The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the views of Wrestling Inc. or its staff
Whatever you want to say about Survivor Series, it was certainly conversation worthy. I don't think it was a particularly outstanding PPV, or even a good one, but you can't deny it is going to spark a lot of discussion.
Brock Lesnar vs Goldberg: Unrated
Okay so I have a couple theories on why they had Goldberg squash Lesnar. The first would be that Goldberg couldn't take a bump for safety reasons and WWE couldn't not have the match so they just had Goldberg come out and kill him as oppose to work a short smoke-and-mirrors match. With their hands tied due to a medical issue they did the only thing they could do.
Theory number two is similar to the first one in that they could not have a long match, not because of a medical reason but simply because Goldberg is almost 50. Instead of having just an outright bad match, they decided to have a short match that would "shock" the audience and get people talking. That way you have greater control of fans' reactions; instead of them just thinking the match was bad they would be too blown away by the surprising booking that it will drive interest.
Third, something fell through between WWE and contract negotiations with either Brock or Goldberg. I don't know, maybe Brock wanted a ton of money or he showed up to Survivor Series and he didn't want to work at all or something so Vince blew a gasket and just had him job out.
Any way you look at it; I think it is a bad look for WWE. For starters, you screwed the fans out of a "dream" match that had the best build on RAW for the last month. Even if you shocked them, I would still be really mad if I paid to see the match live and that is what they got. Second, WWE has spent so much time and effort to build Brock up. I mean, his matches this year have been glorified squashes of Randy Orton and Dean Ambrose, two of the biggest stars in the company. Throw in his wins over Triple H, The Undertaker and John Cena and WWE has created an unstoppable force that seemingly nobody could beat. I theorized two weeks ago that WWE had worked themselves into a situation where it looked like nobody could realistically beat Lesnar; but obviously WWE felt differently and put Goldberg over Lesnar for reasons known only to them.
That is really the biggest problem with the result; WWE has done irreparable damage to Lesnar's reputation as a huge ass-kicker and their most reliable drawing card. To put a guy over who has been adamant that this is a one-time deal. It wasn't Samoa Joe, or Kevin Owens or even Roman Reigns who made Lesnar look mortal—it was Goldberg. Even if they have a rematch by recruiting Goldberg for more dates, it still doesn't make much sense to have him kill Lesnar because now who really believes that Lesnar has a chance. Either way you can no longer really promote Lesnar as the conquering beast and have fans view him as BROCK LESNAR. Needless to say that is a really stupid decision. Lastly, Goldberg, a star from the late-1990s who hadn't wrestled a match in a dozen years, beat the most unstoppable force the current day had to offer. It just confirms the beliefs that a lot of fans (and almost all former fans) that the stars of the present are inferior to the stars of the past. With this kind of booking it is no wonder WWE struggles to grow its fanbase.
Team RAW vs Team SmackDown: ***1/2
A lot happened in this match so I'm going to break it down in bullet points:
• The finish was pretty good and I'm happy to see The Wyatt family get the win in a big match. In the past they have been marginalized too much in these types of matches so them actually coming up big was nice.
• The match was extremely long, which is fine because it was entertaining, but getting rid of Kevin Owens so far away from the finish felt like a waste, you almost forgot he was in the match.
• Apparently there were no count-outs in this match, which was strange because the previous elimination tag matches had count-outs. It would have made more sense for it to be billed as kind of a "anything goes" match; but I guess they had Owens get disqualified so that wouldn't have worked.
• Braun Strowman looked about as good as he is ever going to look. I don't know what his ceiling is but I think he has a bit more potential than I originally gave him credit for.
• The Shield reuniting was an easy pop but it's obviously not going to lead to much unless Ambrose gets traded to RAW.
• If I was booking the match I wouldn't have had it built so much around Shane McMahon (who definitely has a concussion). I get that he is over and he was fine doing his trademark spots, but I wouldn't have him selling for long periods of time nor would I have him taking it to other wrestlers. When you have guys like Owens, Styles, Rollins, Orton etc. it is kind of hard to get behind a guy whose offense looks so bad.
RAW Women vs SmackDown Women: **1/4
An okay match to open the show; the crowd was pretty into parts of it which was a good sign for the rest of the card. The wrestling was generally good but there were some notable botches that dragged down the quality of the match. Bayley getting the winning pinfall for Team RAW while Charlotte watched from the apron was the right ending to the match and sets up their feud at the next PPV. I didn't care for Becky Lynch submitting Nia Jax during the course of the match—it seems like such an odd decision. Jax had hitherto been undefeated but they had her not only get eliminated, but submit to Lynch. Technically she is still undefeated, but why have her eliminated via submission, the weakest way to go out? Why not have her get counted out because she was beating up someone on the outside? If you are going to push someone as a monster heel don't have them tap out on PPV.
RAW Tag Teams vs SmackDown Tag Teams: ***1/2
This match was a lot of fun. I thought they made a mistake in eliminated the New Day so quickly because only a few of the tag teams are legitimately over and eliminating one of those teams in the first minute of the match seemed like a bad idea. However, to their credit the remaining teams worked really hard to sell the match and the result was pretty entertaining. In hindsight I kind of like that the end of the match involved two teams that you wouldn't necessarily have expected; it added an element of unpredictably which was a pleseant surprise.
Sami Zayn vs The Miz: **1/2
This was a pretty basic match; one they would likely have at a house show. It didn't help that they had no build-up to the match, and for a guy like The Miz that his strength; he really thrives on having that month to antagonize his opponent and that creates a match with more heat. The finish was awful; but you knew that at Survivor Series in Canada WWE couldn't help themselves, they had to do something screwy with the bell-ringing before someone actually submitted. I find it humorous that whenever WWE mentions the great Intercontinental Champions of the past they never mention someone who has held it this millennia.
Kalisto vs Brian Kendrick: **1/2
WWE has completely destroyed the cruiserweight division in a way that even someone like me, who was very pessimistic about the division's future before it even debuted, is shocked. The crowd was dead even though both guys worked hard and that was because the storytelling in the division is so bad and Kendrick has no real heat—and since Kendrick getting heat is the entire crux of the division that is a big problem. Of course WWE had to send Baron Corbin out to kill both guys because Vince and company can only have the cruiserweight division on for so long before they get squashed by a big guy.
NXT Takeover Toronto:
This was a phenomenal show, in my opinion the best WWE show of the year and featured the best WWE match of 2016. There was no way Survivor Series was going to top this show; there just wasn't enough drama on the card to match Takeover.
Samoa Joe vs Shinsuke Nakamura: ****
Very strong match, I think a bit better than their first encounter. Nakamura, right from the start of his entrance just has such a presence about him that is unlike anything else in wrestling. Joe to his credit is just such a believable bad-ass heel that when the two fight it feels like a really big deal; something a lot of the matches on the main roster sorely lack. I understand that Joe regaining the championship indicates that neither man is headed to the main roster anytime soon and that frustrates a lot of fans, but this was a still a very good match.
Asuka vs Mickie James: ***1/2
This was a good match, perhaps the best one Asuka has had since coming to WWE and I think that it was in part because for the first time she sold a lot for someone whose offense looked really good. At 37, James looked great both physically and in the ring and if she wants it, there is no reason why she shouldn't have a full-time role on either RAW or SmackDown. I thought that the finish was kind of sudden so if I have a complaint that is it; but otherwise this was a good match.
Team DIY vs The Revival: ****3/4
This was just an awesome match, really everything you would want to see in tag team match or a 2-out-of-3 falls match was in this match. They had babyfaces that the fans got behind and heels that were genuinely disliked. All four of the men in the match are good workers, and The Revival are just awesome as a team; they do so much in the ring that you might not notice, like their timing of spots and how they work together on the outside; whatever brand they end up on they are going to be the best tag team on the show. All of the falls were slick spots and I loved the finish with both guys tapping out together to drop the titles. This match is definitely in the conversation for best WWE tag team match of all-time.
TM-61 vs The Authors of Pain: **1/2
Not really a great match but I thought that the teams did what they were expected to do. TM-61 worked really hard and sold for the power of The Authors of Pain. Both members of TM-61 came across really well even though they didn't win, and Shane Thorne jumping off the cage crane was the highspot of the night. It makes sense that the Authors of Pain won because they are the natural next opponents for Team DIY, even if a DIY vs TM-61 match would be awesome.
Bobby Roode vs Tye Dillinger: ****1/4
I saw these two work against each other at a live show in Boston on Thursday and they had a lot of the same spots in this match. Both "Glorious" and "Ten" are super over with live crowds and even an average match feels extraordinary when the crowd is that into it. Before this match I didn't think much of Tye Dillinger has a potential asset on the main roster; outside of "Ten" getting over I didn't think he had much to offer but he was great in Toronto, really impressive. Roode of course is a veteran who has all the skills to be a star and will be the NXT Champion sometime in 2017.
Must Watch Matches:
Eita vs Flamita: **** - Dragon Gate The Gate of Destiny
Genki Horiguchi, Ryo Jimmy Saito and Jimmy Kanda vs Big R Shimizu, Masaaki Mochizuki and Peter Kaasa vs Cyber Kong, T-Hawk and YASSHI: **** - Dragon Gate The Gate of Destiny
Jimmy Kagetora and Jimmy Susumu vs Dragon Kid and CIMA: ****1/4 – Dragon Gate The Gate of Destiny
YAMATO, Shingo Takagi and BxB Hulk vs Akira Tozawa, Naruki Doi and Masato Yoshino: **** - Dragon Gate The Gate of Destiny