WWE hit the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada for its annual Survivor Series pay-per-view (PPV) last night (Sun., Nov. 20, 2016) with the promise that fantasy warfare would get real. It did, but there may be a lot of fans who would rather this be a fantasy. Thankfully, I'm not one of them.
Click here to get full results and the live blog. Let's get to reactions.
That just happened
The baddest man on the planet is almost 50 years old. This man can go 12 years without wrestling a single match, only ever stepping in a pro wrestling ring once or twice, and utterly decimate the very best WWE has to offer.
Goldberg used FOUR moves to dispatch Brock Lesnar last night. It was a legitimate squash match. Lesnar, the man who ended Undertaker's undefeated streak at WrestleMania, who hasn't suffered a clean loss in years, was reduced to jobber status in a main event match.
And I loved it.
I'm not even sure why. Objectively, it makes zero sense. The only reason to break the streak was to build a monster heel -- which they did -- so he could get the next big babyface over -- which, to be fair, they attempted but failed at. After that failure, they've just sort of been treading water with Lesnar, never willing to give anyone the big win over him but never actually attempting to build him up any further.
He was just sort of there.
And, let's be real, we're long past the time to rip the band-aid off and give him his first clean loss. In that sense, and for my own personal taste, a shocking turn of events like this speaks to the wrestling fan within me that just wants to be surprised enough to be taken in.
That's what happened.
The more I think about it, the more it makes me laugh. It's hilarious, really. All that time and energy spent with the idea of building the next big babyface and the guy who ultimately beat Lesnar was an old man who can't stand still without sweating profusely, and he did it with FOUR moves.
I can't wait to see what comes next. I feel like we might get a return to the Brock Lesnar who tears car doors off and throws them into the crowd, the guy who hits WWE cameramen with an F-5, then picks up the camera and gives it an F-5 too. Either way, I want to see where this goes.
The ultimate insanity
There was so much that happened in the men's Raw vs. SmackDown Live elimination match, and it was a great deal of fun, far more than it had any business being. It felt like it went over an hour and it was worth the time to take the ride.
So much good stuff happened.
- Braun Strowman was treated like the monster he is, taking an RKO into a table and a Shane O'Mac elbow to put him through it just to put him in position to be held back from getting in the ring to beat a 10 count. The guy doing the holding? The man Strowman made famous, James Ellsworth. He was quickly killed in some pizza boxes near the stage before Strowman took off to blow off his steam at a local Denny's, probably.
- Kevin Owens and AJ Styles had a great back-and-forth as the champions of the two brands and when Styles was getting the better of it, Owens snapped and used The List to attack him while Chris Jericho was the legal man. That got Owens disqualified. Then, Jericho noticed his precious list scattered everywhere and couldn't continue until reassembling it, which left him open for an RKO, which is how he was taken out. That's just good stuff.
- Shane McMahon sacrificed his body for a big spot where Roman Reigns would spear him in mid-air while he was going for the coast-to-coast. Moments like these are difficult to judge because the initial reaction is elation for such a crazy spot followed by dread and worry over Shane's health. He's too old to be doing stuff like this and here's to hoping this very spot showed them that.
- I'm a total hypocrite here because I've never been an advocate for a Shield reunion and think they overdo those spots, but they completely took me in with this one. Dean Ambrose, for the first time in a long time, actually acted like the unhinged character he's supposedly portraying, defying his brand in the name of attacking his worst enemy, consequences be damned. When security tried to hold him back, his former comrades, Reigns and Seth Rollins, had his back and -- to be fair, this helped their cause -- gave AJ Styles a triple powerbomb through a table and got him out shortly after.
- That left us with a (kind of but not really) Shield vs. (new) Wyatt Family showdown, with Luke Harper showing up to assist Orton and Wyatt. Reigns was taken out, leaving Rollins in the ring to fight off Orton and Bray, something he was doing okay with until a splash from the top was countered with an RKOOUTTANOWHERE to get him out.
- That left us with the classic babyface in peril situation, as Reigns was on his own against an entire family, even if only two of them were legal. He, too, put up one hell of a fight but they booked an actually interesting finish when Orton threw himself in front of Wyatt and took a spear. That left Bray open to put Reigns away with Sister Abigail to give SmackDown the victory.
All of this was incredibly well laid out and executed, and gave us a number of interesting future angles.
All the best to all the rest
Women's Survivor Series match: There's no way to cushion it and, really, we shouldn't. This was not a good match. The work was sloppy and everyone's timing was off. And there's something that felt wrong about Nikki Bella, the team captain, getting taken out of the match just before it went on in service of building a future feud with Natalya (that has to be it, right) and going against the ideal that this was all about brand competition. Otherwise, the match went about the way it should. Nia Jax was booked strong but kind of dumb, Sasha Banks was the surprise early elimination, Becky Lynch fought hard to the end, and Charlotte and Bayley survived to continue building to their inevitable title match. It was fine.
Tag team Survivor Series match: This was the match where they were just going to have fun with it and that's what they did. American Alpha were way over and look like they can be stars when used right while Sheamus and Cesaro were given the biggest storyline push. Considering what they've invested in it that makes sense but I continue to be totally uninspired by it. As usual, your mileage may vary.
Baron Corbin forever: There's something poetic about WWE booking a lumbering big man everyone hates to ruin a match rich with stakes on a cruiserweight division far too many fans pretend to care about and actually don't. Corbin against those very fans, embodied by SmackDown General Manager Daniel Bryan, is great fun.
The Miz & Maryse: Sami Zayn was a hero in Canada but he and Miz didn't do much with what they had here. The match was fine, the finish predictable if you've paid any attention to Miz and Maryse during this run. You won't remember this by tomorrow night.
Pre-show: More proof fans don't care much for the cruiserweights -- how they were treated in the six-man on the Kickoff show. Even at their best, in the past they were the hot opening act that helped create a more well rounded pro wrestling show but they were never the draw. The match was good enough for what it was, but let's not pretend it was anything other than a thrown together six-man to warm up the crowd for the stuff that sells. As for Kane and Luke Harper, there's nothing to say.
Final thought: The show ran too long but there was a lot of really fun pro wrestling on it.