LECLAIR’S WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 2021 REPORT: Alt perspective, detailed coverage of Reigns vs. Big E, Lynch vs. Flair, traditional Survivor Series matches, more

By Brandon LeClair, PWTorch contributor


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LECLAIR’S WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 2021 REPORT
NOVEMBER 21, 2021
BROOKLYN, NY AT BARCLAYS CENTER
AIRED LIVE ON PEACOCK (U.S.), WWE NETWORK (Int.)

Announcers: Michael Cole & Pat McAfee (Smackdown), Jimmy Smith & Corey Graves & Byron Saxton (Raw) – various combinations

-The opening video package mixed in scenes from Netflix’s Red Notice, starring Dwayne Johnson. The gist was that Survivor Series and the film are nothing without teamwork.

-Pyro shot from above and around the stage, followed by a sweeping wide shot of the Barclays Center. Michael Cole welcomed the audience to a Thanksgiving week tradition. He noted that the building was sold out, with over 15,000 in attendance.

Cole quickly shifted to the night’s opening match – Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair. He said a friendship has turned into a bitter and personal rivalry before tossing to a video package hyping up the match.

Smackdown Women’s Champion, Charlotte Flair entered first. She sported a new, glittery black robe with horns from the shoulders. Michael Cole welcomed Pat McAfee and Corey Graves to the commentary table with him.

Raw Women’s Champion, Becky Lynch headed to the ring in bright red gear with a studded red leather jacket. Lynch stared Flair down, never breaking her gaze as she walked slowly to the ring. Cole talked about their history as friends and opponents.

(1) BECKY LYNCH (Raw) vs. CHARLOTTE FLAIR (Smackdown)

Charlotte Flair caught Becky Lynch with a punch to the jaw as soon as the bell rang. Flair quickly backed Lynch into the corner, but the referee pulled the two women apart. Lynch quickly tripped Flair up and applied the Disarm-Her. Flair pulled at Becky’s hair to break free. The two women rolled in opposite directions and popped up. Flair gave Lynch a spear. The two rolled to the outside.

Lynch and Flair traded tosses into the ring post and barricade. Becky returned to the ring and waited for Flair to join her. A big “Becky” chant broke out. Lynch set up for the Man-Handle Slam, but Flair countered into a backbreaker. Charlotte followed up with a kick to the back of the neck. She looked around at the crowd, who booed her heavily.

Flair drove Lynch’s head and face into the mat repeatedly. She stepped on her head, utilizing the referee’s full count before letting up. Becky rolled to the apron. Flair went for a big boot, but Lynch side-stepped her. Flair maintained control by tossing Lynch into the ring post. Becky fell to the floor, Charlotte gloated.

Charlotte climbed to the top turnbuckle, looking for a moonsault to the outside. Lynch leapt onto the apron in a frenzy and shoved Flair off the top, to the floor. Flair’s face bounced off the barricade. She grabbed at her knee. Lynch went to capitalize, but Flair gave her a backdrop onto the barrier as the match hit 4:00.

Both women broke the referee’s count by returning to the ring at five. They crawled toward one another, talking trash and shaking with rage. They began exchanging hard slaps. Flair pounced, taking Lynch down with a hard clothesline. Flair mounted Lynch and slapped her repeatedly. Becky fought to her fit and caught Flair with a spinning back fist. Flair shook it off and dumped Lynch into the corner, peppering her with chops.

Lynch battled out of the corner, leaping on the middle rope and stomping on the back of Flair’s knee. She went for the Disarm-Her again, but Lynch rolled her into a cover for two. She deadlifted Lynch and gave her a powerbomb for another cover, but Becky kicked out at two. Flair covered the Raw Women’s Champion again, but Becky kicked again. Becky caught Charlotte in a roll up of her own for two. The two women then traded collisions with the turnbuckle.

Becky set up for a Bex-ploder out of the corner, but Flair blocked it and hit it herself, tossing Lynch haphazardly into the turnbuckle. Flair dragged Lynch toward the center. “Talk all your shit, Becky!” Flair yelled, “all these people know I’m the greatest.” Charlotte climbed to the top rope slowly, she went for the moonsault, but Lynch rolled out of the way. Flair hit a standing moonsault and covered for two.

Flair got in Lynch’s face as she tried to stand up. “Fight me!” Charlotte yelled. Lynch slapped her. Flair matched her. Becky tossed Flair to the apron, but Flair managed to guillotine Becky over the top rope. Charlotte returned to the apron. Becky quickly tangled her up and hit a leg drop off the middle turnbuckle, through the ropes. She covered Flair for a two count as the match approached 10:30.

“This is awesome!” The Barclays Center said as both women struggled to their feet. Becky clubbed at Charlotte’s back and neck. She tripped her into a modified Disarm-Her that transitioned into a cover for two. Flair popped to her feet and went for a big boot, but Lynch ducked it. Flair backed into Lynch for an awkward looking collision. Charlotte covered for another two count.

Lynch fought off a rear waist lock, but ran into a big boot. Flair set up for the Figure Four, but Lynch kicked her away. Charlotte went for a powerslam, but Lynch slid down her back and hit a diving reverse DDT. Becky rolled Flair toward the corner, but Flair grabbed at her ankle. Becky snapped, kicking and punching Flair to break free. Lynch climbed to the top rope and went for a leg drop, but Flair rolled out of the way Lynch hit part of her back with her lower legs. Both women wandered to their feet. Lynch caught Flair with the Man-Handle Slam. She covered, but Flair got her foot on the rope at the last moment.

Becky dragged Charlotte back toward center. She gave a “woo!” and applied a Figure Four. Flair screamed in agony, sitting up to punch wildly at Lynch. Charlotte rolled the hold over. Becky quickly grabbed the bottom rope. The two women struggled on the mat as the camera pulled back for Cole to reset.

Flair drove Lynch to the floor with a big boot. She climbed to the top turnbuckle again. She went for the diving moonsault and completely missed, but Lynch sold it like it landed. Commentary tried to cover it up. Flair rolled Lynch back in the ring and applied the Disarm-Her. Becky tried to drag herself to the bottom rope, and eventually reached it. Flair began chopping Lynch relentlessly, driving her to the corner. The two jostled for position. Flair rolled Lynch up, using the rope for leverage. The referee caught her stopped the count. Becky Lynch rolled Flair up and grabbed the rope herself. The referee missed it and counted to three.

WINNER: Becky Lynch in 18:18

(LeClair’s Analysis: Great match, with some caveats. Charlotte Flair’s moonsault to the outside is a problem in just about every match she uses it in, and it was no different here. She clearly missed it, just barely clipping Lynch’s arm at the last moment. Lynch sold it like it landed, leaving the announcers to awkwardly say she “may not have gotten all of it.” The finish was weak, but I expect nothing else here. WWE has no interest in putting either woman over strong or clean, so they go with the cheap roll up finish. I get that it’s Lynch just getting one over on Flair after the former attempted the same thing, but it doesn’t do anyone any favors. This Pay-Per-View is designed to establish supremacy of one champion over another, which is a corner WWE shouldn’t be volunteering to paint themselves into. More of than not, they realize they don’t actually want to establish dominance of one champion over the other, so we win up with finishes like this. I suspect this will be an ongoing theme tonight – really good wrestling with finishes that don’t work, and stories that commit to nothing. 

As an aside, Flair and Lynch worked incredibly stiff with one another. Flair’s chops were brutal and Lynch gave them right back. If there isn’t true heat between these two, they’ve gone to great lengths to ensure that it seems like there’s real animosity there.)

-A hype package for Drew McIntyre aired.

-Mike Rome introduced the men’s 5-on-5 Survivor Series elimination match, explaining the rules. Team Raw entered first, led by Bobby Lashley, wearing new red gear. Jimmy Smith took over lead play-by-play, joined by Pat McAfee and Byron Saxton. Smith tossed to video of Lashley being added to the match over Dominick Mysterio. Austin Theory, Finn Balor, Kevin Owens, & Seth Rollins each got their own entrance. Lashley and Rollins bumped fists as the crowd awaited Team Smackdown.

“King” Xavier Woods entered first for Team Smackdown. He was followed by Jeff Hardy. Byron Saxton narrated recap of Hardy’s victory over Sami Zayn to earn a spot on the team. Sheamus entered next, followed by Happy Corbin, and, finally, Drew McIntyre.

McAfee tried to up the stakes, saying the winner gets bragging rights for a full year. “Ratings can’t be the only thing that matters,” he said.

Team Raw immediately began arguing over who would begin the match.

(2) BOBBY LASHLEY (w/ M.V.P.) & AUSTIN THEORY & FINN BALOR & KEVIN OWENS & SETH ROLLINS (Team Raw) vs. “KING” XAVIER WOODS & JEFF HARDY & SHEAMUS & HAPPY CORBIN (w/ Madcap Moss) & DREW McINTYRE (Team Smackdown) – Traditional 5-on-5 Survivor Series Elimination match

Team Raw continued to argue over who would begin as the bell rang. It came down to Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins. Rollins finally relented and took to the apron, leaving Kevin Owens to square off with Xavier Woods. Owens immediately rolled to the outside and walked up the ramp. The referee counted him out at the 56 second mark, leaving Raw down 5-4 right away.

Drew McIntyre dropped Seth Rollins on the outside while Rollins protested Owens’ departure. In the ring, Austin Theory joined the match toe face Xavier Woods. King Woods tripped Theory into the ropes, then hit a quick dropkick. He covered for a one count. Woods worked Theory to the corner and tagged in Drew McIntyre.

McIntyre tossed Theory to the corner with ease. He gave him a chop that nearly sent Theory over the ropes. Drew gave him another, then tagged in Sheamus. Sheamus scrubbed his hands together, then gave Theory an equally blistering chop. Sheamus tagged in Happy Corbin for a chop of his own. Corbin gave Theory a quick punch. Theory fought him off and tagged in Seth Rollins.

Rollins went for a knee, but Corbin ducked him. Happy Corbin dropped Rollins with a bit clothesline then tagged in King Woods. Woods gave Rollins a chop, then invited a tag from Jeff Hardy. Jeff gave Rollins a double axe-handle from the middle rope. The crowd broke into a “Hardy” chant. Jeff splashed Seth for a one count, then tagged in Sheamus. Rollins quickly regained control, working over Sheamus’ arm and dragging him to the corner. Rollins tagged in Finn Balor.

Finn continued to work over Sheamus’ arm for a moment, but Sheamus managed to out power him, take hm down, and tag in Happy Corbin. Corbin tagged in Woods as the match crossed 5:00. Woods covered Balor for a two count. Team Smackdown continued to work Balor over in their corner, isolating him and slowing the pace. Drew McIntyre hit Finn with a stalling vertical suplex for a two count.

Balor eventually managed a flurry of offense, landing shots to every member of Team Smackdown. Madcap Moss caused enough distraction for Balor to run into a slam from Corbin. This led to the floodgates breaking open, with all members of both teams hitting the ring for a run of finishers. After most of the pandemonium had cleared, Corbin hit Austin Theory with a chokeslam, then ate a dropkick in the corner from Balor. Finn hit the Coup De Grace and pinned Corbin to eliminate him at 7:48., evening the match at 4-4.

Jeff Hardy entered the match to replace Corbin. Balor and Hardy traded shots until Balor finally reached his corner and tagged in Seth Rollins. Seth pounded on Hardy’s back and then tagged in Bobby Lashley. Lashley tossed Hardy in the corner and landed a strong running shoulder. Hardy crumpled to the mat, clutching his ribs. Lashley tagged Balor back in.

Finn Balor grabbed a grounded chin lock on Jeff Hardy. Hardy slowly fought to his feet, but Balor took him back down with a shot to the gut. Balor tagged in Rollins and the two teamed up to place Hardy on the top turnbuckle. Hardy fought them both off and hit Whisper in the Wind onto both Rollins and Balor. On the outside, Bobby Lashley grabbed Drew McIntyre and slammed him head first into the ring post.

Back in the ring, Rollins tagged in Austin Theory. Theory covered Hardy for a two count. Hardy rolled Theory into a small package for a two count, then dove to his corner to tag in King Woods. Woods landed a side kick to Theory’s head. Rollins rushed the ring and ate a rolling clothesline from Woods. Woods hit a spinning Russian Leg Sweep on Theory. He followed up with a kick to the gut, taking Theory down. Woods climbed to the top rope, but Lashley shoved him off.

Theory tagged in Lashley. Bobby set up in the corner, then hit the spear on Woods. He applied the Hurt Lock. Woods passed out at 13:22, giving Raw the 4-3 advantage. All men remaining in the match entered the fold. Balor hit a double sling blade, then jumped to the outside. He was caught by Sheamus. Rollins threw himself over the top, taking Sheamus down.

Bobby Lashley stood waiting for Jeff Hardy to stand. Hardy was down in his own corner. Drew McIntyre returned and tagged himself in. He and Lashley walked slowly toward the center of the ring and traded words. Lashley looked to his own corner to tag out, but found no one. McIntyre pounced, throwing right sand lefts at Lashley with abandon. Lashley shrugged him off, sent McIntyre to the corner and speared him. McIntyre wandered out and dropped Lashley with a clothesline. The two spilled to the outside. Lashley scooped Drew up again, but Drew slid down the back. The two brawled over into the timekeeper’s area. The referee counted them out at 16:15, eliminating both men.

Raw took a 3-2 advantage. Lashley and McIntyre continued to fight in the ring. McIntyre gave Lashley a Claymore. Referees spilled from the back to break them up. Seth Rollins tapped McIntyre on the shoulder, smirk on his face. He waved goodbye at Drew. McIntyre gave him a vicious Glasgow Kiss. Sheamus rushed in the ring to cover Rollins, but he kicked out at the last moment.

Sheamus punched Rollins around the ring. Seth managed to reach to Rollins for a tag. Finn rolled Sheamus up for a two count. Sheamus popped up, dropped Balor, and clothesline Rollins to the outside Sheamus gave Balor a spinning power slam and covered him for a two count. Balor fought to his feet and dropkicked Sheamus into the corner. He climbed quickly to the top rope and went for the Coup De Grace, but Sheamus rolled out of the way. popped up, and caught Balor with a Brogue Kick. Sheamus covered Balor for 3, eliminating him at 19:30.

Austin Theory caught Sheamus with a quick double boot to the face for a near fall. He tagged in Seth Rollins and the two worked Sheamus over. Rollins gave Sheamus a snap suplex for two. Rollins settled into a grounded chinlock. Sheamus slowly battled to his feet with shots to the gut. Sheamus managed to hit the Irish Curse Backbreaker and tag in Jeff Hardy. Hardy hit Rollins with a sit-out jawbreaker. Seth fell to the corner. Hardy tossed him to the mat, climbed to the second rope, and hit a splash for a two count.

Hardy tagged Sheamus back in. Theory entered the match. Hardy and Sheamus worked both remaining members of Team Raw into the corner. Sheamus dropped to his knees for Hardy to leap off of him for Poetry in Motion. After, the set up for tandem Ten Beats on the apron. Following the double team Austin Theory provided a distraction long enough for Rollins to catch Sheamus with a super kick. He covered for a near fall.

Rollins tagged in Austin Theory. Sheamus looked to tag Hardy, but Rollins pulled him off the ropes. Theory rolled up Sheamus for a three count at 24:39. Theory jawed at Sheamus. Sheamus punched him in the face. He checked on Jeff Hardy, then gave him a clothesline.

Theory dragged himself to his corner and tagged in Seth Rollins. Jeff rolled into position for Rollins to deliver a top rope frog splash for a near fall. Rollins tagged in Theory. They lifted Jeff to the top turnbuckle and set up for a double team superplex. Hardy fought them off with headbutts. Rollins fell to the outside. Theory fell to the mat. Hardy hit the Swanton Bomb and covered Theory for three, making it 1-on-1 at 26:54.

Rollins rose to his feet on the outside, realizing Theory had been eliminated. He returned to the ring slowly. Hardy invited him in. Jeff tried to lead the crowd in a “Hardy” chant, but it didn’t catch on. Hardy kicked Rollins in the gut and went for a Twist of Fate, but Seth spun out of it. He hit a Russian Leg Sweep, then leg drop to the backs of the legs for a cover and a two count. The camera pulled back and curiously timed “this is awesome” chant broke out.

Seth hit a ripcord elbow to the back of the head. He went for the stomp, but Hardy moved. He gave Rollins the Twist of Fate and climbed to the top rope. Hardy dove, but Rollins got his knees up and hit the stomp, covering for three.

WINNER: Seth Rollins (Team Raw) in 29:54

(LeClair’s Analysis: Good match, but it was hard to feel much excitement given how little this one meant. It lost a tone of steam once McIntyre and Lashley were eliminated. At that point, it became clear that Rollins was the only viable winner, and likely sole survivor. The crowd seemed to lose interest at that point, hardly able to come up for Hardy’s big comeback attempt at the end, and managing a meager and curiously timed “this is awesome” chant right as the camera happened to pull back on a wide shot. Certainly makes you question its legitimacy. These Survivor Series matches are almost always a lot of fun, and while I thought this was one of the weaker ones in recent memory, it was still an enjoyable enough 30 minutes. As previously mentioned, it’s just hard to become heavily invested in a bout this long when the outcome is entirely meaningless and the build just isn’t there. There was far more intrigue in the rivalries among partners than the brand-on-brand action, and they failed to really touch on that at all, save Owens’ walking out. Even Hardy and Sheamus largely worked in tandem despite their bitter and personal rivalry, until Sheamus threw the cheap clothesline at the end. That didn’t take away their jovial double teams earlier in the night, though. Ultimately, it was good to keep Rollins strong and give him the clean win in the end.)

-The announcers talked over a play of Vince McMahon arriving at the Barclays Center earlier in the night, carrying a golden egg and being cheered wildly and ridiculously by lower tier members of the roster.

-A clip of The Rock joining the corporation at Survivor Series 1998 was shown.

-Security was shown standing outside Mr. McMahon’s door. Roman Reigns walked into frame. He looked down at the security guard. The guard stepped aside. Reigns knocked and opened the door simultaneously. A camera was already in McMahon’s office. Reigns sat down. Vince said he wanted to show Reigns something. He pointed to the golden egg in a glass case. Reigns asked him what it is.

“It’s Cleopatra’s egg,” McMahon said. He said The Rock gave it to him as a gift. He said it’s not the stage prop used for Red Notice, but the real thing. “I’m told this is worth $100 million dollars,” McMahon said. Reigns shrugged, “almost as much as my next contract.” He got up and left.

(LeClair’s Analysis: I don’t know what they’re doing with the egg, but man, what a way to book Reigns here. Completely unintimidated by McMahon, with no attempt at emasculation. The contract line was brilliant. Great stuff.)

-Michael Cole joined Corey Graves and Byron Saxton for the Rock’s 25th anniversary battle royal. Sami Zayn, Ricochet, The Street Profits, A.J. Styles, & Omos got their own entrances. The Street Profits did promo work for Pizza Hut on their way to the ring. There were tables with Pizza Hut’s “Triple Threat Box” set up atop the ramp, and at ringside. The remainder of the competitors were already in the ring. The announcers wondered if members of each brand would work together, or if it would be every man for himself.

(3) THE ROCK’S 25th ANNIVERSARY BATTLE ROYAL

A.J. Styles left the ring through the bottom rope and climbed onto the announcers desk as the match began. Omos immediately tossed Drew Gulak and Shelton Benjamin over the top rope and to the floor. R-Truth slid to the outside and retrieved a piece of pizza. He tried to offer it to Omos, who just stared at him. Truth gave the pizza to Otis instead. Otis ate the pizza as Truth cheered him on. The crowd murmured with general disinterest.

Otis finished the pizza, then tossed R-Truth out of the ring with ease. Otis and Omos traded quick punches, but Omos quickly clotheslined Otis over the top rope, eliminating him. Cesaro and Chad Gable traded near eliminations. Gable caught Cesaro up in the ropes, but Cesaro broke free and gave Gable an uppercut to the outside, knocking him out. Meanwhile, Ricochet eliminated T-Bar.

The crowd chanted “we want pizza” as the match hit 3:00. Omos tossed Angel Garza to the outside. The Viking Raiders worked together to eliminate Jinder Mahal. Shanky tossed the Viking Raiders out with ease. The middle of the ring cleared for Shanky and Omos to go toe to toe. Each landed a quick chop, but Omos tossed Shanky out by the throat. Mansoor dropkicked Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode into the ropes. Ziggler bounced back and hit the ZigZag. He and Roode tossed Mansoor out.

Roode and Ziggler turned their attention to Omos. Omos tossed Roode out. Ziggler tried to beg him off. He asked Omos to be his friend. A.J. Styles leapt in the ring and hit the Phenomenal Forearm on Ziggler. Styles tossed Ziggler out. Sami Zayn looked around, realizing Smackdown’s ranks had fallen to just he, Cesaro, and Ricochet. He petitioned them to work together. He insulted them, so Ricochet drove his knee into Zayn’s face. He and Cesaro stood by as the Street Profits tossed Zayn out.

Ricochet and Cesaro teamed up to work on the Street Profits. Meanwhile, Omos clothesline Aziz out of the ring, tallying his sixth elimination at 7:39. Commander Aziz tried to pull Styles out of the ring on his way out. Omos caught him by the legs and the two began a tug-o-war. Apollo Crews kicked Omos in the back of the knee, causing him to drop Styles. A.J. fell to the outside. Omos was enraged, throwing Crews to the outside.

The crowd booed at Styles’ elimination. Omos was left to take on the Street Profits, Cesaro, and Ricochet on his own. They worked together to try to send him over, but Omos easily handled them all. He tossed out Cesaro, then Angelo Dawkins. Ford hit Omos with a hard slap, but Omos shrugged him off and threw Ford out with ease. Omos was left alone with Ricochet.

Ricochet kicked at Omos’ knees and shins. He tried to trip Omos over the ropes, but Omos held on, grabbed Ricochet by the throat and tossed him out for the win.

WINNER: Omos in 10:34

After the match, A.J. Styles tried to get pizza for Omos, but Montez Ford kicked him in the face. Ford tossed pizza out to the crowd and then ran up the ramp with the box. Michael Cole thanked Pizza Hut for sponsoring the Street Profits and “all 25 men in this battle royal.” Yikes.

(LeClair’s Analysis: Not a very good match at all. It was built to put over Omos, but the crowd simply wasn’t having it. They were disinterested from the start, and grew increasingly discontent as they guys they liked were eliminated in favor of a dominant showing for Omos. Omos didn’t do anything impressive, just blindly tossing bodies over the top rope. I get that they love his size, but at some point, he’s going to have to show more than he has or risk receiving go-away type heat. I wondered why they had this match on the show at all, and it turns out, its ultimate purpose wasn’t even really to get Omos over, but rather, to fill time and promote…Pizza Hut. The fans are going to see through the kind of thing every single time. This just felt like a huge waste of time.)

-A video of The Rock’s Royal Rumble win in 2000 aired.

-Jimmy Smith, Pat McAfee, and Byron Saxton recapped Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Damian Priest from the pre-show, featuring a potential Damian Priest heel turn.

-Smackdown Tag Team Champions, the Usos headed to the ring, followed by Raw’s Champions, RK-Bro. Smith announced that Orton was breaking the record for most Pay-Per-View matches in WWE history. The crowd popped big for Orton and Riddle as the posed on opposing turnbuckles. McAfee said he loves Riddle and Orton, but talked up the accolades of the Usos.

(4) THE USOS (Smackdown) vs. RK-BRO (Randy Orton & Riddle, Raw)

Riddle began the match with Jimmy Uso. They locked up in the center, but Riddle quickly took Jimmy over with a waist lock and arm bar. Jimmy fought free and shimmied his shoulders, getting loose. He kicked Riddle in the gut and backed him into the corner. Jimmy whipped Riddle to the opposing end of the ring, but Riddle leaped off the turnbuckle, over Jimmy, and caught him with a kick to the face.

The Raw Tag Team Champion, Riddle, deadlifted Jimmy into a gut wrench suplex. He tagged in Randy Orton. Jimmy quickly worked Orton into the corner and hit him with a hard chop. Jimmy went for a clothesline, but Orton ducked and went for the RKO. Jimmy blocked it rolled to the outside. The Usos hugged on the outside. Jimmy took his time getting back in the ring, then he tagged in Jey Uso.

Jey shouldered Orton into the corner and battered him until the referee broke them up. The crowd began a small dueling chant. Orton caught Jey with a thumb to the eye. He tagged in Riddle and helped him execute a standing moonsault. Riddle covered for a one count. Jey rolled to the outside. Riddle leapt to the apron and hit a PK kick, then a moonsault onto the floor, taking out Jey Uso.

Riddle returned to the ring, but Jimmy knocked him to the outside to allow Jey time to recover. Jey tossed Riddle back in the ring and covered him for two. Jey draped Riddle over the bottom rope and choked him. The referee admonished him, allowing Jimmy to stomp Riddle. Jey tagged in his brother.

Jimmy stalked Riddle as the match crossed the 5:30 mark. McAfee called the official a stooge for turning his back to the Usos. Jimmy Smith said McAfee has problems with authority. Jimmy tagged out. Jey worked Riddle into the corner and punched him to the mat. The Usos traded tags, wearing down Riddle with chin locks plodding punches. Riddle nearly reached Orton at one point, but Jimmy Smith pulled back and slammed him to the mat.

Riddle kicked out at two after a snap suplex and pin attempt by Jimmy. Orton tried to get the crowd riled up from his corner. Riddle hoisted Jimmy onto his shoulders and hit a modified GTS. Riddle reached Orton and made the tag. Jimmy tagged Jey. Orton hit the snap powerslam on Jey, then tossed him to the apron. He set up for the draping DDT, but Jey managed to fight him off and drop to the floor. Orton followed and gave him a backdrop onto the announcers desk. Jimmy rushed Orton, but Randy delivered the backdrop to him as well.

Orton get Jey back to the apron and executed the draping Hangman’s DDT. Orton pounded the mat, setting up for the RKO. Jey blocked it and hit a super kick. Orton fell to the corner. Riddle tagged himself in. Riddle hit a flurry of kicks to Jey. Jimmy hit the ring, but Riddle him with a pump kick. Riddle hit Jimmy with a exploder suplex out of the corner, then a standing senton. He gave Jey a standing senton. Jey shot to his feet and hit a neckbreaker for a two count at 11:24.

Riddle caught Jey with a German suplex and bridged for a two count. Jey rolled to his corner and tagged in Jimmy. The hit a tandem Samoan Drop for a near fall. Riddle and Jimmy pulled themselves to their feet. They traded punches into the Uso corner. Jimmy tagged Jey. Orton entered the ring, but the Usos took him out with double super kicks. Riddle rose to his knees, and the Usos double kicked him, too. Jey covered for a two count.

Jey tagged out. He hoisted Riddle onto his shoulders, but Riddle slid down the back and tossed Jey into the ring post. Riddle caught Jimmy with an enziguri. He tagged in Orton. Jimmy super kicked Orton off the ropes, but didn’t see the tag. Jimmy dropped Riddle, climbed to the top rope and went for the splash on Riddle. Orton came out of nowhere and hit the RKO in mid-air for the pin.

WINNERS: RK-Bro in 14:45

(LeClair’s Analysis: Fun match. The Usos are excellent in just about every situation, and the chemistry between Orton and Riddle has grown significantly. I do think that this pairing has become more annoying than entertaining, but the crowd reactions certainly indicate that I’m in the minority with that opinion. That’s fine – it’s simply no longer for me. The Usos have taken quite a number of losses lately, though, and I wonder if they would’ve been better served getting a win here, even a cheap one. WWE has done very little in the way of drawing attention to brand win count tonight, save for a few mentions on commentary, but this did give Raw a clean sweep on the night thus far, with the exception of the pre-show disqualification. This isn’t a huge deal, considering they rarely, if ever, mention the winner after the night is over. They’ve also paid very little lip service to the “brand warfare” aspect of the show in the lead up. I think we’re better for it, though I wish they’d just scrap the concept altogether and book matches that matter.)

-25th Anniversary packaged for The Rock rolled on, this time with his victory over John Cena at WresteMania 28.

-Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville joined Mr. McMahon in his office. Vince congratulated them on a great show thus far, then realized that his egg was gone. “Call the cops!” Vince yelled. Sonya ran off in a mad dash. McMahon wondered aloud who could have taken the egg. Pearce said it could’ve been one of their Superstars. Vince said it’s probable. He told Pearce to interview everyone. Vince said if he doesn’t find the culprit, every Superstar needs to be at Raw so he can get to the bottom of it. “Thieves…” Vince said to himself.

(LeClair’s Analysis: Why has McMahon written himself to be a comedic fool? This doesn’t come off like a guy with power or control, but rather, a senile old man concerned with a ridiculous prop egg that no one is buying. This is just weird. But, hey, look, they get to ignore the brand split tomorrow!)

-Another comic preview aired for Xia Li.

-Mike Rome introduced the women’s 5-on-5 Survivor Series elimination match at explained the rules. Bianca Belair entered first, leading off Team Raw. She wore gear covered in the Raw logo. Carmella entered and Corey Graves silenced his partners, Cole and Saxton. Queen Zelina Vega, Liv Morgan, and Rhea Ripley followed. Graves contended that Raw had a more united front.

Natalya entered first for Team Smackdown, followed by Shayna Baszler. Toni Storm entered next to a pretty strong reaction from the crowd. Shotzi entered as Cole tossed to a clip of her ongoing issues with Sasha Banks. Sasha’s music hit and the seat of wrestlers parted for her to take her spot in the center. Saxton mentioned that Smackdown’s women all came to the ring together.

(5) BIANCA BELAIR & CARMELLA & “QUEEN” ZELINA VEGA & LIV MORGAN & RHEA RIPLEY (Team Raw) vs. NATALYA & SHAYNA BASZLER & TONI STORM & SHOTZI & SASHA BANKS (Team Smackdown) – Traditional 5-on-6 Survivor Series Elimination match

Toni Storm began the match with Carmella. Carmella talked some trash, then threw a right elbow to Storm’s face. She called a time-out to retrieve her mask. Carmella tagged in Zelina Vega and went to the outside. Zelina tossed Storm in the corner and drove her boot into Toni’s face. Zelina tagged Carmella back in, but her mask still wasn’t strapped on. Rhea Ripley ripped the mask off. Toni rolled up Carmella for a three count at just over 1:00 gone. 5-4 advantage, Smackdown.

Toni Storm tagged in Sasha Banks as Bianca Belair stepped in for Raw. Shotzi tagged herself in and cornered Banks back to the apron. Sasha let it go. Belair locked up with Shotzi and took her down to the mat as the crowd opened up a small “EST” chant. Shotzi took Belair down and gave a quick standing splash for a one count. Shotzi grabbed an arm lock. Belair rolled through it and used her lower body to sit Shotzi. Belair tagged in Liv Morgan.

Shotzi caught Morgan with a pair of jawbreakers, then quickly tagged in Natalya. Nattie slammed Morgan and covered for a two count. Morgan rolled up Natalya for a two count of her own. The two traded another set of roll ups. Nattie deadlifted Morgan off the mat, stomped on her foot and hit a tossing backdrop. Nattie stepped over Liv, ran the ropes and hit a basement dropkick for a two count.

Liv Morgan battled back with a basement dropkick on Nattie. She cornered Nattie and tagged in Rhea Ripley. Ripley gave Natalya a pair of short arm clotheslines, then a ripcord headbutt. Ripley dropkicked a seated Natalya and covered for two as the match approached 6:00. Nattie and Rhea traded a pair of punches. Natalya hit a release German suplex, then tagged in Shayna Baszler. Shayna and Nattie executed a double suplex. Baszler worked over Ripley’s arm and tried to stomp on her hand, but Ripley blocked it, rose to her feet, and punched Baszler in the face.

Ripley set up for the Riptide, but Baszler blocked it and hit a reverse gut wrench. She covered for two. Baszler sent Ripley to the corner and ran for a knee. Ripley sidestepped it. Banks put herself in position to receive a tag. Shotzi pulled her off the apron and shoved her to the mat. Back in the ring, Baszler and Ripley traded back elbows. Ripley set up for Riptide again, but Shayna elbowed out of it. Rhea positioned Baszler on the top rope, but Shayna caught her in a triangle to the mat. She tried to transition into the Kirifuda Clutch, but Ripley blocked it. Women from both teams spilled into the ring, but were handled one by one. Baszler and and Ripley were left alone, each crawling to their corners.

Bianca Belair and Sasha Banks were tagged in, stopping the crowd’s ongoing attempt to entertain themselves. Belair and Banks traded quick holds and counters. Banks tripped Belair into the Bank Statement as the crowd led a dueling chant. Belair managed to reach the ropes, but Bianca rolled through and lifted her up for the K.O.D. Banks elbowed her way out of it. Belair managed to hit a Fallaway slam. She kipped up, then knocked Natalya off the apron. Banks tried for the Backstabber, but Belair dumped her in the corner.

Banks hit a tornado DDT off the middle rope and covered. Rhea Ripley made the save. Banks knocked Ripley to the outside. She went for the Bank Statement, but Belair tossed her aside and caught her with a Spinebuster. Belair folded her up for a two count. Belair set up for the Kiss of Death. She flipped her, but Sasha held onto Belair’s braid. Belair stumbled toward the corner. Zelina Vega tagged herself in. Belair body pressed her onto Banks for a two count.

Banks fell to her corner while all of her partners watched from the apron, pretending to be hurt. The crowd began a “C.M. Punk” chant. Toni Storm finally climbed to the apron, tagging in. She slammed Vega and covered her for three at 14:05. 5-3 Smackdown. Liv Morgan entered. She and Toni traded quick roll ups. Morgan appeared to have Storm beat, but Baszler broke it up. Morgan caught storm with Oblivion and pinned her for the elimination at 15:18. 4-3, advantage Smackdown.

Shayna Baszler entered. Liv Morgan hut a flurry of offense, but Baszler caught her in the Kirifuda. She dragged her toward the corner and allowed Shotzi to tag in. Shotzi splashed Morgan but not before Banks tagged herself in. Sasha splashed Morgan and eliminated her at 16:29. Smackdown maintained the advantage, 4-2. The crowd booed.

Rhea Ripley took over for Team Raw and caught Banks with a headbutt. She deadlifted Banks by the lower body, then transitioned into a stalling suplex. She covered Banks for two. Ripley climbed to the top rope and hit a flying missile dropkick. Banks tagged in Shotzi, then hit Ripley with the Backstabber. Shayna tagged in and kicked Ripley in the face, pinning her for three at 17:59.

Shayna tagged in Natalya, who quickly pounced on Bianca Belair, Raw’s only remaining member. Nattie hit a spinebuster and tagged in Sasha Banks. Shotzi got in the ring to argue with Banks. Sasha tossed Shotzi out. Shotzi pulled Banks to the outside. Banks shoved Shotzi into Shayna Baszler. Baszler shoved Banks. Banks shoved Baszler and tried to get back in the ring. Natalya pulled her out. The referee counted Banks out at 20:00. The crowd booed with discontent.

Natalya stepped in the ring to take over for Smackdown. She applied a Sharpshooter on Bianca Belair. Belair kicked Nattie away, then rolled her into a small package for a there count at 21:25. 2-1, advantage Smackdown. Shayna Baszler grabbed the Kirifuda Clutch on Belair, but Bianca slipped out of it, front-slammed Baszler and pinned her at 22:10.

The match came down to Bianca Belair and Shotzi. Shotzi wrapped Belair up in the ropes, choking her. She used the referee’s full count. Shotzi climbed to the top rope and hit a weak looking cross body, but Belair rolled through it and hoisted her up. Shotzi used the hair to slide down Belair’s back and regain control. She tripped Belair into the ropes and threw her body onto Bianca’s neck. Shotzi went for a tornado bulldog, but Belair blocked it, flipped her over and hit the Kiss of the Death for a three count.

WINNER: Bianca Belair (Team Raw) in 23:46

(LeClair’s Analysis: A good, strong win for Bianca Belair against the odds, but this match suffered from a complete lack of crowd interest, and, at times, outright rejection. I didn’t think it was bad. It was more or less on par with the men’s match. That is to say, it doesn’t stand up well against past year’s Survivor Series matches, but it was a fun enough 20+ minutes. I disliked the “swerve” of presenting Team Smackdown as having better chemistry, only to have the heels undo their run by getting into a petty argument with Sasha Banks. This was also hurt by the similar layout and booking to the men’s match earlier. Though they deviated late, the opening minutes of the match played out in almost identical fashion, with a quick, surprise elimination followed by several plodding minutes of Smackdown control.)

-The Rock’s 25th Anniversary was celebrated again with a package showing his return to Smackdown two years ago.

-Kayla Braxton scared Paul Heyman backstage. He said he knows nothing about who stole Mr. McMahon’s egg, but accused the “arena full of people from Brooklyn.” Kayla pivoted, asking for his opinion on the rumor that Brock Lesnar’s suspension is “no longer indefinite.” Heyman said she should instead ask that question of Adam Pearce, since he’s the one with the Lesnar problem.

-A hype video for Bobby Lashley aired.

-Back at the announcers desk, Cole said Survivor Series is the final Pay-Per-View of 2021. He promoted Day 1 in Atlanta on January 1st. The announcers then turned their focus to the main event, tossing to a video package hyping Roman Reigns vs. Big E.

-WWE Champion, Big E entered first. Cole said that Big E is the “feel good story of 2021.” Graves said he’s never seen Big E so focused. Pat McAfee talked up Universal Champion, Roman Reigns as his music hit. Reigns sported his Pay-Per-View lei necklace and was flanked by Paul Heyman. Graves said that injuring Kofi Kingston and humiliating Xavier Woods has lit a fire under Big E that Roman Reigns may grow to regret.

Cole wondered if Reigns might be distracted by the news that Brock Lesnar’s suspension may have an end-date in sight. McAfee said none of that matters and Roman will continue to carry WWE. Big E and Reigns exchanged words as the referee stood between them. Reigns passed his lei and Championship to Paul Heyman.

(6) BIG E (Raw) vs. ROMAN REIGNS (Smackdown)

Roman Reigns and Big E circled the ring slowly to begin the match. After a brief stare down, they locked up. The crowd began a small, short lived “let’s go Roman” chant. After a clean break in the corner between the two, a small “Rocky” chant broke out. Roman Reigns left the ring to gather himself as Big E paced the ring.

“You better get your mind right for me!” E yelled to Reigns. Roman stepped back in the ring confidently. They circled again. Reigns grabbed a waist lock. Big E countered into one of his own. The two traded elbows and right hands. Reigns came off the ropes with a leaping clothesline and covered for a one count.

Reigns pounced on the downed Big E, unloading several big right hands. Big E used the ropes to pull himself up. Reigns didn’t let up, tossing E to the corner and continuing his strikes. The referee admonished Reigns, but the Universal champion shrugged him off. Reigns telegraphed an Irish whip from Big E and kicked him in the head. E shook it off, kicked Reigns in the gut and slid him toward the apron.

Big E set up shop on the apron. He went for the big apron splash, but Reigns moved. E’s body collided with the edge of the ring and he rolled to the outside, favoring his knee. Reigns smelled blood, circling the ring and hitting the Drive-By. Reigns held one arm up, inviting the crowd’s disdain. They only murmured.

Reigns tossed Big E back in the ring and drove him into the corner. The referee forced separation, allowing Big E to come out. Reigns dropped him with a stiff uppercut. He covered for one. Reigns hit a leaping elbow into the heart of the WWE Champion. He grabbed a side headlock as the match approached 6:00. Big E fought to his feet and free of the hold, but Reigns cut him off with a big back elbow. Both men sat in the center of the ring, catching their breath. Heyman talked up his man.

Roman scoffed at a weak “New Day Rocks” clap. He dropped Big E with a big boot and covered him for a two count. Reigns started talking trash to the crowd, trying, unsuccessfully, to rile them up. He tossed Big E to the outside. He slammed E into the barricade, then tossed him into the ring post. He again invited the crowd’s vitriol, but they didn’t seem to have any. The referee began counting both men out. Reigns returned to the ring to break the count at eight. He rolled back to the outside. “This ain’t New Day, this ain’t no comedy crap,” Reigns talked down the E. Big E rallied with an Irish whip into the steel steps.

Both men answered the referee’s second count at nine. The match approached 10:00 as both men slowly rose to their feet. Reigns went for a right hand, but E caught him with an overhead belly-to belly. Reigns popped up and Big E gave him another one. He finished with a third, straight belly-to-belly. E lead a “New Day Rocks” clap, then hit the ropes. Reigns scooped him and hit E with a Samoan Drop for a two count.

Reigns went back to work in the corner. E briefly countered, trying to another belly-to-belly, but Reigns cut him off with a right hand. E stumbled to the corner. Reigns shared, but E caught him with a Uranagi and covered for a near fall. Big E set up for the Stretch Muffler submission. He got Reigns up and off the mat, but Reigns rolled through and into a roll up for two. Reigns deadlifted E into a one arm sit-out Powerbomb for a near fall.

The crowd booed Reigns as he set up for the Superman Punch. Big E ducked it, but Reigns grabbed him and hit a Rock Bottom for a two count. Another “Rocky” chant ensued. Reigns cocked his fist again, this time hitting the Superman Punch. E only fell to one knee. Big E shook it off and stood up. Reigns hit another one. Big E pounded the mat and stood up again. Reigns hit a third Superman Punch. The crowd came alive for this, showering Reigns in boos. he taunted them.

Roman set up for the Spear, throwing his head back. When he looked down, he saw Big E standing and ready. E tossed Reigns to the apron and speared him through the middle rope to the floor. He tossed Reigns back in the ring as the match passed 16:45. Reigns came alive and hit a Spear out of nowhere. He hooked the leg for a believable near fall. Both men were laid out.

A loud, dueling chant broke out, the crowd now fully engaged. Reigns stood first, jawing at Big E as he watched him struggle to stand. Reigns grabbed the guillotine, but E lifted him and drove him into the corner to break the hold immediately. Reigns stumbled to the apron. E went for the middle rope spear again, but Reigns caught him and applied the guillotine. Reigns stepped through the ropes and walked E to center. He leapt into E’s arms to fully lock it in. Big E lifted Reigns out of the clutch, onto his shoulders, and hit the Big Ending. He covered, but Reigns got his foot on the bottom rope.

Reigns rolled to the outside, gasping for air. E followed, now suddenly full of life. He slammed Reigns’ head into the announcers desk, then tossed him into the ring post. Reigns stumbled blindly. E tossed him into the barricade. He tolled in the ring to break the count. “Let’s play a game,” E said to Reigns. He set up a whip into the steps, but Reigns countered it into one of his own. E clutched at the knee injured earlier in the match.

Roman hit a running Superman Punch off the steps. He tossed E back in the ring. Big E recovered enough to scoop Reigns up for the Big Ending, but Reigns slid down his back. Roman kicked E in the back of the injured knee, hit the ropes, and connected with a spear for the three count.

WINNER: Roman Reigns in 21:54

(LeClair’s Analysis: Really good match that started off slow and then got going in a big, hard-hitting way. The crowd hurt this one, being completely disinterested for the first 12-15 minutes. That’s not their fault, though, WWE gave them so little to get up and get excited about tonight that, at the 3+ hour mark of the show, there’s no real surprise that they were a little worn out and underwhelmed. The finish felt a little underwhelming, too, given that the crowd very clearly expected some sort of appearance or involvement from The Rock. They teased it a little too much, and I think they worked the crowd into believing it was actually coming. The clean win for Reigns establishes his clear dominance over Big E, and while the WWE Champion looked good in defeat, he definitely loses some of the momentum they’ve created for him in recent months. E was the one who had a personal reason for wanting to face Reigns, and, when push came to shove, he couldn’t get the job done. It’s just not a great spot to your babyface champion in, but I don’t think having Reigns lose was the right answer either.)

FINAL THOUGHTS: There was nothing inherently wrong with this show. Outside of the battle royal, there were no bad matches. There was nothing overly egregious. I thought everything delivered relative to its lack of hype. It felt decidedly empty, though. In past years, though I’ve vehemently disagreed with WWE’s attempt at manufacturing heated competition between the two brands, they at least made an attempt to convince the audience that these matches meant something, even for a night. This year, they simply made no qualms about this being completely throwaway. The announcers made little mention of brand supremacy. Raw, though dominant throughout the night, losing only the main event, did not declare victory. The announcers were focused simply on the result of the match at hand. The Rock was teased heavily throughout the night with video packages, references from Vince McMahon, and a Rock Bottom delivered by Reigns in the main event. They sold it enough that it appeared as though the crowd had genuinely worked themselves into a belief that he might show up, and that drastically impacted crowd reaction for the main event. This was the first time since live crowds returned that fans came close to hijacking the show – almost completely rejecting the women’s Survivor Series match, and refusing to invest in the main event until the closing minutes. It’s hard to fault them – they likely feel like they paid a lot of money for a show that underdelivered both in terms of hype, and execution, then got swerved into thinking they’d be seeing The Rock.

I don’t think you’ll walk away from this feeling like you completely wasted your time, nor can I confidently say that you’ll feel fulfilled. It was a lot like eating empty calories in that way. The wrestlers worked hard, but this just felt like a night you move on from tomorrow and never really talk about again. Full of fluff and fodder that appeals to no one, and worse yet, gets no one over. It’s time to move on from this concept.

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