Asuka hit a knee strike that seemed to wipe Sasha out. As Asuka went in for another, Sasha caught her in a roll up and scored the 3 count. The finish may have felt a little anti climatic, but the match as a whole was a lot of fun. Great work as always from both women.

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Women’s Survivor Series Elimination Match: Team Raw def. Team SmackDown

Earlier in the night we saw Team Raw instruct Lana not to tag in under any circumstance. As expected, Lana tagged herself in early on, hitting a blind tag on Jax and taking it to Morgan with some quick kicks and covers. She almost got the pin on Natalya, but the rest of the team wasn’t impressed. Baszler and Jax instructed her to stand on the steps and not touch anything, like my grandma taking me to Tuesday Morning when I was 10. After some chaos in ring with everyone hitting everyone, Peyton superplexed Bayley into the group else on the outside, while Lana stood still and looked concerned. In a surprising move, Royce then eliminated Bayley with Deja Vu. Royce tapped to the Sharpshooter shortly after, evening the playing field. A Woman’s Right took out Natalya, and a Spanish Fly on Bianca from Lacey almost made Belair follow the BOAT backstage, but the Riott Squad broke things up. Baszler locked Riott in the Kirifuda clutch, but Ruby managed to fill over to pin Shayna’s shoulders. Jax distracted the official, causing him to miss the pin as Ruby passed out and Baszler easily covered her for the elimination. An intense Liv Morgan eliminated Lacey with a big crucifix bomb. A Samoan Drop from Jax took out Morgan in return, while Baszler grabbed Belair to keep her from breaking it up. Final girl Bianca was up against some tough competition, but she went after both gamely. She kicked out of a leg drop from Nia and countered the first attempt at the Kirifuda Clutch, only to find herself caught in it again. She powered to her feet and just barely made it to the ropes, forcing a break, but Baszler refused to let go, disqualifying her. Jax and Belair fought on the outside, ending with a Bianca throwing her over the barricade. The ref hit 10 just before Bianca reached the ring again, and she and Nia were both counted out, leaving Lana as the sole survivor and Raw as the winning team.

I don’t have much to think about Lana winning; I guess it’s sweet revenge over Jax and Baszler, but that whole storyline has fallen flatter than Lana’s hair. Belair and Morgan were the clear standouts for me here, both bringing a ton of intensity to everything they did. Belair especially got some great moments, managing to escape the Kirifuda Clutch and overpowering the bigger Jax. Having her just lose by a hair while Lana, who saw about 90 seconds of action, gets the feel good moment didn’t sit too great with me. Still, this was a lot more entertaining than the men’s elimination, but I really can’t be surprised by that.

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Universal Champion Roman Reigns def. WWE Champion Drew McIntyre

At the risk of sounding like I’m objectifying these two competitors, this was a huge match for anyone who likes looking at attractive men. Reigns controlled early on, backing McIntyre into the corner and waling on him. Drew fought out and tried for the Future Shock DDT, but Reigns easily cut him off. In a cool move, McIntyre caught a Superman Punch and turned it into a big spinebuster, but Roman kicked out. Roman talked some trash about how Drew would always stay #2, and ate a Glasgow Kiss for his words. Reigns answered with a kick, but McIntyre landed the Future Shock DDT for a very close 2.8 count. Roman cut off the Claymore with a Superman Punch, but McIntyre fought out of the Guillotine. After sending his opponent through a table, Reigns speared McIntyre into the barricade and dragged him back to the ring, and still Drew kicked out. That’s the power of the kilt! Roman prepared for a spear, but was caught in a Claymore. Reigns fell back and knocked out the ref, which means you know some shenanigans are about to go down. Jey Uso ran out to his cousin’s aid, while Roman hit a lot blow. McIntyre ate a super kick from Uso, then immediately got locked in the Guillotine. Drew was forced to his knees as a new ref ran down to call the match- I guess the first one was out of commission from a casual tumble. Reigns gave Jey a hug on the ramp, while McIntyre contemplated ordering another giant sword off of Etsy.

This was a really great, hard hitting match between two at the top of WWE right now. Leaps and bounds above their Mania 35 match. Two years ago, it would have been unimaginable to see Roman Reigns win with a drive down to dick kick city, but this persona lets Drew look strong while still giving Reigns the victory he deserves. Uso’s devotion to the family shows how far he’s come in the past month as well; that’s been a fantastic journey to watch as he rises alongside Reigns.