Survivor Series 2018 – review

With Survivor Series taking place in Los Angeles at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on November 18, 2018, Andrew and I once again team up to review it from two different perspectives. Andrew was in the building live and I watched from the comfort of my couch. So let’s take a look at the one night a year where Raw faces Smackdown (outside of the Royal Rumble, Crown Jewel, a bunch of different house shows, etc.).

Team SmackDown (The Usos (Jey Uso & Jimmy Uso), Sanity (Eric Young & Killian Dain), The New Day (Big E & Xavier Woods), Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson, and The Colóns (Epico Colón & Primo Colón)) vs. Team Raw (Bobby Roode & Chad Gable, The Revival (Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson), The B-Team (Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel), Lucha House Party (Lince Dorado, Kalisto, & Gran Metalik)), and The Ascension (Konnor & Viktor))

Andrew: I was really shocked by this. Going into the show, I thought this was going to be a throwaway match on the pre-show that wasn’t worth caring about. Instead, it turned out to be a match full of crazy moves that you’d usually only see on an independent wrestling show. There were several dive sequences and some huge spots throughout this. One move I really liked was Bobby Roode and Chad Gable’s Neckbreaker/Moonsault combo. I thought it was pretty awesome. Overall, this was a tremendous match. A lot of these guys don’t get a chance to showcase their skills, so it was great to see workers like Gable, Roode, Gallows, Anderson, and the Revival get time to shine. If you didn’t see this match, check out the Survivor Series Kickoff show just for this match.
Rating: ****1/4

Steve: I didn’t watch the pre-show, so therefore I missed this. I did enjoy WWE trying to pretend it didn’t happen the rest of the night however.

Team Raw (Mickie James, Nia Jax, Tamina, Bayley, & Sasha Banks) w/ Alexa Bliss vs. Team Smackdown (Naomi, Carmella, Sonya Deville, Asuka, & Mandy Rose)

Steve: The announcers made sure to repeatedly call Nia Jax “face breaker” in order to get that over as much as possible. Nia Jax had a ton of heat in this. Carmela was fun in this too. When Asuka and Banks were in the ring together the announcers played it up as a huge deal, but the booking has really neutered Asuka and it didn’t feel like anything special. For the most part this was fairly boring.
Rating: ** 1/2

Andrew: The most over person during this match was Becky Lynch, who didn’t even appear on the show. Aside from the Asuka vs. Sasha segment and Carmella’s dance break, there weren’t really any moments that were memorable. The biggest story of the match was Nia Jax making her first broadcast appearance after legitimately breaking Becky Lynch’s nose with a punch during the closing segment of last week’s episode of Monday Night Raw. Steve texted me during the show saying Nia was being called the “face breaker,” and it came off like Nia was playing it up to the crowd. The crowd hated Nia Jax. She had the most heat out of any performer on the show. Anytime she was in the ring or got involved, the fans would instantly boo. Whenever she would take offense, the fans cheered. Nia has become the antithesis of Hulk Hogan in the 80’s or Steve Austin in the 90’s.  The match itself was mostly forgettable I thought. Asuka and Sasha Banks had a fun sequence that the fans were really into. Besides that, this was bland. It wasn’t a bad match, but it wasn’t noteworthy.
Rating: **1/4

Seth Rollins vs. Shinsuke Nakamura 

Andrew: I’ve been disappointed in Shinsuke Nakamura’s PPV matches since he got called to the main WWE roster. Often times it feels like his matches are very watered down, but he had a good showing here. The first part of the match was pretty dull, as Shinsuke Nakamura worked over Seth Rollins to get heat. There wasn’t much action as Shinsuke Nakamura kept things basic. Eventually, the pace of the match picked up as it went on, and the match became more exciting when the action began to even out. Part of me feels like this would’ve been a lot better if it were five minutes shorter, but this was still pretty good.
Rating: ***1/4

Steve: So I guess the wrestlers have to wear their team shirts even for the singles matches. WWE either really wants to force that branding, which will be largely ignored for the next year, or they think so little of their audience they think people won’t remember who is on what brand. The match itself was pretty good. It started a little slow but built nicely. This was one of Nakamura’s better main roster matches.
Rating: *** 1/2

AOP (Akam & Rezar) w/ Drake Maverick vs. The Bar (Cesaro and Sheamus) w/ The Big Show

Steve:  The live audience was treated to Enzo going crazy in the audience while those of us at home were treated to the worst match on the show with Drake Maverick pissing his pants to end the match. This was terrible.
Rating: 1/2 *

Andrew: I’m not going to lie, I thought this match was overshadowed by two things: Drake Maverick pissing his pants, and the incident involving the performer formerly known as Enzo Amore trying to distract people as the match began. The match itself wasn’t bad, but the truth is the Enzo moment was the only memorable moment aside from the finish. Most of the people in my section seemed to be out if it too because of the Enzo incident, which caught so many people by surprise. Some didn’t know it was him for a few moments.
Rating: n/a

WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match: Buddy Murphy vs. Mustafa Ali

Andrew: This was a really solid match, and one of the best on the show. Most of the crowd was not into Buddy Murphy’s heat segment, as there wasn’t much action. It was still good, as it helped establish him as a monster heel. Once the pace began to pick up, the fans got really into this and began to chant “this is awesome.”. I rarely watch 205 Live as it feels like an episode of WWF Jakked/Metal. The booking of the show is really bland and does nothing to showcase the cruiserweight workers to the best of their abilities most of the time. With that said, there are matches like this that are a good showcase of what the guys from 205 Live can do. Mustafa Ali bumped like a madman, and Buddy Murphy had a really good performance. The Spanish Fly by Ali to Murphy off one of the commentary tables on to the floor was a really cool spot. Aside from the match on the Survivor Series Kickoff show, this was one of the best matches on the show up to this point.
Rating: ****

Steve: While nearly anything would be an improvement over the last match, this was the best match on the show to this point. I mean, it was good enough that I thought during it “maybe I should find time to watch 205 Live.”  They really recaptured the crowd following the previous match. I’ve always thought Mustafa Ali is great, and I’m glad he got a chance to shine here. Murphy looked fantastic as well. This match is worth checking out.
Rating: ****

Team Raw (Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntyre, Braun Strowman, Finn Balor, & Bobby Lashley) vs. Team Smackdown (The Miz, Shane McMahon, Rey Mysterio Jr., Samoa Joe, & Jeff Hardy)

Steve: Having Samoa Joe go out so early was dumb. It didn’t help McIntyre at all and only angered the fans. As it started I remember thinking “I bet Shane will be the last member of his team again.” I was right. This wasn’t terrible, but I didn’t think it was very good either.
Rating: ** 1/2

Andrew: To say the fans were upset over Joe being eliminated would be an understatement. They were chanting heavily for him during his entrance and were genuinely upset when he was eliminated so early by Drew McIntyre. I can understand if Drew McIntyre is being built up as the next top star, but to have Joe go out quickly was the wrong way to go as it didn’t sit well with the fans. It wasn’t good heat for the match, and it didn’t get Drew McIntyre over as a heel the way WWE was hoping for. Once Team Smackdown ganged up on Braun Strowman and Shane did an elbow drop from the top rope on Braun through a commentary table, the fans got back into it. Rey Mysterio was really over with the crowd, as was Jeff Hardy. The story overall was pretty solid, and the action in the match itself was really fun. This was a really good match overall and was really fun to watch live.
Rating: ***1/2

Ronda Rousey vs. Charlotte Flair

Andrew: The match itself wasn’t bad. I was disappointed that we didn’t get Becky Lynch vs. Ronda Rousey. I really like how Ronda uses judo techniques in her matches. A lot of what she’s learned translates really well into pro wrestling, which is why she’s done so good in WWE so far. Much like the women’s Survivor Series match, Becky Lynch was the most over person during this before Charlotte’s character development. I hesitate to call it a heel turn because the fans were legitimately cheering for Charlotte as she brutally attacked Ronda. WWE’s creative team really doesn’t get their audience. It was just like what happened with Becky Lynch where the creative team tried to turn someone heel, but the fans weren’t buying into it. I also thought the angle planted the seeds for a future Horsewomen vs. Horsewomen match. The match itself was fine, and there was good heat. It wasn’t as good as Ronda’s other matches, but this was still enjoyable.
Rating: ***

Steve: This match exposes a flaw in rating these matches. The match itself was good. It felt different from everything else on the show and had an intensity nothing before it had. It got a little sloppy, but that actually added to it as Rousey got a little bloody on a misplaced elbow. This was good and was still building to possibly something great, then the DQ happened. The stuff after the DQ was fantastic.  I don’t think it worked the way WWE wanted, as the crowd was cheering Flair the whole time and Rousey was getting booed as she was getting destroyed. Still, the badass Flair was great and what a way to setup a match in the future and possibly build to the eventual Horsewomen showdown.
Rating: **** 1/2 (for the whole segment)

Brock Lesnar vs. Daniel Bryan

Steve: Why turn Daniel Bryan heel, to face another heel, then have him work a face-in-peril match (outside of the low blow). Who is going to boo Daniel Bryan going forward? Whatever. As a match this was good. This was a dream match for a long time, but Lesnar matches have been fairly boring for awhile now. The start and finish to this match were pretty much like every other Brock Lesnar match of the last few years, but the middle was great.
Rating: *** 3/4

Andrew: Speaking of poor booking decisions by WWE, there was this match! Daniel Bryan, who just turned heel a few days ago, was going up against Brock Lesnar, a heel who most fans despise because of lack of appearances and matches. This was the sort of match that should’ve seen Daniel Bryan be a babyface underdog, so this suffered a bit because of that. Daniel Bryan started out the match playing a chicken-shit heel trying to draw heat from the crowd. Eventually, Brock Lesnar got his hands on Daniel Bryan and suplexed him multiple times. The crowd was really impatient with this, and some began to chant “this is bullshit” after several minutes. It also caused them to rally behind Daniel Bryan as the match went on. Daniel Bryan eventually mounted a comeback, and the fans began to believe he had a chance to beat Brock. Bad booking decisions aside, this match was much better than I expected it to be. While the crowd didn’t care for it, I thought Brock Lesnar tossing Daniel Bryan around was fun, and Daniel Bryan’s comeback was done well. Given the circumstances, this was a really good match and the best Brock Lesnar performance I’ve seen in years. Also, we’re so lucky to have Daniel Bryan back in the ring.
Rating: ****

Final Thoughts

Andrew: Aside from the NXT Takeover shows, WWE’s major events have been very disappointing this year. It seems like matches that could be great end up being major disappointments. Survivor Series 2018 though was a really good show full of fun matches and moments. Booking wise, there were a lot of questionable moments on the show such as Samoa Joe being eliminated early during the men’s Survivor Series match. Aside from stuff like that, this was still a very good show.  I thought the backstage segments involving R-Truth were pretty funny too. The matches were good overall, with the match from the Kickoff show being the best on the card. Lesnar/Daniel and Murphy/Ali were also standout matches. If you can’t watch the entire show, check out those three matches and the angle after the Charlotte/Ronda match.

Steve: There is so much good wrestling available I have found it harder and harder to sit through WWE’s often mediocre product, but this was one of their better pay-per-views of late. I thought the Rousey and Flair stuff was the best part of the show. The Rousey/Flair/Lynch stuff has been by far the most compelling stuff on WWE in a long time despite whatever direction the company has tried to take it in. Murphy versus Ali is also worth checking out from the show.

About the Author

Steve Bryant
Fan of Godzilla.

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