It used to be my favorite WWE event of the year – teams of five strive to survive – but now it’s just another show with a couple of elimination matches thrown in. 

Coming to you live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California – it’s WWE SURVIVOR SERIES! It’s a show that’s had its major matches switched up a lot this week, just like LAST YEAR‘s event. In true Survivor Series tradition, we have no title matches tonight, but we do have Raw Champions taking on SmackDown! Live Champions (with one notable exception) in battles for brand supremacy… because anyone actually cares about that. 

It’s gonna be a long show, so buckle up and get ready for the show that used to be a Thanksgiving night tradition! 


Tag Team Survivor Series Elimination Match: Team SmackDown Live (The New Day, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, Primo and Epico Colon, Sanity and The Usos) vs. Team Raw (The Revival, Lucha House Party, The Ascension, The B Team and Bobby Roode and Chad Gable) – I am watching the pre-show simply because I love these tag team elimination matches. With 20 guys starting off (and three guys on the outside), this is what Gorilla Monsoon used to call a “sea of humanity” surrounding the ring apron. On paper, Team SmackDown! Live has all the talent. Team Raw is mostly comprised of goobers, with the exception of The Revival and Gable and Roode. Kalisto injures himself tagging out to Dash Wilder (who eliminated the Colons), so the official lets Gran Metalik take his place from the outside. Why not just let all the third men wrestle? They’ve all got to go back to the locker room if one guy loses. Make it 11 on 12. 

Eliminations come fast and furious, and the dead weight is cleared quickly, leaving New Day (Kofi and Big E of course) left with the Revival and Gable and Roode for our final 4-on-4 showdown. Gable gets the early impressive feat, turning a roll on Big E into a German suplex to allow Roode to hit a neckbreaker. The match turns into a demolition derby as everyone tries to outdo each other with highspots until New Day gets rid of Roode and Gable. The Revival returns the favor, setting up a finale against the Usos. A full match between these two teams would be excellent. Can we get that at some point? It doesn’t last long, because these matches don’t have the kind of structure they did 30 years ago, but it was fun while it lasted. Super kicks and frog splashes take the day, as the Usos get the win. 

SmackDown! Live goes up 1-0 in the battle for brand supremacy. 

Survivor Series 2018 

Women’s 5-on-5 Elimination Match: Team SmackDown! Live (Naomi, Charlotte Flair, Mandy Rose, Carmella, Sonya Deville and Asuka) vs. Team Raw (Mickie James, Tamina, Nia Jax, Natalya, Ruby Riott, Sasha Banks and Bayley) – Lots of changes here to the announced card, kicked off by Nia Jax injuring Becky Lynch during SmackDown! Live’s invasion of Raw Monday night, causing Charlotte Flair to head to the women’s champion vs. champion match. Adding Bayley and Banks to the match improves it, though, so I’m not complaining. 

This is the reverse situation of the last match, with Raw having most of the real talent in the match, but it’s nullified by Banks and Bayley not liking any of their teammates, or team captain Alexa Bliss on the outside. The feud plays in to the finale, as Jax and Banks had a 2-on-1 advantage over Asuka, but Nia tosses Sasha into an Asuka-lock to make it a 1-on-1 fight. But Asuka can’t overcome the beating she had already taken and Jax gets the win as sole survivor. Nothing terrible, but it could have been a lot better, so maybe a little disappointing. 

Raw evens things up, 1-1, in the Battle of Brand Supremacy, even though Cole says it’s 1-0 Raw, because the pre-show doesn’t count. 

Champion vs. Champion: Raw Intercontinental Champion Seth Rollins vs. SmackDown! Live U.S. Champion Shinsuke Nakamura – These battles are really a double-edged sword. It’s great to see a first-time battle, but we’ve got to hit the pause button on the ongoing storylines, like Rollins’ new feud with Ambrose. 

I really appreciated the slow build to this match, and both guys are pretty good at creating some psychology, even if Rollins can be selective about his selling of whatever knee he feels needs to be injured at the time. Rollins and Nakamura can be an epic match somewhere down the line, when they’re in the midst of a blood feud, but this is just a random, thrown-together match, so it goes just below epic here. But it’s still entertaining. Kicks and counters rule the final part of the match, but Rollins gets the last word with a curb stomp and the win. 

Raw goes up on the night 2-1. Yes, I’m counting the pre-show match. 

Champion vs. Champion: SmackDown! Live Tag Team Champions Sheamus and Cesaro vs. Raw Tag Team Champions The Authors of Pain – The Big Show is seconding the Blue Brand champs, while the former Rockstar Spud (Drake Maverick?) is in the corner of the AoP. I’m actually intrigued by the this match, to see what The Bar can do with the Raw Champs. It’s fun watching Sheamus and Cesaro be a little stiff with the big younger team. Makes it feel that much more legit. The Bar dominates, but Drake Maverick pissing himself as Big Show chokes him was enough of a distraction for the AoP to surprise Sheamus to get the win. It’s not looking good for SmackDown! Live. 

Raw adds to its lead and takes a 3-1 advantage. 

Cruiserweight Championship Match: Buddy Murphy (c) vs. Mustafa Ali – Murphy is defending the title he won at SUPER SHOWDOWN last month. A prime example of why I can’t get into cruiser matches: Murphy tosses Ali from the top rope into the barricade on the outside… and it doesn’t end the match. That could’ve killed a dude, or at least caused some back damage, and Ali manages to continue on with the match. Yeah, it was early in the match, but still. 

These guys are flipping and flopping all over the place, and the Network skipping a bit doesn’t help with the match’s continuity. But Murphy keeps tossing Ali off of high places and to the floor, clearly in an attempt to maim him. And his acts of violence pay off with a win to retain the title. Meh. 

Men’s 5-on-5 Elimination Match: Team Raw (Bobby Lashley, Finn Balor, Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntyre and Braun Strowman) vs. Team SmackDown! Live (The Miz, Jeff Hardy, Samoa Joe, Rey Mysterio and Shane McMahon) – I can’t believe Samoa Joe got eliminated that fast. They always do this to the guys I like.  The tension between McIntyre and Strowman leads to a brawl where the SmackDown! Live guys getting the better of the Monster and Shane laying him out with a leap through an announce table. though they weren’t the legal men in the ring, so they get to take the Reigns nap slot here. Despite nearly knocking himself out, though, Shane still manages to crawl in and eliminate Ziggler. 

The pacing of this match was much better than the women’s match (and the tag team match on the pre-show), but as soon as Strowman got back into the match, the eliminations on the SmackDown! Live side started coming faster. Leaving Shane against Lashley, McIntyre and Strowman would, in a normal world, be a no-brainer, but even with Shane out on his feet, because he’s a McMahon, you never know what might happen. 

Surprisingly, McIntyre doesn’t nail Strowman with a Claymore kick to build on the battles from earlier and Braun takes Shane and drives him into the mat with a powerslam to get the win for Raw alongside McIntyre and Lashley. Acting Raw GM Baron Corbin gets a cheapshot in on Strowman before running the hell away. 

Raw takes a 4-1 advantage. I think Raw wins tonight, but we still have some matches. 

Champion vs. Champion: Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey vs. SmackDown! Live Women’s Champion Becky Lynch Charlotte Flair – Lynch got knocked out of this match after getting injured at Raw last week, so instead of waiting til WrestleMania for this match, we’re getting it at Survivor Series. And if it wasn’t for the changes to the World Title champion vs. champion match, I would’ve said this should have easily been the main event tonight. Though holding off on Rousey-Lynch will build some anticipation on that match, too. I’m honestly not sure which match I’m more excited about. 

Rousey answers my question of whether Rousey can hang with Flair right off with a series of reversals. After the fantastic match Flair had with Lynch at EVOLUTION, I’m guessing she’ll lead Rousey to her best match yet. This is the first time I’ve watched a Ronda Rousey match where she was in trouble and it made sense, because WWE has built Flair up to be the Alpha Female of the company. Regardless of how badass Becky Lynch has been lately, I don’t know that she’s at that level yet. 

The match was building really nicely when Charlotte nailed Rousey with a kendo stick for a disqualification and proceeded to beat the hell out of the “Baddest Woman on the Planet.” Flair absolutely snapped and left Rousey laying in a heap, which means we are going to get one hell of a rematch between these two. I like that idea. 

The main show sweep continues for Raw, which goes up 5-1. It’s all over but the shouting here for Brand Supremacy. 

Champion vs. Champion: SmackDown! Live WWE Champion A.J. Styles Daniel Bryan vs. Raw Universal Champion Brock Lesnar – This was supposed to be a rematch from last year’s show, but Bryan beat Styles on Tuesday to win the title. This match was something a lot of people were clamoring for before Bryan took his sabbatical to heal, but I’m pretty sure it would have ended in Bryan dying. I’m not convinced THIS match won’t end with Bryan dead. 

DEAR SWEET GOD this match is dull. Daniel Bryan may as well be a rag doll (no, not THAT ONE) with the way Lesnar is tossing him around, then stalking him, then dragging him then tossing him again. And then he hits an F5 and picks Bryan up. DAMN IT MAN, I want to go to bed. And of course, Bryan starts kicking Lesnar in the head. The ref goes down, Bryan kicks Lesnar in the Beastly scrutes and hits a running knee for a two count, but Lesnar keeps screaming while he holds his crotch. And now it’s time for Bryan to control the pace, which is decidedly faster than when Lesnar was in control. He even managed to get the YES! Lock on Lesnar. 

But before you start to believe in Bryan winning, Lesnar countered a triangle choke into an F5, and this time he wasn’t stupid enough to lift Bryan up. The Beast gets the win. 

Raw has a main show sweep. With the pre-show included, the final score is 6-1. 

What the hell was the point of that? Did WWE just bury SmackDown! Live? I’m guessing there’s a storyline reason for this, but it just seems ridiculous to have zero wins for SmackDown! Live superstars. 

As is usually the case with WWE Network specials these days, it was a good show, but nothing special. No real reason to go out of your way to watch. We’ll be back next month for WWE TLC. And since SURVIVOR SERIES started as the Thanksgiving night tradition, stay tuned on Thursday for a look at my favorite SURVIVOR SERIES matches!