WWE Survivor Series 2023: 4 Biggest Winners & 4 Biggest Losers

November brings about the WWE's annual Thanksgiving tradition of Survivor Series — with WarGames becoming a part of the festivities for the second consecutive year.

This year's card — coming to you from the Allstate Arena just outside of Chicago — arrived with a full assortment of dishes. And while some relished in the delicious feast the night served them, others were bound to be walking away with a bad taste. It's time to get into winners and losers for the 2023 edition of Survivor Series.


The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Wrestling Inc., Static Media, and/or maybe even you — and that's okay. Also, there's no such thing as objective criticism (that's an oxymoron).

Winner: CM Punk

CM Punk is back in WWE


That's a sentence many never thought they'd ever utter again, and yet here we are after the window of opportunity for this to happen was opened up by his dismissal from AEW. Punk now walks back into a company he left on such acrimonious grounds in 2014, that he has had less than pleasant things to say about in the years since, but that now affords him a last chance of sorts to correct the record on who he is as a person and as a professional wrestler. 


Punk had a passion when he initially returned to wrestling in 2021, signing with AEW. For a while, things there went well — until they didn't. And so much of the narrative about CM Punk during his time in Tony Khan's promotion was written by other people — what a problem he was backstage, how unhappy he grew, etc. That fed into other problems that eventually exploded into the disastrous finish he had there, one that may turn out to have been a blessing in disguise. 

Modern-day WWE may be exactly what Punk needs now that he rediscovered his love of wrestling. It provides Punk with the structure and organization that AEW certainly lacked, and, if he can navigate through some of its creative process to tell wrestling stories that are interesting to him, he should be fine. After all, he is driven and motivated to prove to others that he was never the issue he was labeled as. If he can play well with others and do good business within the WWE locker room, then everyone on this side of the equation comes out a winner.


Loser: AEW

Tony Khan is in trouble. 

Don't worry — AEW will be fine. As long as the checks clear, AEW will remain a part of the wrestling scene. But the promotion's profile was severely diminished with CM Punk's comeback to WWE — a company he reviled for so many years. After all, Khan's promotion had the distinct privilege once upon a time of being able to claim that they brought CM Punk back to wrestling after he had stayed away for a period of seven years. And after things went sour so quickly, much of that goodwill is gone, as are more than a few wrestling fans who tuned into AEW solely due to Punk's presence. Guess what they'll likely be watching now.


And now AEW is under the microscope, especially after all of the negative leaks about Punk that came from inside Tony Khan's house. Because, if Punk can play nice under the Triple H regime in WWE, then what does that say about the backstage culture in AEW? And then you'll have all sorts of new conversations about whether or not Khan backed the wrong horse by clearly siding with The Elite over Punk after the infamous AEW All Out backstage incident. There's going to be a lot of second-guessing going on, which never leads anywhere good. 

There will be some AEW die-hards that will follow the promotion no matter what, but the last thing AEW wants is for wrestling fans to start seeing cracks in its operation as more questions arise once again about what really happened during Punk's time there.


Winner: The WarGames Match Concept

WarGames rules. Period. The match concept, created by "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes in 1987, has long been one of wrestling's better match concepts. However, before receiving a modern-day test run in "NXT," such a brilliant idea laid dormant, collecting dust. I cannot express how thankful I am that Triple H saw something in a tweaked version of WarGames to the point that it has quickly become an exciting staple in the WWE landscape. 


And for two years straight, WWE's creative has found the ideal ways to build into the match at Survivor Series. It has never felt forced or inorganic, as it became a natural conclusion to settle scores among several parties all with a similar adversary — just as the match was meant to do. Now, you could make the argument that two WarGames matches on the same night might be a little much, but there has been enough to differentiate the men's and women's efforts that each wind up doing something unique. 

Plus, the match itself feels fresh when we've seen so many of these gimmick matches on repeat for a number of years. I would prefer if WWE doesn't run WarGames into the ground — like has happened with Hell In A Cell — where the storylines had to be twisted into pretzels to incorporate the match, but so far, the company has managed to deliver with its new toy.


Losers: Damage CTRL

I'm not quite sure where Damage CTRL goes after Survivor Series, and maybe that's the point. But, after suffering yet another major loss — this time in WarGames — this group feels absolutely lost and likely about to undergo a major restructuring. 


Led by Bayley, the trio of the once-hugger, Dakota Kai, and IYO SKY, has never quite seemed to find its footing past the initial excitement of the all-women's faction. Some title runs have been scattered throughout, but, as a cohesive unit, they always seem to drop the big matches or end up on the losing side of any feud. They are a toothless stable that talks a lot of game and then never backs it up in the ring; their fortunes didn't change even with re-introducing Kairi Sane and bringing Asuka into the fold for the double-cage match. So, what do you do with a mismatched cluster long past its shelf life and barely a credible threat? Something else — because Damage CTRL as it is currently constituted is not working.


Winner: Santos Escobar

Santos Escobar should hope that WWE only ever wrestles in front of Chicago crowds for the rest of his career, because the former luchador has never felt so much heat since joining the main roster as he did at Survivor Series. Following a betrayal of Rey Mysterio and a complete disassociation from all things Latino World Order, Escobar was met with so much hatred from the fans as he stepped into the ring with Dragon Lee — a last-minute replacement for an attacked Carlito — that his stock instantly shot up as a major heel for the company. 


Let's face it – Legado del Fantasma wasn't exactly setting the WWE Universe on fire when they were called up a little over a year ago. And, even though the reformation of the LWO was fun for a bit, it stuck Escobar into the unfortunate spot of being an afterthought. But apparently there is much to learn from Dominik Mysterio, as if you really want to get someone over big time as a major P.O.S., then stabbing Rey Mysterio in the back is an effective way of getting the job done. 

Also, WWE is investing a lot in the future of Dragon Lee — don't forget that. So, for Escobar to score a decisive victory over him at Survivor Series and do it with so much vitriol aimed at him, there is no way to see him tonight as anything but a huge winner.


Loser: Bayley

Bayley has a branding problem at the moment. For all the hype behind the teamwork shared by Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch during WarGames, Bayley really is a forgotten Horsewoman. And I'm not the only one noticing it — even Corey Graves pointed out her accolades on commentary during the caged bout, adding that she never quite gets the respect she likely deserves compared to the other women she came through "NXT" with. 


This Damage CTRL experiment has been a bit of a disaster for her and, with Dakota Kai still on the shelf for the foreseeable future and the rest of the group definitely taking on more of a joshi identity, Bayley is sure to be the odd woman out as changes are made. So where does that leave her? I really don't know. Evil Bayley may have run its course, and it will be difficult to return to her hugging days — not impossible, but very difficult. Granted, that leaves her plenty of room to re-invent herself and find a new path for who Bayley is, and that can be an exciting prospect. However, after suffering so many losses as the leader of Damage CTRL, she does feel like someone who has gotten lost in the shuffle of the women's division and is far from the title contender she once regularly was. 


Last night's WarGames didn't really do her many favors. Even as the MVP of her squad, keeping the team alive and saving several attempts to end the match, she wound up as the one eating defeat anyway. It's time for some change here.

Winner: The Miz

The Miz was never going to beat GUNTHER at Survivor Series, bringing an end to the longest-reigning Intercontinental Champion in WWE history. But who cares? Because, for a bit, he made you believe that he might — and that's the name of the game in professional wrestling. The Miz put on an outstanding match with GUNTHER, and one that should earn him a lot more respect than he typically gets for what he does in the ring. No, The Miz doesn't do anything spectacular move-wise inside the squared circle, but what he is tremendous at (and has been for quite some time) is getting fans to feel something. And that was on display in his title shot with the "Ring General."


The epitome of a WWE Superstar you love to hate, The Miz has been anything but a beloved fan favorite for a while. And leading into Survivor Series, it did seem like a tall ask for fans to get behind him in his quest to unseat GUNTHER, especially for how despicable The Miz has been over the years. People reveled in him losing an impromptu bout to Snoop Dogg at WrestleMania 39. 

But those in attendance at Survivor Series absolutely went along for the ride and were paid back plenty for their efforts. The Miz became a rallying point for fans and someone they were able to throw their support behind in this Intercontinental Championship match. Granted, every babyface needs a stellar foil — so credit to GUNTHER as well — but The Miz came out of Survivor Series with one pure fact in hand: the man is capable of doing anything asked of him.


Loser: Zoey Stark

The WWE Women's World Championship match at Survivor Series just didn't deliver the goods. It's probably unfair to call it underwhelming as the bout certainly picked up some steam as it went. However, this contest was missing some juice, and a lot of that winds up falling on Zoey Stark. 


Now, in her defense, a lot of that isn't her fault. The main roster rookie was just not ready for such a big moment, and she was set up to fail. 

There has been very little done to establish Stark as a credible championship contender. She has had very few substantial singles wins in her short time up from "NXT." She hasn't really demonstrated the ability to capture a crowd with her promo skills. Sure, she is fine in the ring as a wrestler, but she just lacks any sort of connection with the audience at the moment — and that is a recipe for disaster. Because if the fans don't care, then who will? And right now, the answer to that is nobody. 

More depth needs to be added to who exactly Zoey Stark is and why any of us need to know those details. Without them, she's just another face on the roster. And that's how she wound up being presented against Ripley: just another notch in the champ's belt. Wrestling companies need talent to fill those roles, but they do come with a ceiling that Stark is quickly starting to bump against.