SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
KELLER’S WWE SURVIVOR SERIES PLE REPORT
NOVEMBER 24, 2022
STREAMED LIVE ON PEACOCK
Commentators: Michael Cole, Cory Graves
-They opened with a video package focused on WarGames.
-They went live to the arena with two rings set up side by side and a gigantic cage suspended over them, slowly being lowered.
(1) BIANCA BELAIR & ALEXA BLISS & ASUKA & MIA YIM & BECKY LYNCH vs. BAYLEY & IYO SKY & DAKOTA KAI & NIKKI CROSS & RHEA RIPLEY – Women’s WarGames match
The competitors all made separate ring entrances and each team got inside a cage on the stage waiting for her turn.
Belair and Kai battled the first five minutes. Then Sky entered giving the heels a two-on-one advantage. There was spot in the corner where Sky slipped a couple times doing a swinging knee spot. Fans booed. Graves said it’s natural for anyone to have nerves in a match like this. Asuka entered fourth to even the sides. She and Sky had a minute or so of athletic exchanges while Kai stood over Belair in the other ring. Cross entered fifth and brought kendo sticks and trash can lids with her. Bliss then entered sixth to even the ods. Everyone began hitting each other with kendo sticks. Nikki sat on top of the corner of the cage and smiled down at them. Nikki dove onto a crowd below.
Bayley then came out to give her team the advantage. She pulled a ladder out from under the ring. Fans cheered. Then a “We Want Tables!” chant rang out. Bayley grabbed a table from under the ring which got the biggest pop of the night. Bayley and Sky bridged a table on the middle ropes between the rings, then shoved the side of the table into Belair. Nikki yanked on Belair’s braid to send her head-first into the table. Bayley, Sky, and Kai triple-teamed Bliss, then turned to Asuka. Next out was “Michin” Mia Yim. She threw a trash can into the ring. It took two tries to get the second trash can into the ring. She went for more weapons, and Graves pointed out her teammates might want her to help them quickly instead of grabbing more apparatus. They all paired off in various corners on the top rope and hit spots one after another.
With everyone down and slow to get up, Ripley was the last heel entrant. She ran to the ring with a wide smile. Ripley tossed several wrestlers around methodically. Nikki stood on the top rope and bounced up and down like a little kid on a playground. Sky ran the ropes back and forth. Cole said he wasn’t sure what she was doing. She eventually landed a basement slidekick to Asuka. They showed Becky pacing in the cage. She charged out when the timer his zero.
The ring announcer said, “Now let the WarGames begin!” Cole said the first person to get a pinfall or submission wins. Becky put a trash can over the head of Sky who was on the ring apron sticking through the ropes. Becky legdropped the can and Sky flipped over. Ripley and Becky had “a moment” mid-ring. Ripley powerbombed Becky after some help and scored the first near fall of the match. Asuka sprayed Ripley with her mist. Becky then DDT’d Ripley. Bayley stomped away at Becky and boasted to the fans. She gave Becky a Rose Plant on the steel plate connecting both rings leading to a two count, broken up by Asuka. Belair was going to powerbomb everyone but Nikki out of the corner off the top ropes, but Nikki intervened. Instead, the wrestlers knocked each other down. Belair drove Bayley to the mat in move that was botched and could have been much worse, with Becky landing on her head and neck awkwardly.
Sky climbed to the top of the cage and moonsaulted onto Belair and Yim below. Fans chanted “Holy shit!” With everyone down and slow to get up, a “This is awesome!” chant rang out. Nikki then went after Bliss, yelling “You think I forgot!” Nikki handcuffed Bliss. Cole said they used to be best friends. Nikki handcuffed Bliss. Bliss resisted being cuffed to the cage or rope and instead handcuffed Nikki’s wrist. Bliss back suplexed Nikki onto a trash can. Both were down and slow to get up. Ripley powered up Asuka and threw her into the side of the cage. Yim countered a Riptide by Ripley into a sleeper. Ripley leaped backwards through a ladder in the corner. The ladder bent in half. Another “Holy shit!” chant broke out.
Everyone who could, stood and faced off and exchanged heated words. Then they swung away at each other. Becky gave a Manhandle Slam to Kai. Belair gave Sky a KOD seconds later. Cole said Becky and Belair were working well together. They set up a table in he corner and then stacked Kai and Sky. Bayley tried to climb the cage to go after Becky up top, but Belair yanked her down and threw her into the cage. Becky then landed a senton legdrop hybrid on both women through the table for the win, scoring the three count on Kai. The babyfaces all stood together afterward, arms raised. Yim looked like she had the worst hangover any person has ever had and was doing everything she could to not just collapse.
WINNERS: Belair & Yim & Bliss & Asuka & Lynch in 40:00. (****)
(Keller’s Analysis: Tremendous start to the show. Some scary spots that went wrong or looked dangerously close to going wrong, with some other high-impact moments where they didn’t seem in total control of how they’d land, but they pulled off the vast majority of big spots well. They really played up Becky and Belair working together and focused on them celebrating together after the match, so expect more of them together and eventually a match.) [c]
-A video package aired on the happenings with The Bloodline on Smackdown the night before.
-In the locker room, Jey Uso told Roman Reigns that from day one, he told him Sami Zayn couldn’t be trusted. He said he saw Sami and Kevin Owens chatting together earlier. He asked what they should do about it. Paul Heyman was in the background listening in, holding both of Reigns’s belts. Reigns told Jey to do what he says, and said he is going to be the Tribal Chief and worry about everything else. Reigns said he’ll look him in his eyes, man to man, and he’ll know if he’s telling the truth and where his loyalties lie. “Focus on tonight,” Reigns said. Jey said okay and walked away. Heyman smiled in the background. Reigns then told Heyman to get Sami. Heyman told his phone to “call Sami Zayn.”
-They went to Cole and Graves at ringside. Graves said it’s much ado about nothing. [c]
(2) A.J. STYLES (w/Karl Anderson, Luke Gallows) vs. FINN BALOR (w/Dominik Mysterio, Damian Priest)
The announcers talked about the history of Balor and Styles in Bullet Club and how each think they’re a better leader than the other, and that’s what this match is about. A few minutes in, Graves said Balor realizes it’s not about making the fans in the crowd happy, but it’s about winning matches and succeeding. Dominik tripped up Styles on the ring apron. Gallows and Anderson cornered him at ringside and punched and kicked him. Priest came to Dominik’s defense. They kept up a steady but methodical pace, taking turns on sustained offense for a while.
Balor landed a lift-and-drop gutbuster on his knees for a two count. Styles came back a minute later with an inverted DDT after a springboard backflip off the middle ropes for a two count. Styles applied a Calf Crusher mid-ring. Balor cried out in agony. He teased tapping a few times. Styles landed a Phenomenal Forearm for the clean win shortly thereafter. Styles had some intense words for Balor after the match as Balor recovered sitting in the corner.
WINNER: Styles in 18:00. (***)
(Keller’s Analysis: A good basic match from these two. Nothing memorable, but they knew their place on this show and this was a “catch your breath” match for the crowd. They didn’t aim to make this epic.) [c]
(3) RONDA ROUSEY (w/Shayna Baszler) vs. SHOTZI – Smackdown Title match
Shotzi went after Rousey aggressively at the bell. Rousey countered into an early anklelock. Shotzi charged Rousey in the corner. Rousey rolled to the floor. Shotzi dove through the ropes at Rousey, but Baszler shoved Rousey out of the way so Shotzi landed on her instead. Shotzi got up and quickly threw Rousey into the ringside steps. Back in the ring, Shotzi knocked Baszler off the ring apron. Rousey tried to attack her from behind, but Shotzi moved. Shotzi went for a top rope dive, but Rousey turned it into a turning powerslam out of mid-air. Rousey got up and threw some kicks, then yelled, “I can beat you with my feet!” Shotzi stood and swept Rousey. Rousey countered Shotzi into a leglock. She wrapped her up with a leg and arm submission hold. Shotzi caught Rousey with a punch. The announcers made a big deal out of it.
Shotzi went for a DDT on the ring apron, but Rousey got held up in the ropes and Shotzi crashed to the mat before Rousey. The announcers said they weren’t sure who got the worst of it. Baszler went after Shotzi and ended up giving her an overhead suplex with a little extra shove by Rousey. Shotzi dumped back Rousey and Baszler over the ringside barricade. Shotzi leaped onto both of them and knocked over some “fans” on a row of chairs which tipped over. They replayed it in slo-mo. The “fans” stayed down, selling the impact. Back in the ring, Rousey delivered a top rope armdrag for a near fall. She followed with a Piper’s Pit followed by an armbar for the tapout win.
WINNER: Rousey in 7:00 to retain the Smackdown Title.
(Keller’s Analysis: More awkward, unorthodox, and clunky than usual for both of these wrestlers. It seemed mostly due to Rousey being inexperienced with some of the spots they did. Right finish and right length, and it was competitive and filled a solid mid-card slot in the sense that it gave a secondary-level challenger a title shot, but a clean decisive win for the champ.) [c]
-Reigns had a meeting with Sami backstage. Heyman continued to look on from about ten feet away in the background, still with both belts over his shoulders. Sami9 was all smiles when he sat down, excited that Reigns was giving him attention. Reigns asked Sami if he was talking to Kevin Owens. (It was on national TV, after all.) Sami admitted it, after a brief pause weighing his lack of options. Reigns asked why he lied to Jey. Sami said he “withheld some information” and “lied to Jey” because he had a huge match with the advantage for tonight’s match, so he didn’t want to put anything on his plate. He said he wouldn’t have understood and already didn’t trust him. Sami said KO talked to him, he didn’t talk to KO. He said he listened and then KO left.
Reigns asked what KO said. Sami said that he should turn on The Bloodline before The Bloodline turns on him. Reigns said he gets that KO was his friend, but he said he needed Sami to understand that this is his family and his blood. He said he needed Sami to look him in the eyes and let him know if he’s with him or if he’s going to stab them in the back out there. Sami looked at him and told him he is with him. He said there are five people on the planet who are allowed in The Bloodline locker room, and that isn’t lost on him. “That means the world to me,” he said. He vowed not to let him down tonight or any night. “I am with The Bloodline,” he emphatically said. Reigns absorbed his words and stared at him for ten seconds. Then he stood and told Sami to “get up.” Sami stood. Reigns smiled and said, “Let’s do it.” He offered a hug. Sami hugged him. Heyman looked on with concern in the background.
-Postcard shots aired of Boston.
-They went to Cole and Graves on camera who reacted to the Sami-Reigns situation. Cole plugged the WarGames press conference airing after Survivor Series on various platforms.
(4) SETH ROLLINS vs. AUSTIN THEORY vs. BOBBY LASHLEY – U.S. Title match
Lashley came out first. Theory came out and posed on the corner ropes and strutted around the ring. Seth got a big positive reaction. Lashley knocked Theory over the top rope at the start with a clothesline, then turned to Seth. When Theory tried to re-enter the ring, Seth knocked him down. Seth and Lashley went at it. Theory got back in the ring. Lashley beat him up, and then fended off Seth. Lashley gave both a DDT at the same time. Lashley lifted Theory onto his shoulders and then rammed Theory into Seth to knock him down “Human wrecking ball,” said Cole. Lashley then dropped Seth off his shoulders and scored a two count, stopped when Theory yanked the ref out of the ring. Cole said there are no DQs in a triple threat match (which remains a stupid rule).
At ringside, Theory tried to jab Lashley with a chair, but Lashley blocked it. Theory shoved Lashley into a ringpost. Seth then leaped at Lashley with a knee from behind, then threw Lashley into the ringside steps. Seth began to lift the steps, but Theory attacked him. Back in the ring, Theory took over for a while. Seth came back with chops and a slingblade and a superkick. Seth then launched himself through the ropes at Lashley on one side of the ring, then did the same to Theory on the other side. When Lashley stood, Seth speared him again. Seth then threw Theory to ringside and did a flip dive, knocking Lashley down and overshooting Theory entirely. Seth landed a sitout powerbomb for a near fall on Theory back in the ring. Everybody was down and slow to get up.
Seth went for a Stomp on Theory, but Lashley pulled Theory out of the way and then put Seth in a Hurt Lock. Theory leaped onto Lashley’s back and applied a sleeper. Lashley let go of Seth and dumped Theory over the top rope. Seth gave Lashley a Pedgree for a near fall. Seth climbed to the top rope and went for a Phoenix Splash, but Lashley moved. Theory knocked Seth out of the ring, then hit Lashley with a rolling blockbuster. He signaled for A-Town Down, but Lashley slipped free and put on a Hurt Lock. Theory pushed off the ropes with his feet. Lashley rolled Theory onto his shoulders. Seth frog splashed them and scored a near fall on Lashley.
Seth and Theory battled mid-ring. Seth landed a rolling elbow to the side of Theory’s head. Theory fired back and set up a Pedigree. Theory blocked it and went for his finisher. Lashley intervened and put both in a Hurt Lock at once. They backed him into the corner to break the hold. Seth superkicked Lashley and elbowed the back of Theory’s neck. Seth leaned in the corner and launched off of Theory’s back to land a Stomp on Lashley. Theory went after Seth right away. Seth superplexed Theory off the top rope and set up a Falcon Arrow. Lashley speared them. Theory draped his arm over Seth and got the three count. They cut to shocked fans. Lashley sat up in disbelief, with a trickle of blood coming from his forehead. Graves said he’s the youngest U.S. Champion in WWE history. They kept finding fans reacting with shock in the crowd, mostly men in their 20s and 30s. Cole said some will say he lucked into a championship, but he is still the champion.
WINNER: Theory in 15:00 to win the U.S. Title. (***3/4)
(Keller’s Analysis: Really good match, with smart use of the three person format to explain absences but not overdoing it to a ludicrous degree. I like Theory winning the belt the way he did. It’s the next step up the roster for him, but it came from holding his own against two more established stars and ultimately being resourceful but not cheating to win the title. During the pre-show, they really pushed the notion that Theory might be the future of WWE, so that’s how WWE wants fans looking at Theory. He continues to look like he belongs in the mix with these veterans.)
(5) THE BLOODLINE (Roman Reigns & Jey & Jimmy Uso & Solo Sikoa & Sami Zayn) vs. DREW MCINTYRE & SHEAMUS & RIDGE HOLLAND & BUTCH & KEVIN OWENS) – Men’s WarGames match
Cole noted that more than 30 years ago, Heyman led his Dangerous Alliance against Sting’s Squadron. Jey and Butch began the match. Jey trash-talked Butch from one ring before they battled. Jey got the better of Butch early. When Cole said he thinks Sami might have just been telling Reigns what he wanted to hear, Graves said he’s known Sami a long time and he doesn’t think he’s that clever. Ridge Holland joined the match third. He took it to Jey as Butch was recovering on the metal platform between the rings. Butch eventually recovered enough to join Holland in double-teaming Jey.
Sami was the next out to even the odds. Cole noted that Sami was the one who would be able to help Jey, who has always distrusted Sami. As Sami approached the ring, fans chanted “Sami Uso!” Sami and Holland battled in the corner. Jey grabbed Holland, and Sami punched him. Cole said they were working together. Sami talked to Jey about having to work together. Butch recovered and leaped onto them. Cole said you have to be on the same page if you’re going to survive WarGames. Sami saved Jey from a charging Holland, and he was sure to let Jey know what happened.
Drew McIntyre entered third for his team, giving the babyfaces the advantage. Drew tossed Sami and Jey around the ring. Drew said he was feeling pretty Uce-y. When Drew set up a superplex on Jey, Sami saved Jey. Drew gave Sami a DDT and then kipped up. Fans counted down and next out was Jimmy Uso. Reigns was sitting the back corner of the cage and Solo stood with is arms crossed, stoic as usual. Jimmy slid three tables into the ring. Jey and Sami got into an argument over how a table should be used. Jimmy got between them. Cole said Reigns looked disgusted. They fended off Butch, then went back to trying to figure out how to work through their issues. They worked together to set up a table in the corner. They showed Sheamus and Owens anxiously looking on from the cage.
Next out was Owens. He ran to the ring. Cole said it’s his second WarGames match. Graves said he had the Dusty ensemble on but was missing cowboy boots. KO bashed the Usos with a chair, then DDT’d Jimmy on one. He landed a cannonball on Jey, then landed a swanton. KO suplexed Jey through a table set up in the ring. Solo Sikoa came out next to even the active wrestlers. Drew caught a charging Solo with a flying headbutt. Everyone was down and slow to get up.
Sheamus came to the ring next. Sami blocked his entrance by holding onto the cage door. Sheamus powered his way in and began slamming Bloodline members. Sheamus leaped off the top rope with a flying clothesline to both Usos. Reigns entered last, with the rest of Bloodline down in one ring while the babyfaces were gathered in the other ring ready to fight. When Reigns entered, the ring announcer said, “Let the WarGames begin!”
Both groups of five stood in opposite rings, although Jimmy could barely stand. The babyfaces charged into the other ring at The Bloodline. Reigns took control and knocked everyone down. He set up a spear, but Sheamus stopped him with a kick. Drew joined Sheamus in going after Reigns. The Usos and Sami came to his aid. The five babyfaces bent the five heels over top ropes and bashed them over a dozen times with forearms to the chests. Cole said it’s the damnedest thing he’s ever seen. Sheamus played to the crowd, pounded his chest, and delivered a big boot to Solo. Reigns speared Sheamus, and then Butch made the save. Sami held up Butch and then Jey went for a superkick, but Butch moved and the superkicked took out Sami. Graves said it was happenstance. Cole said, “Perhaps.” Fans booed.
The Usos gave Butch the 1D for a near fall broken up by Holland (barely). The Usos stereo superkicked Holland. Reigns speared Holland through a table in the corner. Solo saved Reigns from Drew slamming him through a table. Solo gave Drew a Spinning Solo through the table. KO gave Solo a stunner and scored a near fall, interrupted by Reigns. KO and Reigns had “a moment” staring at each other from across the ring with everyone else down. They circled each other and yelled at each other. They said they weren’t done with each other and then fought. Reigns blocked a Stunner and then landed a Superman Punch. Reigns went for a spear, but Owens landed a superkick and then a Pop-up Powerbomb. He hit a Stunner next and scored a near fall, with Sami stopping the ref’s third count. They created a visual that KO would have pinned Reigns, which KO can reference in building up a match between then down the line.
Fans loudly chanted “Sami Uso!” KO and Sami stood and stared at each other. KO looked down at Reigns and asked, “That’s your family?” Jimmy went for a superkick on KO, but KO blocked it. Sami then gave KO a low blow. He looked conflicted about it afterward. Cole noted KO was best man at his wedding. Cole wondered if he was second-guessing himself. Sami stood and charged at KO with Helluva kick. KO was dead weight in Sami’s arms; Sami dropped him. Jey landed a frog splash for the three count. Reiugns hugged Sami adfterward as Solo and the Usos looked on. Sami looked down at KO, really emotional. Jey hugged Sami. Sami hugged back. Jey really leaned into the hug. Sami and Jimmy then chest bumped. Cole said The Bloodline are all on the same page, at the expense of KO. “Did Sami Zayn sell his soul tonight?” asked Cole.
WINNERS: The Bloodline in 39:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: The match was about the action, but mostly it was about the story of Sami’s loyalty and they played that aspect of the match brilliantly start to finish, not to mention stellar backstage segments earlier in the night. Every single member of Bloodline along with Owens were tremendous in telling the story throughout the match. Drew, Butch, Holland, and Sheamus contributed to the match for sure, but weren’t really integral to the Sami-Bloodline story.)