Introduction - Let me say this. The longer my usual review compatriots took to put up a Survivor Series 2019 review, the more negativity began to swirl in my head. I hadn't watched the show live with friends like I normally do for The Big Four, so as a result I didn't enjoy the show much live when I watched it. Will a re-watch sweeten the deal? Let's find out.
Since our friends at WWE Network has make finding kickoff shows so difficult that I found it mid way through writing this review to find the I'll just do some bullet lists
- Tag Team Battle Royal - 5/10. Thought that this was an average tag battle Royal with a fun ending. Ziggler and Roode showed great hustle. This was knocked down to a 5 because Imperium were just warm bodies.
- Lio Rush (NXT) vs Akira Tozawa (Raw) vs Kallisto (Smackdown) - DUD.Because who on Earth thought anyone else but Lio would be winning?
- Viking Raiders (Raw) vs New Day (Smackdown) vs The Undisputed Era (NXT) - 6.75/10. New Day and Vikings rocked it, but Undisputed Era didn't get to show off nearly as much as I would've liked.
Opening video package - Horrible. We get a choppy version of the normal Survivor Series package, but NXT hacks its way in with a fire graphic (?), and then we get all the major magazine coverage. We then get a bunch of non-connected clips of the various invasions. I feel like if you'd shown a timeline, maybe put in some cheesy "drums of war" music, This would've been a lot less scrambled
I'm fantasy booking THE OPENING VIDEO PACKAGE. Lord give me the strength to get this review.
5-on-5-on-5 Survivor Series Elimination Match
Team NXT (Rhea Ripley, Bianca Belair, Candice LeRae, Io Shirai, and Toni Storm) vs Team Raw (Charlotte Flair, Natalya, Asuka, Kairi Sane, and Sarah Logan) vs Team SmackDown (Sasha Banks, Carmella, Dana Brooke, Lacey Evans, and Nikki Cross) - 5.5/10
Props to whoever decided on color coded gear instead of team shirts. Speaking of gear, I LOVE Kairi's new Setsuka from Soul Calibur III gear. Looks way cooler than the pirate gear. Also poor Beth gets cut off to throw to the Spanish and French announce teams. We're also informed that there will be one legal woman per team, and you can only tag your own brand. This is smart, presumably to avoid the Tag Team Survivor Series 1987/88 problem of people blocking people's view of the ring.
This format means you get to do a lot of fun multi-person match tropes (ROH scramble style, early Triple Threats where someone is standing waiting to take advantage, even three person moves) without worrying about the most impactful one leading to a finish. Also, a lot of the underneath girls like Logan, Carmella, and even Bianca once Io and Candice got taken out got to shine. Unfortunately, with so many people variables in the ring, that means that there are points where there's nonexistent cohesion and the match drags. We motor through eliminations so we can get across Asuka and Charlotte's beef. Charlotte being a bitch leads to Asuka misting her, which Charlotte's selling stealing the show. The negatives of this format quickly become apparent when a team that's whole story was that they were handicapped just aren't through subliminal effort . The tease a Sasha turn on Natalya so obvious that even Jerry has to call it out. Rhea and Sasha get to show why they're stars when they're alone, but LeRae and Io come back out and spend way too long setting up the finish to the match. NXT is ahead by 1.
This match rests almost entirely on the sequences therein, and Sasha vs Rhea. Despite those things being great, the rest of the match was so long and boring that it barely picked up above average.
We get a recap of the Men's Wargames match from last night show, and then we get
Seth Rollins confronts Kevin Owens - Seth asks KO where his allegiances lie. Despite KO giving a perfectly logical answer, Seth still manages to look like an asshole. KO cals Seth a hypocrite because he turned on The Shield. The delivery was a bit clunky but I liked the content.
Shinsuke Nakamura (Smackdown) (w/Sami Zayn) vs. Roderick Strong (NXT) vs AJ Styles (Raw) - 7.75/10
The Chicago crowd sings Nak's song on his way out. This, and their behavior during the Women's match, proves that they're only there to involve themselves
Whats interesting about this is that we have three heels, so each person it feels like a race to take advantage of the situation, with varying results. After a top rope kick Doomsday Device combo which looked terrifying, the match really picks up. Styles somehow survives Roderick being Nakamura back suplexed onto his face to break up a pin. Ultimately Roderick steals a pin off of AJ's Phenomenal Forearm on Nakamura
This was a great match, and the best Nakamura one I've seen since he turned heel. Nak and Zayn are a fantastic unit.
The Miz pep talks Daniel Bryan - Miz has his promo boots on, talking about how The Fiend is pure evil and for the sake of people everywhere he has to be stopped. D-Bry stoically shoos him away. This was awesome!
Adam Cole (c) vs. Pete Dunne - 9.25/10
Do I need to even tell you how good this match was? The old school story of both guys working over previously injured body parts, with the new school pizzaz of big moves and kicking out of finishers. Pete Dunne in particular looked like a million dollars. Adam was great as well but he only really got to be a wormy/vindictive heel in the last few minutes. Would've liked to have seen Adam be a chickenshit for more of the match.
Post match - The rest of the UE come out to pose with Cole at the top of the ramp while Dunne looks disappointed. Awesome
Team Smackdown segment - Baron tries to assert himself as captain by Roman monopolizes the conversation. This segment was made a good one by Mustafa Ali's "Can you believe this fucking shit?" smile.
Fiend vs Daniel Bryan video package - Fiend attacked Daniel after winning the Universal Championship at Crown Jewel so he could co-opt the "Yes" movement, which Daniel killed off. Daniel manages to get a title shot out of it, but when he teases doing the "Yes" thing again, The Fiend appears and attacks him for it. It's a little bit illogical but I enjoy having to put pieces together myself more than I do WWE's normal hum-drum, so this is a thumbs up.
WWE Universal Championship
Daniel Bryan vs The Fiend (c) - 7.75/10
Bryan starts off hot but gets beat down by The Fiend. He uses his technical know-how and endurance to fight back, hitting big moves. Fiend no-sells two separate flurries of Yes Kicks, to which Daniel Bryan goes apeshit with kicks, and does the stomps to the head with the hands trapped, which look BRUTAL. Bryan summons the power of Yes, hits the Knee Plus....and The Fiend kicks out! And gets to his feet like nothing happened! Bryan gets back into it, even reversing a top rope Mandible Claw into a hanging armbar....but Fiend counters D-Bry's running flying elbow into a Mandible Claw, and it's all over despite Daniel trying to fight!
I thought this match was good. The Fiend got to keep what made him unique, and Daniel got to look like a wrestling savant and poke holes in this unbeatable monster's gameplan.
Rey Mysterio interview - Who would've thought Rey would've cut the best promo all night?
5-on-5-on-5 Suvivor Series Elimination Match
Team SmackDown (Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman, King Corbin, Mustafa Ali, and Shorty G) vs Team Raw (Seth Rollins, Drew McIntyre, Kevin Owens, Randy Orton, and Ricochet) and Team NXT (Tommaso Ciampa, Damian Priest, Matt Riddle, Keith Lee, and WALTER) - 9.25/10
WALTER gets to throw hands with McIntyre and Strowman, looking like a badass while doing it. And while the crowd (rightfully) HATED WALTER's quick elimination, at least it was done by McIntyre, the second hardest hitter in the match and not by one of Vince's anointed like Orton, Roman, and McIntyre. Shorty gets to show us how talented he is by first going move for move with Richochet and Matt Riddle, showing how versatile he is. A handspring double kick allows KO to eliminate Shorty via frog splash. Arguing between Corbin and Roman allows Owens to run wild on them outside the ring. He gets eliminated via sneaky Widow's Bell from Ciampa though. Ciampa telegraphs an RKO outta nowhere by simply glancing over his shoulder at Randy. I thought this was awesome! They wrestle for a bit to a stalemate, and then Ciampa eats an RKO so Damien Priest can sneak in after the blind tag. He goes for The Reckoning, but gets RKOed for the elimination. In what was the highlight of the night for me personally, Riddle rolls up Randy...but gets RKOed. Corbin picks up the pieces and eliminates him while laughing. Braun clears house of Keith Lee and Drew and just starts body checking people on the outside (Drew in particular looked like he got sent head first into the post). On a second go round he collides with a running Keith Lee which knocks them both down! McIntyre Claymore Kicks Strowman but we miss it, Strowman's eliminated by count out. Now it's Ricochet's turn to run wild, but he gets End of Days'd to be eliminated. Ali blind tags and runs wild, but Corbin stops him to bitch about the blind tag, which gives Rollins the opportunity to Curbstomp and eliminate him! The crowd seems to not like this despite the fact that a heel was being a heel. A dive from Rollins takes the bickering Smackdowners (and Keith Lee) out, leaving McIntyre vs Ciampa. Roman saves Ciampa from a Claymore and eliminates him. A Widows Bell, and Fairy Tale Ending countered by a Superman Punch leads to a double down. Corbin runs interference on the NXT hot tag (you know, like a heel should) and forces a tag of his own. For this, Corbin gets an "STD" chant, which Corbin assures us all stands for "Super Tough Dude". The chant was brutal and hilarious, but like...really? Corbin bitches out Roman for requiring his assistance, which prompts a spear from Roman! Ciampa eliminates Corbin! Rollins and Roman team up to negate the 2-1-1 disadvantage (you know, as logic might dictate) and get booed. We get a tease at Shield-Bomb from the former brothers, but Keith Lee bulldozes the entire operation. Ciampa rolls Seth in to get a knee and Project Ciampa for a two 1/2 count. Cimpa and Seth trade finisher teases, until an FTE is broken up via Superman Punch and Curb Stomp. The crowd, of course, hated this, but I fail to see how you look bad it took a signature move and a finisher from the two top guys in the company to take you out. Keith and Seth get to shine together, Keith kicking out of the superkick/frog splash. Seth bitches to the crowd for chanting about NXT, but gets eliminated via Ground Zero! Roman and Lee trade disputed pinfalls off of signatures, but in the end Roman wins with a spear.
This was MILES ahead of the Women's match. I guess because they had so much more talent to deal work with, the guys who put this match together were able to translate what make each person special, and put them in there with guys with similar skillsets, which is one hell of a thing to do in a match with 15 people in it. I think the only person who actually suffered being in there was Damien Priest, who had to have been injured or something. That aside, they also manage to set up Mustafa and Roman as potential opponents for Corbin, AND they put Keith Lee, who arguably is a rung below the NXT main event crop, in a star making position. High fives and gold stars all around.
Post match - Roman and Keith sell their miniwar and then shake hands
Brock Lesnar/Rey Mysterio video package - GREAT! Brock is more evil than ever, killing Rey, his son, and a good friend (Cain Velasquez) in front of him and killing fan favorite Kofi Kingston in 3-seconds as an aside. Rey comes back with a vengeance and beats the shit out of Brock with a pipe. Combine how evil Brock is being and Rey being as badass as he's ever been and you have a great match.
No Holds Barred Match for the WWE Championship
Brock Lesnar (c) vs Rey Mysterio - 7/10
Rey teases immediate pipe usage, but Brock cuts him off after feigning cowardice Brock murders Rey (including a German Suplex in which Rey lands right on his tailbone on the pipe). But then Dominick appears, and father and son double team beast in the moment of the night. But Brock dispatches of both guys after a dog pile pin for the win.
Now THIS is how you book a heel. Tease the most heartwarming Disney finish to a match of all time, but then just have Scar beat up Mufasa and Simba because fuck your dreams, Brock Lesnar is in town.
Shayna/Becky/ Bailey video package - The Shayna vs Becky stuff is money but Bailey felt like a third wheel
Shayna Baszler (NXT Women's Champion) vs Becky Lynch (Raw Women's Champion) vs Bayley (SmackDown Women's Champion) - 3/10
Listen, I've always been a fan of Bayley. But Jesus Jones was she the weak link in this match. She seemed to interrupt any good eb and flow her and Shayna had, or just make Shayna/ Becky look like the odd woman out when she was working on the other. Luckily Shayna and Becky get in some good looking stuff, and Shayna submits Bayley
God damn was this just...poor. I think we all like to lump in wrestlers we love with other good workers. But let's face it Becky, and especially not Shayna, are as multi-faceted as say, Daniel Bryan, who can flip the switch and change their style to work with multiple opponents in one match. They couldn't flip the switch tonight, or work in a way that made Bayley look like she wasn't an uninvited interloper.
Post match - Becky pushes over the table as Shayna celebrates because the good part of this feud will continue (please have Shayna win the rumble and give us Shayna vs Becky at Mania pleasepleaseplease)
This was a good show from WWE, albeit over the place. The high level guys who are given the time to wrestle and get storylines across ruled, whereas the matches hampered by time constraints or bad opponents got the shit ends of the stick, and you could really tell who was who just by watching. A couple of asides props to the commentary team (especially Corey, Jerry, and Nigel) for being ra ra cheerleaders for their brands and getting some good barbs in as a result, and fuck the city of Chicago for being the worst kinds of snotty, bratty nerd-lingers, and I hope live wrestling never comes to your city ever again.<