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The supposed motivation for all of the talent during Survivor Series (outside of the two world title matches) was for the vague notion of "brand supremacy." With RAW and SmackDown recently undergoing a draft and the general sameness of the two shows meant that neither side had any real support from fans, since RAW and SmackDown really don't have separate fanbases.
NXT on the other hand, does have the kind of unique brand appeal that WWE would probably like RAW and SmackDown to have. NXT has a separate creative team and a different wrestling style and really does have a different fanbase than the two main roster shows. So throwing the brand into the annual Survivor Series PPV took what probably would have been a pretty boring show into one of the best WWE shows of the year. NXT provided a real interesting figure into the mundane "brand wars" and arguably saved Survivor Series. Can you imagine how boring this show would have been if it was just RAW vs SmackDown?
That being said, if Vince McMahon is obsessed with beating AEW, and he clearly is, I was surprised they didn't shoot a major angle at the end of the show to get people interested in watching NXT on Wednesday. Yes the show ended with NXT "winning" the night but I don't see any real reason for main roster stars to continue to show up on NXT to help boost viewership for the show. I thought if they wanted to continue this feud, they should have closed the show with a major angle to intice people to tune into NXT.
Women's Elimination Match: **¾
The crowd was quiet for this match at the start but they liked the ending, probably because NXT was put over in the end. The finish presented NXT as heels but of course, NXT were the babyface brand on the show, which didn't lead to the desired crowd reaction. I thought the injury angle with LeRae and Shirai returning was kind of a weak way to put NXT over; I think having Ripley just go over strong with no help would have been a bigger statement to start the main show.
On average, the women's work in WWE has improved over the last ten years to an almost unbelievable degree. However, when you have a match with so many people of various skill levels, there are going to be some ups and some downs in a match that goes this long. I think to a degree it is a difficult spot to be in that you want to have a lengthy match to make the pinfalls feel meaningful, but at the same time it is hard to hold the audience's attention for so long with a lot of names in the match that either lack star power or serious in-ring ability. Throw in the time-consuming injury angle which came off as really fake and this match had some issues.
One thing I did like was that each wrestler had some sort of RAW/SmackDown/NXT styled gear, instead of them all just wearing the generic T-shirts. It was a nice change from the T-shirts; the performers look like stars and not like a bunch of kids playing rec league soccer.
Men's Elimination Match: ***3/4
This match felt pretty rushed with a lot of the eliminations coming fast and without a lot of ceremony. I think given the time constraints they had, they did a really good job with all of the various interactions the talent had. The talent in this match felt like bigger stars than the talent in any of the other mixed matches. Even though NXT lost this match, the talent actually felt like they got more out of this match than in any of their victories.
The inclusion of Kevin Owens was odd, following his appearance at TakeOver the night before and the hint that he would join NXT for good. Yet, tonight he served as a member of team RAW and while they subtly kind of referenced that perhaps Owens is really working for NXT, he was unceremoniously eliminated by Ciampa. It felt like there was a little bit of a story there and it was ultimately ignored.
Rey Mysterio vs Brock Lesnar: ***½
This match had some of the best storytelling in years going into it, with a beloved, sympathetic babyface going up against a dominant heel. The match peaked with a tremendous sequence of having Dominic appear to come out to throw in the towel, only to really help Mysterio cheat and nearly pin Lesnar, only for Lesnar, the monster, to kick out with both guys piled on top of him. My only issue with the match is I thought they had a few more near-falls in them before Lesnar got the eventual victory; the winning pinfall kind of felt anti-climatic after such a hot sequence leading up to it.
Shayna Baszler vs Becky Lynch vs Bayley: **3/4
This match ended up being the main event but did not feel like it. The work was fine but the crowd never got into it, probably because it was coming off two pretty hot matches and this was just okay and didn't have a great build. After Baszler won, it was pretty strange how the show went off the air. Lynch, after doing basically nothing in the match, beat up Baszler and the show went off the air with Lynch, who again did nothing in the match, standing tall for some reason. To me, that kind of undermined the fact that Baszler won the main event for team NXT.
The Fiend vs Daniel Bryan: **
Thank god the Yes! kicks are still over because that was the only thing saving this match from being a complete disaster. Bryan's comeback was able to rally the crowd enough to give the match some entertainment in between a boring start to the match and a flat finish. Vince must absolutely adore the red lighting because it seems like every other person in the world thinks that the lighting is horrible, and really could put a ceiling on The Fiend's potential. I thought the near falls were very hard to believe given The Fiend kicked out of a dozen curb stomps last time we saw him in a match.
Adam Cole vs Pete Dunne: ****
At first I thought this match was kind of disrespectful to the NXT title. Fans are used to these intense, dramatic main event title matches and here we had a mid-card match that was put together the day before, in front of a crowd that didn't have a ton of enthusiasm for the match. However, these guys worked really hard and had such a good match that it ended up winning the crowd over and was certainly a worthy title match. The finish, with Cole countering the Bitter End into a Canadian Destroyer was sick, maybe it was TOO sick because it didn't seem like the crowd expected it to be the finish.
Roderick Strong vs AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura: ***
This was probably the best Nakamura has looked in a while, which is what should happen when you share a ring with AJ Styles and Roderick Strong. The crowd was pretty quiet despite all three men working really hard. You won't find a bigger supporter of Roderick Strong and his s--tty little boots, but he doesn't have a ton of outward star presence so if you aren't familiar with his work, he isn't the most exciting guy to be dropped into a match. Similar to the women's match, WWE put the NXT talent over but did it in a way that didn't exactly give them a ton of credibility.
Must Watch Matches
The Revival vs Bobby Fish and Kyle O'Reilly: **** - NXT 11/20