Ladies and gentlemen of Cageside Seats, welcome to WWE’s last big event of the year, Survivor Series! I’m your co-host so make sure to read my compadre Claire’s always thorough blog.
Let’s sort out who survives, who doesn't, and whether “brand supremacy” is a thing worth fighting for anymore.
Anything You Can Do...
Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair fought. Sure, wrestling moves were involved, but this was, to quote a wrestling great, a pier 6 brawl. Neither woman wanted to simply beat their opponent. After all, one does not simply walk into Brooklyn with that much hate in their heart and goes for a simple 1-2-3. Becky and Charlotte traded slaps, moves, and insults. Charlotte screaming “tap b*tch!” was the line of the match for me.
wrestling sports entertainment matches feel real, they hit a sweet spot. Every move was designed to get into the heads of the opponent. Why else would Becky put Charlotte in a semi-Figure Four? Why in the world would Charlotte put Becky in a Disarm-Her? Adding insult to injury is always the name of the game when said game is against someone you don’t like. Charlotte and Becky, either in real life or kayfabe or both, really don’t like each other and their fight evolved into a battle of “anything you can do, I can do better.”
In the end, Becky one upped Charlotte and beat her at her own game: cheating. It’s a great way to remind everyone both women are still heels, despite the nature of this particular feud and the reaction of the crowd. Charlotte might be stronger than Becky, but she’s not smarter. And if there’s one thing defining this iteration of Big Time Becks, it’s her intelligence. For Charlotte, being the best means overpowering your opponent. For Becky? It means catching them off guard in that one split second and asserting your brain power over theirs.
On this night, Becky was the smarter woman of the two because she didn’t get caught with her hand in the cookie jar.
Is it a “satisfying” ending in the way we’re accustomed to? Nope. But it’s the right ending for the story, the competitors involved, and the smartest way to harken back to who these women are at their core.
Master and Ruler of the Universe
As always in wrestling, simple storytelling is the best storytelling. Roman Reigns is the mafia boss WWE Universal Champion who disrespected Big E’s brothers. Big E is the WWE Champion out to avenge his family. Winning is cool, but he wanted payback and to prove Roman isn’t as untouchable as he believes. With the added wrinkle that Brock Lesnar’s massive shadow might loom over Roman’s reign once more, one can see how the Tribal Chief might overlook his very worthy opponent.
And for a minute, it definitely looked that way.
E survived an onslaught from Reigns. He took the champ’s best moves and kept coming back. Not even three Superman punches in succession finished the job, to the surprise of Reigns and the audience. E was possessed with defending the honor of his New Day brethren and he came really close to doing so. Earlier in the match, however, E missed a signature spot and injured his knee on the ring apron. As the match went on and E found his momentum, I wondered if that knee might play a part in the ending, because it was kinda forgotten about. Then it happened.
For a split second, E let up in his assault on the Tribal Chief to stop the ref’s 10 count. Doesn’t it suck when technicalities slow down someone’s momentum? That was just enough time for Roman to regain his composure, reverse an Irish whip into the steel steps—the same switcheroo E pulled on him earlier in a very similar spot—and banged his knee again. The WWE champ tried to get back to his feet but he needed the barricade for support.
Like any good shark worth their weight, Roman smelled blood in the territorial waters near his island of relevancy. E almost put it away with another Big Ending, but Roman wiggled out of E’s clutches, took a shot to the back of E’s injured knee, hit a spear, and sent the fans home crying in their Booty-O’s.
There are two matches that felt important with something truly meaningful hanging in the balance. And they both bookended Survivor Series. When/if Roman and E tango again, it should be very cool because this showed there’s a lot of story to tell with these two and they can make magic together.
RKO Fair Catch
Randy Orton celebrated his own history at Survivor Series. He is now the WWE wrestler with the most PPV matches in the history of the company. That’s incredible when you think about the names who walked through those Stamford doors.
RK-Bro outlasted Jimmy x Jey Uso because they forgot about Orton. Jimmy went for a splash on the wrong opponent and ate an RKO as he crashed to the ground.
An okay tag match with appropriate finish for a man celebrating, It also ensured Raw won the night regardless of what happened in the last two matches. If there were any stakes involved, that would mean something.
Seth Rollins, the man who once ironically called himself “the captain” actually lead an actual team to victory. And in typical Seth fashion, he was the sole survivor. The victory was even more impressive since Raw started shorthanded when Kevin Owens showed up and then turned his back on everyone before the match started. Good character moment for the man who vowed to show his true colors at Survivor Series. According to every Western ever, that color is yellow.
Bobby Lashley and Drew McIntyre continued their beef and got the dreaded double DQ, while Jeff and Sheamus couldn’t co-exist long enough for the latter to not knock the former’s head off his shoulders. Literally, not figuratively. It’s wrestling, not murder.
A fun match that incorporated a few stories, furthered a main story of Raw, and showed that maybe Seth really is a visionary.
SoloEST (Work with Me Here)
The women of SmackDown made it clear early they can’t get along. When it comes to their implosion, it was a matter of when, not if. And “when” happened at the most inopportune time, as they outnumbered Raw four to one. Seriously, FOUR to ONE.
Their dysfunction led to Bianca Belair staging a miraculous comeback and getting another win for her brand. The match went a little long and the crowd seemed ready to revolt on anything that wasn’t Sasha Banks and Bianca, but the right woman won as Bianca needed her momentum back. Meanwhile, there was no way SmackDown could win with all that simmering beef cooking below and above the surface.
South of Heaven=Hell
For the record, Pat Mac, that was not Jimi Hendrix at ringside during this match.
Damian Priest and Shinsuke Nakamura battled in a pretty good match. The story here? Priest’s Two Face performance. After multiple guitar riffs bought Nakamura back to life, Priest warned Boogs to cut it out or else.
Boots found out what “or else” meant as he plucked his strings one too many times. Priest flipped his lid, broke Boogs’ guitar—getting the best “son of a b*tch” reaction ever from Pat—and earned himself a DQ when he smashed what was left of the guitar over Nak’s head.
The Rock Would Be Rolling Over in His Grave
So, yeah, the 25 man battle royale to “celebrate” The Rock’s 25th anniversary wasn’t worthy of the man who inspired it. Omos won, Otis ate pizza in the middle of the ring, and the Street Profits celebrated their loss—yup—by tossing slices of Pizza Hut to the audience.
If you like dope wrestling or even just dope battle royales, this ain’t for you. But if 20 minute Pizza Hut commercials are your thing, then this is just the taste you’re looking for. Nobody out pizza’s Omos.
The two best matches of the night were the bread holding together a very meh sandwich. Besides the opening match and the main event, there just wasn’t anything to get truly invested in with Survivor Series. None of the matches had stakes, even though they moved some stories forward on their respective shows. But the lack of overall story for anything other than a meaningless brand superiority contest that most of the wrestlers couldn’t care less about made the show drag harder than a broken muffler.
Oh and let’s not forget the ever compelling—he said dripping with sarcasm—tale of the missing Cleopatra’s Egg. Survivor Series 2021 is a very mixed bag that represents this year as a whole for WWE: A lot of attention paid to the top feuds with the top belts while everything else feels sloppy at worst and an afterthought at best.
That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it.