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KELLER’S WWE SURVIVOR SERIES PPV REPORT
NOVEMBER 22, 2020
ORLANDO, FLA. AT THUNDERDOME
AIRED LIVE ON WWE NETWORK
-A video package previewed the event, with the narrator saying, “You’re the champ? Well, they are too!” They showed the various champions facing each other, and then a look at Undertaker’s career.
-Cole introduced the show as pyro blasted in ThunderDome. He said it was the 34th Survivor Series.
Commentators: Michael Cole, Samoa Joe, Corey Graves
(1) TEAM RAW (A.J. Styles & Sheamus & Braun Strowman & Riddle & Keith Lee) vs. TEAM SMACKDOWN (Jey Uso & Baron Corbin & Kevin Owens & Seth Rollins & Otis)
Styles entered first, with his tall bodyguard Almas. He said he will not apologize for the victory they’re about to achieve. He was interrupted mid-sentence by Riddle’s music. When Sheamus came out, Cole said it’s his tenth Survivor Series, and it was five years ago he cashed in the MITB briefcase to win the WWE Title. Team Raw wore red t-shirts that said “Raw” on the front and “USA” on the back. Team Smackdwon wore t-shirts that said “Smackdown” on the front and “Fox” on the back. Lee and Riddle didn’t wear the t-shirts once the match began.
Styles battled Uso at the start. Nice sequences. Styles bragged to his partners that is how it’s done. Uso then gave him a Samoan Drop for a one count. Riddle tagged in against Otis a minute later. Graves told Joe he just feel blessed he isn’t subjected to Otis dancing on Monday nights. Joe said he does feel blessed. A minute later Seth asked for a tag from Owens. Owens paused and did so, but wasn’t happy about it. He faced off against Sheamus. Seth dropped to his knees and told Sheamus to do his part. Cole said he appeared to be willing to sacrifice himself. Sheamus gave him a Brogue Kick and pinned him.
KO asked Seth what he was doing afterward. He said he’ll always be a piece of trash. Team Smackdown huddled at ringside. Braun charged at them at ringside and knocked them over. He threw Corbin into the ring, then yelled at his teammates to work as a team now. Lee tagged in against Otis, and the announcers made a big deal out of these two super-heavyweights squaring off. After some back and forth, Lee tagged Braun in. Braun beat up Otis, then tagged in Styles.
During several more minutes of random match-ups in the ring and rapid tags, Corbin and KO were eliminated. Styles pinned Owens after a Phenomenal Forearm. Less than a minute later, Riddle pinned Corbin.
Braun and Otis squared off again. Braun kicked Otis down. Otis avoided a charging Braun, then bodyslammed him. He yelled, “Oh yeah!” He did the Caterpillar into an elbowdrop, then set up his swing splash. Riddle charged at him, but Braun got up and powerslammed him off the second rope for the pin.
That left Jey alone against all of Team Raw. They cut to a nervous Paul Heyman watching on a monitor backstage. Graves said if Team Smackdown doesn’t win, there will be ramifications in the family. Uso dove onto all five Raw wrestlers at ringside, then battled Styles in the ring. He went for a frog splash, but Almas yanked Styles out of the way. Styles then went for a Phenomenal Forearm, but Uso kicked him off the top rope. Uso then dove off the top rope into the arms of Lee. Lee gave him a Spirit Bomb for the win. Graves marveled at Lee’s show of strength. They immediately cut to frozen nervous Heyman watching on the monitor. Team Raw celebrated together. Then Sheamus and Braun had some words so Styles stepped between them. Braun and Sheamus broke into laughter and hugged after talking out their differences.
WINNERS: Team Raw in 20:00. (***)
(Keller’s Analysis: That felt a bit long. It was pretty sold throughout, but there were a lot of wrestlers in this match, and I don’t think they needed to give each of them on average four minutes in the ring each. The finish of Team Raw surviving in tact despite all the problems in the lead-up was unexpected and was a cool story of the match. Having Uso face ramifications for losing despite surviving the longest on his team and facing such odds at the end will make Roman look like a real jerk if he’s not understanding.)
Commentators: Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton
(2) THE NEW DAY (Xavier Woods & Kofi Kingston w/Big E) vs. THE STREET PROFITS (Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins)
New Day came out together with elaborate outfits. Xavier played a souped up trombone. Before coming out, the Street Profits sang the Shawn Michaels theme song and posed like HBK and Diesel. They talked about New Day’s impressive championship resume. They said they aren’t there for autographs or for them to hand over the torch because they’re going to take it from them. They closed with, “We want the smoke!” Graves said the fun and games is over for them.
(Keller’s Analysis: Where was that on Friday’s Smackdown? I lamented the lack of sense of consequences and seriousness on the part of both teams on Friday so fans got a sense the teams were interested in more than clowning around.)
Dawkins and Woods locked up. Phillips said they’ve known each other almost a decade and they’ve never locked up before. They’re doing a much better job here making this match-up feel like a big deal than they did on Friday. Ford tagged in against Kingston next. Joe said Kofi’s happy exterior masks a man motivated to prove the Street Profits wrong. Graves said this is arguably the biggest match of Street Profits tenure in WWE. New Day threw the Profits to the floor. Kofi then dove over the top rope onto Ford. Xavier then leaped at Dawkins. New Day showboated afterward. Xavier yelled at the announcers that the Profits “are not ready for this New Day beating they are about to receive.”
Back in the ring, Kofi and Xavier took turns beating on Ford. Kofi taunted Ford with a red Solo cup on the ring apron. Then Kofi punted it. Dawkins hot-tagged a couple minutes later and went to work on New Day. Ford ducked Trouble in Paradise and then hit Kofi with his own Trouble in Paradise. Woods tagged in and gave Ford a gut-buster, though, for a near fall. Xavier set up a superplex on Ford, but Ford resisted and then Dawkins blind-tagged himself. He snuck up behind Xavier and lifted him onto his shoulders. Ford then gave Xavier a blockbuster off the top rope for the three count. The New Day congratulated the Profits with a hand-shake afterward.
WINNERS: The Street Profits in 14:00. (***1/2)
(Keller’s Analysis: Good match. Not off the charts or anything, but really good. Mostly here what counts is Street Profits got a meaningful win, and the framing of it by the Profits in the pre-match promo and then how the announcers talked about it helped it feel important.)
-They showed the women’s teams backstage each talking strategy.
Commentators: Michael Cole, Samoa Joe, Corey Graves
(3) SAMI ZAYN vs. BOBBY LASHLEY (w/MVP, Shelton Benjamin, Cedric) – Battle of IC Champ and U.S. Champ
The announcers wondered how fair it was for all of Hurt Business to be at ringside for Lashley. Sami complained to the referee. Lashley outpowered Sami, who rolled to the floor and yelled at Shelton and Cedric. Lashley attacked Sami from behind. Cole said maybe Sami was trying to get Shelton to hit him so he could win by DQ. Sami went back after Shelton and Cedric, who stood stoically as he complained about a conspiracy. Sami went back in the ring and snapped Lashley’s neck over the top rope to take over.
Lashley came back and speared Sami in the corner. Cole said as much as he wants Sami to win because he represents Raw, he would like to see him lose because then he’d be quiet. Joe asked if he really believes that’d make him quiet. Sami again rolled to the floor. MVP got in Sami’s space, yelling at him. Cedric and Shelton joined in. Sami shoved Cedric. Lashley then shoved Sami into the ringside barricade. Graves said it’s clear a conspiracy has befallen the IC Champion.
Back in the ring, Lashley dominated Sami. Sami retreated to ringside and staggered toward MVP. He fell down and blamed MVP and called for a DQ win. He complained to the ref. Lashley came up behind a distracted Sami and put the Hurt Lock on him for the win.
WINNER: Lashley in 8:00. (*3/4)
(Keller’s Analysis: They found a way to have Hurt Business come across as somewhat heelish by outnumbering Sami at ringside and taunting him, but ultimately Sami was the one most viewers would want to see lose with his incessant complaining and accusations. A fun payoff to what appeared to be such an odd match-ups. Sami is always a blast to watch.)
-Backstage Jey told Jimmy Uso and Heyman his teammates weren’t listening to him. Reigns walked up and said he wasn’t looking for excuses. Jimmy told Jey to leave with him. Reigns told Jey to stay. Jey did stay. “We lost because you can’t control you team, you can’t control you team because they don’t fear you, they don’t respect you, they don’t respect me, if they don’t respect me, they don’t respect our family. If you can’t make them respect us, then you don’t have a place at the table.” Uso jerked his head over to Reigns with a look of worry. Reigns said told him to just get out of his arena. “I don’t have time for losers, not tonight,” he said. Heyman gave him a look that suggested Jey let them down and really got himself in trouble.
Commentators: Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton
(4) SASHA BANKS vs. ASUKA – Raw Champion vs. Smackdown Champion
They took turns with sustained offense. At 8:00 they battled on the ring apron. Asuka went for an ankle lock on the ring apron. Sasha blocked it and went for a German suplex. Asuka blocked it and charged with a hip attack, to knock Sasha to the floor. They battled at ringside a minute later, with Sasha trying for a suplex, but Asuka set her on the ringside barricade. Sasha leaped off of it, but Asuka gave her a double-knee as a counter Sasha’s meteora. They both rolled into the ring to barely beat the ten count.
Back in the ring more back and forth exchanges. They countered moves and leverage pin attempts. Banks ducked an Asuka charge and rolled her up for a three count. Graves said might not have been as decisive as Sasha would have liked. Phillips said it could have ended so many times with either wrestler winning. Saxton said Asuka will be fine.
WINNER: Sasha in 10:00. (**3/4)
-The announcers talked about the Kickoff Show including Miz sneaking his way to a battle royal win over Dominick Mysterio. They also showed the Gobbledly Gooker winning the 24/7 Title from R-Truth earlier.
-Backstage, the Gobbledly Gooker saw a bunch of bird seed. He bent over to eat it. Tozawa rolled him up for a win. Truth then KO’d him with a bag of bird seed and yelled, “Happy 30th Anniversary!” He ran away yelling in celebration. Saxton congratulated Truth for his 45th reign as 24/7 Champion.
(5) TEAM RAW (Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler & Lana & Lacey Evans & Peyton Royce) vs. TEAM SMACKDOWN (Bayley & Bianca Belair & Ruby Riott & Liv Morgan & Natalya)
Jax was the first to the ring. They replayed Jax putting Lana through the table nine times. When Baszler came out, Saxton said maybe in recent days Jax and Baszler agreed to get on the same page with Lana. Graves asked Saxton what it’s like living in Fantasy Land. Saxton said, “Quite enjoyable.” Phillips said the WWE Network “Chronicle” on Lana showed how difficult it is for Lana to quit anything. The announcers talked about Liv Morgan’s evolution from lacking confidence in herself to finding her own voice. Phillips asked how many qualifying matches Natalya had. Graves said that doesn’t matter because she brings veteran leadership and expertise and is good for morale. Phillips noted there seems to be good camaraderie on Team Smackdown compared to Team Raw.
After four minutes of action where it seemed nearly every combination paired off for 20 second sequences before tagging someone else in, Lana tagged herself in. Jax wasn’t happy about it. Saxton said it’d be okay. Natalya and Lana locked up and exchanged near falls. Lana delivered a boot to the face and into the splits for a two count. Lana reached for a tag, but Lacey and Peyton didn’t want to tag her. Jax did, but then Jax and Baszler were mean and told Lana to go stand on the steps away from them. Lana looked crushed. Phillips said it was degrading and Lana looked like she was going to start crying.
Bayley took control against Peyton a minute later. Graves said everyone on her team agrees she’s the captain. Saxton said the treatment of Lana has completely changed the course of the match. Royce eventually gave Bayley her Deja Vu for the three count. The announcers reacted with shock. Graves said their captain is gone. Natalya entered next. Peyton took her down with a spin wheel kick for a near fall. Peyton rolled into a single leg crab. Belair pulled Natalya to safety. Peyton kicked her. Natalya then set up Royce for hold that fell apart completely. Natalya then applied a sharpshooter instead. Royce tapped out.
Lacey battled Natalya next. She landed a Woman’s Right to eliminate Natalya. Belair came in next. Lacey landed a top rope Splash Fly for a near fall, broken up by Belair’s teammates. Riott rocked Jax with a Riott Kick, so Jax tagged in Baszler. A couple minutes later Ruby had Baszler bridged while in a Kirafuda Clutch for a three count, but Jax distracted the ref. Ruby was knocked out and was easily pinned.
Morgan entered and bashed Lacey’s head into the mat several times. Liv leaped onto Lacey’s back and gave her a Crucifix Bomb to eliminate her. Jax and Baszler kept yelling at Lana to stay on the steps. Belair and Liv entered and faced off with Baszler and Jax briefly. Then they settled on Liv vs. Jax. Liv went aggressively after Jax, including an enzuigiri. Jax caught her and gave her a quick Samoan Drop for the three count. It came down to Belair for Team Smackdown.
Belair backflipped over Jax and knocked her down with elbows. She went for a splash, but Jax lifted her knees. Jax landed a running legdrop for a convincingly near fall. Graves said Belair was at risk of being mauled. Baszler tagged in and applied a Kirafuda Clutch right away. Belair suplexed out of it. She leaped backwards at Baszler with an elbow, but Baszler caught her and applied a Kirafuda Clutch again. Belair stood and the announcers were amazed. Belair reached for the bottom rope and dropped over it to force a break. Baszler didn’t break by five, so the ref DQ’d her. That was a way to “protect” both Belair and Baszler. Jax was upset by that and threw a fit at ringside. She grabbed Belair and set up a Samoan Drop on the announce table. Belair slipped free and shoved Jax into the ringside steps. Jax shoved Belair into the barricade. Jax charged, but Belair backdropped her over the barricade. The ref counted them both out. That left just Lana as the sole survivor. Lana entered, looking emotional. She declared, “I won! I’m the survivor!” Jax couldn’t believe what just happened.
WINNERS: Team Raw in 23:00. (**1/2)
(Keller’s Analysis: That was clever and fun finish given what they gave themselves to work with going in. Lana has a bragging point for surviving to rub in the faces of the bullies Jax and Baszler, but it was because she was ostracized from the match, not actually accomplishing anything. Still, the way she was treated, I can see fans being happy for her. They also “protected” Belair, Baszler, and Jax by not having any of them get pinned or submit.)
-A video package aired on the Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre match.
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(6) ROMAN REIGNS (w/Paul Heyman) vs. DREW MCINTRE – Universal Champion vs. WWE Champion
Reigns came out first, looking serious and focused as Heyman looked nervously at him the whole way to the ring. Then Drew made his entrance with the sword that’s a family heirloom given to him by Sheamus. They stared each other down during ring introductions and raised their respective belts. They locked up mid-ring at the bell to a stalemate. Drew laughed and nodded at Reigns and had a few words for him.
After two shoulder tackles, Reigns rolled to the floor to regroup. Reigns took over with a kick to the gut and some punches. They exchanged stints of deliberate offense and basic mat holds. At 12:00 Graves said Drew would have to figure something out soon because Reigns was grinding away at him. Drew made a comeback a minute later with an overhead toss and neckbreaker followed by his kip up. Cole said now Drew is in control. Drew waited for Reigns to stand, but Reigns avoided a Future Shock DDT and hit a Samoan Drop seconds later for a near fall. Drew came back with a spinebuster for a near fall. Reigns rolled to the floor.
Drew went after Reigns at ringside, throwing him into the ringpost, then whipping him into the ringside steps. Reigns came back with a right punch. Cole said the match has been so even. Reigns talked to Drew, “This is why I’m the man around here, number two.” Drew headbutted him. Reigns fired back with a high boot. Drew gave Reigns a boot. Reigns avoided a clothesline and landed a sudden Future Shock DDT for a dramatic near fall. Drew looked up shocked. Joe said Heyman lost his stoic disposition during that.
Drew stood first and waited for Reigns to stand to deliver a Claymore. Reigns countered with a Superman Punch. Reigns staggered. Reigns grabbed Drew, but Drew countered with an overhead toss. Drew pulled himself to his feet in the corner and charged again, but Reigns met him with a boot to the face. Reigns then threw Drew shoulder-first into the ringpost. “This has been a war!” said Cole. Reigns sat up and collected himself. Drew was down and gasping on the opposite side of the ring. When he stood, Reigns went for a spear. Drew rolled out of the way and rolled into a kimura lock mid-ring. Reigns was out of reach. “How humiliating would it be if Reigns tapped to the WWE Champion!” exclaimed Cole. Reigns did move over to grab the bottom rope to force a break. Reigns grabbed his arm in pain. Graves said he could have a torn ligament or dislocated elbow. Great sequence.
Drew charged Reigns on the floor, but Reigns gave him a Samoan Drop onto the announce desk. Reigns then lifted Drew and delivered another Samoan Drop that led to the table collapsing (or “exploding!” as Cole described it). When Drew stood, Reigns speared him into the barricade at ringside and then scored a believable near fall. “Are you kidding me?!” screamed Cole. “You’ve got to be kidding me!” Cole said Heyman just walked by them with a look of “what in the hell is going on!” Graves said these two may damn well destroy one another.
Reigns went for a spear, but Drew kicked him. Drew charged at him, but Reigns speared him. Drew kicked out again. That felt like the finish. Reigns looked up and snarled at the ref. Reigns looked over at Joe and said he’s seen this before. Cole acknowledged that it was a message sent to Joe. Reigns went for a spear, but Drew caught him with a Claymore. In the process, the ref went down and was knocked to the floor. Drew crawled over to check on the ref. Jey Uso ran to the ring. Drew knocked him off the ring apron. Drew yelled at him to get out. Reigns gave Drew a low-blow. Jey then entered and gave Drew a superkick. Reigns gave Drew a Superman Punch and then applied the guillotine. Drew resisted a bit before passing out. The ref called for the bell. Cole said those two warriors just did battle, and there’s a reason those two men are the Universal Champion and WWE Champion. Cole said, “If it wasn’t for Jey Uso, who in the hell knows what would have happened?”
WINNER: Reigns in 25:00. (****1/2)
(Keller’s Analysis: The first half was a little iffy in terms of pacing, but not disqualifying. And those last ten minutes were fantastic, with great body language and facial expressions from both. The finish won’t be satisfying for everyone. That’s fine. But for a first battle between these two in their current roles, and given the storyline of Jey wanting to redeem himself, this played logically into the storyline and didn’t ultimately give Reigns any bragging rights. Drew looked like he absolutely was Reigns’s equal, if not better, considering the ref bump. That’s a match people will pay to see a rematch for down the line.)
-After the match, Jey sat on the stage hoping for Reigns’s approval. Reigns and Heyman walked up to him. Reigns stood opposite of Jey, who was breaking heavily and looked at him nervously for his reaction. Reigns milked the moment, then brought him in for a hug. Jey said, “I gotcha.” They put their arms around each other as Reigns held the belt and said the belt stays with them and he can take Drew down when he wants to. Drew sat up looking disappointed in the outcome.
(Keller’s Analysis: Again, everyone hit their notes really well there. Jey has really shined in this and grown into his role. Reigns accepting the interference – actually, embracing it – shows where his ethics lie despite all the talk of wanting respect. Drew’s reaction in the ring was spot-on, too.)
UNDERTAKER “FINAL FAREWELL” CEREMONY
Mike Rome stood mid-ring to start the Undertaker “Final Farewell.” A series of big names from the last three decades came out: Shane McMahon, Big Show, JBL, Jeff Hardy, Mick Foley, Phinneous and Henry Godwinn, Savio Vega, Rikishi, Kevin Nash, Booker T, Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair, Triple H, and Kane.
Cole noted that the Godwinns were friends of Taker behind the scenes, part of an “infamous” group known backstage as the BSK (Bone Street Krew). He said Phinneous was also known as Mideon at one point in the Ministry of Darkness. Graves said he’s reliving his childhood as all these wrestlers walked out.
They went to a video package on Undertaker.
Afterward, Vince McMahon was standing in the ring. He gave a nice, warm speech about how all things come to an end, but Undertaker’s legend will live forever. He seemed genuinely emotional. Undertaker made an elaborate, long ring entrance, using the ThunderDome set to its fullest. An “Undertaker” chant was piped in, although certainly fans on the monitors at home were joining in.
Taker stood mid-ring with a mic in hand and looked around. “For 30 long years, I’ve made that slow walk to this ring and have laid people to rest time and time again,” he said. “And now, my time has come. My time has come to let the Undertaker rest in peace.” He looked choked up as he looked up, the hung his head as fog filled the ring and ringside area. He dropped the mic and looked around, then tipped his hat and kneeled. Paul Bearer’s voice said, “Oh yes.” Then he appeared in augmented reality with an urn next to Taker. More “Undertaker” chants as he kneeled under a blue spotlight. His bell sounded around ten times. He walked to the stage and pointed to the ceiling and lightning blasted from above. He then walked off stage and the show ended.
(Keller’s Analysis: Given the wrestlers who were brought out, it felt more a true tribute to his career than setting up an angle. Given how Vince McMahon delivered his message, it also felt less like an angle than a serious emotional farewell to the character. Taker stayed in character, which is the right move, and kept it right to the point and let the music and special effects and overall atmosphere tell the bulk of the story.)