We've got a five-man announce booth tonight, with Cole, Graves, Booker, Tom, and Byron, so we've got two guys exclusive to each show, plus Corey Graves. I think it would have been better to have a completely neutral announce team of Mauro and Graves (and Nigel if you really need a third guy). That being said, at least the need for a fourth and fifth man to talk will reduce the amount of time Booker T is given to speak, which marks the first time in the history of his announcing career that Byron Saxton has ever been useful.
NEW DAY PROMO - This was a good promo, but I just wanted them to stop wasting tome and start wrestling. There was a TWO-HOUR pre-show before this. Why couldn't they have cut this promo then?
THE NEW DAY vs. THE SHIELD - 7.75/10
You know what would have been really awesome? If The Shield had come out in shirts that said F.U.N.D. a la Hogan's famous F.U.N.B. shirt. Not only would it have been a fun callback to another feud that split the roster in a promotion whose footage and IP WWE now own, but it also would have mean that we wouldn't have to look at those atrocious Shield/Raw Frankenshirts they're wearing.
The Shield won a very fun six-man tag. They did a good job of setting up or modifying their usual spots in ways that made this match feel bigger than normal.
STEPH GIVES THE RAW WOMEN A PEP-TALK - Why was this necessary? Actually, doesn't the fact that Steph feels the need to give these women an inspirational speech mean that they're not already inspired? And doesn't the fact they're not already inspired mean that they actually don't give a sh*t about this feud?
Anyway, instead of the actual wrestlers getting to cut promos, Stephane cut all of their promos for all of them, because it's Stephanie that is supposed to be the star. Also, rather than the standard Raw t-shirt, Stephanie was wearing a bright red dress... which means that I can't wait to see the ugly-ass blue suit they're have Shane in.
TEN-WOMAN ELIMINATION TAG TEAM MATCH:
Team Raw (Alicia Fox, Nia Jax, Sasha Banks, Bayley, & Asuka) vs. TEAM SMACKDOWN (Becky Lynch, Naomi, Carmella, Natalya, & Tamina) (w/Lana) - 6.5/10
Becky gets rolled up by Bayley for a surprise early elimination and the announcers are all saying "oh no! Smackdown lost their captain! What are they going to do now?" but at no point did any of them ever offer any sort of reason for why such a loss was so catastrophic. For why losing you captain might matter more than losing any of the other four women on the team. This is a perfect illustration of why the position of "team captain" bugs me so much whenever WWE does it, and especially in a situation like on Smackdown where the captain didn't even get to pick the team. Being a captain is just a meaningless label that WWE throws around and wants us to see as important even though they don't actually do anything to show us that it's important.
A few minutes later Bayley got eliminated via Superfly Splash from Tamina. Then we got Nia vs. Tamina, and anyone who says that they didn't mark out for this is lying to you. More stuff happened, including a bunch of confusion around Alicia Fox's elimination (which JoJo never announced, either). Those two were horrifically bad together. It eventually came down to Asuka vs. Nattie and Tamina but Asuka overcame the odds and beat them both to give Raw another win.
The match was fine for what it was and the booking was good (it was a way to put Asuka over big while not actually having her beat any of the women on Raw- i.e. without killing off any potential feuds for her in the immediate and even medium term future), but it really didn't feel important at all. And under normal circumstances that be fine because it's an undercard match, but with the way they've built all of this Raw vs. Smackdown stuff up, this match really should have felt more important than just a random undercard match.
BRYAN & STEPH BACKSTAGE - The same segment we've seen a million times with the friendly and totally scripted banter back and forth about who will win. You know... exactly the sort of thing that apparently gravely offended Shane when he and Kurt engaged in it twenty-seven days ago. And yet here are Steph and Bryan, who have more reason to dislike each other than Kurt and Shane do, trading this same banter and at no time did it seem like either of them was getting gravely offended. I really, truly, hope we're not going to get segments like this between every match. I am so sick and tired of this sh*t. On the bright side, they teased the idea of Shane getting injured in this match and being out for a long time, so at least that's a kayfabe possibility to look forward to.
BARON CORBIN vs. THE MIZ (w/the Miz-tourage) - 5.75/10
They showed promos that these two cut on each other on Twitter, and holy sh*t Miz came off like the biggest babyface in the world. Then they worked the match with the Bo & Axel interfering and Miz being a total heel... except then they they'd have Corbin be a dick in some way that would involve Maryse and Miz would be the fiery babyface... and then they'd just abandon that and go back to Miz being the heel. This really took away from the match to be because, especially after seeing the promos these guys cut, I really wanted to root for Miz, but they then structured a match that prevented me from doing that while also giving me no reason to want to root for Corbin. Corbin won the match and cut a good promo afterwards.
CHARLY CARUSO INTERVIEWS PAUL HEYMAN - Heyman cut a very meh promo on AJ.
SHEAMUS & CESARO vs. THE USOS - 8.5/10
This match was these two teams just doing their thing, which is being stuck in situations where WWE doesn't do anything effective to build their matches up but still going out there and having awesome matches anyway.
CHARLY CARUSO INTERVIEWS JASON JORDAN - He says that he is 100% healed, just like he promised he would. He says he is still going to root for Raw even though he is greatly disappointed that he's not going to be in the main event. Charly asks him about Triple H, and Jason says that he hopes that Hunter gets eliminated before Raw wins.
ALEXA BLISS! vs. CHARLOTTE FLAIR - 7.75/10
This was a vicious match! Lots of good character work by both women, they built up to their big spots well, and they had lots of good twists and turns. There was a lot of drama in this match, but it was hurt by the fact that if the total for the night is going to come down to the main event then it was obvious Alexa wasn't winning here because that would mean Brock was going to lose, which we all knew wouldn't happen.
AJ STYLES vs. BROCK LESNAR (w/Paul Heyman) - 7.75/10
During AJ's entrance, they showed an in-set promo from Jinder Mahal. Is there a reason they could have done this between matches so as to not make AJ look so unimportant that we were supposed to be focusing on someone else during his entrance?
This match was like the Cena vs. Brock match from SummerSlam 2014 except that the babyface actually got to make a full comeback this time. It's amazing how much drama you can add to a match by letting the second wrestler look competitive for more than twenty seconds at a time.
TEN-MAN ELIMINATION TAG TEAM MATCH IN WHICH IF RAW LOSES, KURT ANGLE WILL BE FIRED AS GM:
Team Raw (Kurt Angle, Samoa Joe, Finn Balor, Braun Strowman, & Triple H) vs. Team Smackdown (Shane McMahon, John Cena, Randy Orton, Shinsuke Nakamura, & Bobby Roode) - 2/10
Kurt Angle, who was trying to tell his son Jason Jordan that he couldn't be on the Survivor Series team because he didn't think he would be at 100% by the time the match started, came out with a giant bandage wrapped all around his thigh. What a hypocrite!
The match started off with Shane McMahon jumping Braun Strowman from behind like a coward, which I guess does reflect the story of this feud, so props to WWE for that. Shane's attack failed miserably and he got tossed all the way across the ring like the useless loser he is.
Then we got Samoa Joe facing off against Randy Orton for the first time ever! Then we almost for Balor vs. Orton for the first time ever but instead Nakamura was tagged in and was actually disappointed. Then we got Triple H vs. Nakamura. Then Triple H vs. Bobby Roode. Then Nakamura vs. Strowman and this was SOOOOO cool... and then Braun pinned Nakamura with one powerslam and Shinsuke was gone. Then he eliminated Roode soon afterwards, and the Smackdown team was down to Cena, Orton, and a McMahon, and a good chunk of my excitement completely evaporated.
Then Joe tagged himself in and that caused an argument between him and Braun, which led to an even dumber argument between Triple H and Kurt Angle over who got the be the peacekeeper and then Smackdown used this painfully forced dissension to take over the match.
Orton and Cena worked together against Strowman. Eventually they started to have some success, and were going to suplex him through one of the announcers' tables but they couldn't get him up, so the rest of Team Smackdown came out to help them- including the guys who were eliminated- and they suplexed him through the table, right in front of the referee. Why was there no DQ for this interference?
While the Raw team might have been getting screwed on the lack of DQ for interference, they did get lucky that then ref decided not to count Braun out, either. Instead he just let Joe come in and be the legal man. Joe and Balor then argue over a tag, which resulted in Cena nailed them both with some AAs and Joe getting pinned. So yeah. Between two important spots in the story where tags were required and it was very important to be the legal man, they did a spot where the making tags and being the legal man was absolutely irrelevant.
Kurt and Cena went for a while before Kurt pinned Cena with an Angle Slam. Then we got Balor and Orton going at it until Orton pinned Balor with an RKO... so we're now down to Randy Orton and Shane against Triple H and Kurt Angle, with Braun Strowman still down on the outside. We got some heat on Orton for a short while. He was almost able to make a hot tag but Owens and Zayn pulled him off the apron and beat him up. This happened right in front of the referee and yet there was no DQ. Shane then grabbed a chair and fought them both off (with a bit of help from a Randy Orton RKO on Owens). Then Braun pinned Strowman with a powerslam. Shane didn't break this up not because he was down selling, but rather because he was standing by the ramp with a chair just in case Zayn came back, I guess. What an idiot.
So now it's Braun Strowman, Kurt Angle, and Triple H against Shane McMahon, because Shane is the star of the show.
Then Hunter tagged himself in and Braun was pissed off, but... didn't argue it this time. Now Kurt tags himself in and argues with Hunter, and Shane used the distraction to take over. Kurt eventually got the Angle Lock but Super-Shane resisted it for what must have been at least a minute. Then idiot Triple decided to turn on Kurt by breaking up the submission, nailing Kurt with a Pedigree, and pulling Shane I'm top of him. Braun didn't try to break it up because either he doesn't care or he's afraid of Triple H, and neither of those things should be the case.
Hunter then proposed and alliance with Shane. Shane, being an idiot, believed him, and then got Pedigreed and pinned. Hunter celebrated and tried to include Braun in his celebration but Braun finally got angry about that thing from a few minutes ago and threated Hunter. The moment Braun turned his back Hunter attacked him but Braun fought him off and gave him some powerslams. What a mess.
This match had SOOOO much potential. The first eleven minutes of this were AWESOME, full big stars facing off for either the first time in many, many years, or the first time ever. But then, rather than just let them wrestle and have an awesome ten-man elimination tag team match, they had to go and ruin it with their big, overbooked story.
They wanted the real focus of this match to be on Shane, Kurt, and Hunter, so they had to get rid of everyone else. They wanted to protect Braun of course, which meant not only making sure he didn't get eliminated, but also making him look very strong by getting a few pins. Of course, they didn't want to give away any sort of finish that could hurt interest in any potential future Braun vs. Cena or Braun vs. Orton matches, and Shane had to be in at the end, so that meant that the guys getting sacrificed were Roode and Nakamura- the two men who are the newest additions to the main event scene on the main roster. This took away not only cool match-ups between them and the Raw guys, but also the two guys whose presence in this big main event felt most exciting. It made them- and especially Roode, who hasn't quite been established as a main eventer yet- feel like they didn't belong in the same league as the others. Rather than being given the time to shine, they were made to feel like they were just in the match to get pinned.
Then they needed to get rid of Braun but didn't want to actually beat him, so they did the big table spot, and just to protect him even more they had it take five guys to put him through the table... and by doing so, they had the Smackdown guys cheat in a match where they are trying to prove that they deserve to be seen as Raw's equal (if not superior)... so how the hell does this team made up entirely of babyfaces think cheating is going to make people respect them?
Then we had to get rid of Balor and Joe because the match isn't supposed to be about them. They went back to the well with the guys arguing over the tag, which was even more petty than last month's Kane vs. Braun fight because at least of them actually hit the other to set that up. Joe was eliminated by Cena to get him out of there and Balor was eliminated by Orton. Much like Roode's elimination, having WWE's two poster-boys of the past fifteen years eliminate these newcomers felt like a statement that Joe and Balor are not at the level that Cena and Orton are at, and WWE's goal should be to do the opposite of that and make us think that they are. They could have at least let Balor be the one to pin Cena instead of Angle so that he could have gotten something out of this match before being eliminated. Braun came back and eliminated Randy, then Hunter tagged himself in, sending Braun to the outside so that the match could come down to the three people the story WWE wanted to tell really required: Hunter, Kurt, and Shane.
And that is really the biggest issue here. This match was about two things. The first was the valiant bravery of Shane McMahon, who, despite losing, had to overcome traitors in his midst, survive forever in the dreaded Angle Lock, and then somehow managed to get turned on by a guy on the opposite team, all so he can go back to Smackdown and talk about how his loss really isn't his fault because other people caused him to lose, because they have decided that he needs to save face somehow.
The other thing that this match was about- and this one is really the main thing- is setting up a Triple H vs. Kurt Angle match at WrestleMania. But that's not what it was supposed to be about. This was supposed to be about Raw vs. Smackdown and "brand loyalty" and should have come down to Shane fighting for respect while Kurt is fighting for his job- proving their worth, if not as wrestlers then as strategists and talent scouts and leaders. But the match didn't come down to any of that. WWE has spent almost every single moment of the past month building up the question of "which brand is better?" and here, tonight, at Survivor Series, they told us that the answer to the question of "which is better: Raw or Smackdown?" turns out to be "Triple H vs. Kurt Angle at WrestleMania." And because, as we were told approximately once every five minutes on every show for the past four weeks, "Survivor Series is the only time of year when Superstars from Raw and Smackdown face off in head-to-head competition," we're never going to find out which brand is better, and thus this entire month has been a waste of time.
This was good show from WWE until the main event ruined it. I had hoped for a bit more out of some of the match (particularly AJ vs. Brock and New Day vs. Shield) but Alexa vs. Charlotte over-delivered, and pretty much everything on the main show other than the main event was great. But it's the main event that really feels like it matters because that is the only piece of news coming out of this show. I'm just happy that all of this Raw vs. Smackdown bullsh*t is finally over.
STUPID ANNOUNCER QUOTES
1. Michael Cole- "If a brawl starts, you've to give it to The New Day."
Against The Shield? Are you kidding me, Cole? The Shield made their careers in brawls, and even now, after three years apart, both Dean and Roman definitely ball more into the brawling style than any other style, where as absolutely none of the members of New Day would ever be described as someone who uses brawling as a primary style.