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What Survivor Series got so incredibly right

Holy shit.

That’s what I found myself saying, over and over, during the final two matches at last night’s (Sun., Nov. 18, 2018) Survivor Series pay-per-view (PPV) from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. Ronda Rousey and Charlotte Flair went out and tore the house down with a match that was far better than anyone could have reasonably expected, with a twist to it no one had any inkling of going in. Then, immediately after, Daniel Bryan showed us exactly why he’s waited so long for a match against Brock Lesnar, delivering an entirely unique but equally compelling main event.

They both worked for a number of reasons, not least of which is how different they felt from everything else on the show. WWE is about formula as much as anything, and while, say, Seth Rollins is incredibly talented and can do all kinds of incredible stuff in a pro wrestling ring, you generally know what you’re getting in a Seth Rollins match. That just isn’t the case with Rousey and Lesnar, which is a big part of what makes them so compelling. They will always need the right dance partner, however, and Charlotte and Bryan proved to be just that.

What really made all this work for me, though, was the fact that they didn’t just give us two outstanding matches worthy of a WrestleMania headlining spot, it’s that they both created anticipation for what’s to come.

I do not know what’s to come, but I do know Charlotte got her wings back, there are real question marks around Rousey and how she’s going to deal with a crowd that turned on her, and Bryan has turned a corner with a character who badly needed to do so. Watching him blast Lesnar with stiff shots, seemingly with no regard to what kind of legitimate danger that may put him in, was beyond refreshing. It was a straight up rebirth. The guy trying to carry Big Cass to passable PPV matches is gone, replaced by the wrestling genius he’s always been but simply wasn’t allowed to be.

For the first time in quite a while, there are hugely compelling characters and stories at the top of the card on both Raw and SmackDown, and we haven’t even mentioned the most compelling character on television over the past couple months, Becky Lynch.

Suddenly, the immediate future looks bright indeed.

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