When a wrestling promotion spends the better part of two years building someone up as an unstoppable force of nature, the last thing anyone would expect would be for that same man to be squashed like a jobber on an old Saturday afternoon wrestling show.
If the grappler in question is Brock Lesnar, who’s earned part of his mystique from his success fighting in the non-scripted world of the UFC, it’s almost unthinkable.
Add in the fact that his opponent on Sunday night at Survivor Series 2016 was Bill Goldberg and that the WWE had invested a lot of effort in billing their years-in-the-making rematch as the main event of the card from the Air Canada Centre and you’d think that at the very least, Lesnar would get plenty of opportunity to take the man who defeated him 12 years prior to Suplex City.
That’s not exactly how it went down.
Plenty of “Goldberg” chants rang out before the man himself even made his famous ring walk. Once the bell rang, Lesnar forced Goldberg right back into the corner, but he soon wore an incredulous look as he was pushed back and speared. A second spear followed, and the unusual site of Lesnar in trouble followed.
Goldberg delivered the Jackhammer, and just like that, it was over. A celebration followed with Goldberg and his son together in the ring. The show was over, well short of the usual 11 p.m. Eastern finish of most pay-per-views — though Survivor Series had also started an hour earlier than normal — and in the most stunning fashion possible.
Was it because Goldberg had reportedly been experiencing shoulder and knee trouble and couldn’t work a full match? Or, as some fans were quick to express on social media, was this something of a comeuppance for Lesnar for his failed drug tests during his brief UFC return to the UFC earlier this year?
It was tough to figure in the immediate aftermath. At the very least, it should make some lapsed Raw viewers curious to tune into the show on Monday, which hasn’t been the case too often since the most recent brand extension.
Fans hungering for actual wrestling got plenty of it in the co-feature, which pitted five members of the Raw and Smackdown rosters against each other for what was at least short term brand supremacy. The two captains and champions, Kevin Owens and AJ Styles, started the match facing each other. The fans were extremely loud as Styles rolled away from a senton, and both men showed their ability to avoid each other’s signature moves.
A “stupid idiot” chant rang out, and the fans erupted when Jericho was tagged in. Styles caught him with a dropkick, and Jericho made a hard tag to Rollins after Seth appeared to mock him a bit. The world champ quickly tagged in Ambrose to face off against his former teammate.
After the Shield guys wrestled to a stalemate, Rollins sent Jericho back in to eat boots to the midsection from Ambrose. An enzuigiri from Y2J led to a pinfall attempt, but Dean kicked out at one. In the corner, Ambrose rained down right hands before giving way to Shane-o-Mac. His offense kept Jericho off-balance until he could steady himself.
With Ambrose and Owens back in, both men looked for their finishers, and Jericho bailed out his BFF as all 10 men entered the ring for a staredown. The ensuing chaos ended with Strowman cornering McMahon, but his Smackdown teammates came to the rescue, and Shane took Braun over the top rope to the floor. With most of the other combatants on the outside, Styles and Ambrose began to bicker, and Shane had to try to play peacemaker. It didn’t really work. Strowman took advantage with a running powerslam that eliminates Ambrose as Styles simply looked on.
Finally, a fly in the ointment for Raw as Wyatt tried controlling his former big man, but Strowman laid into him in short order. It finally took Wyatt and Orton working together to slow Braun down, and they laid Strowman over the German announce table so that Shane could drive him through it with an elbow from the top turnbuckle.
Styles rolled McMahon back into the ring, but Strowman wasn’t able to get back in and beat the 10-count because James Ellsworth grabbed his foot while laying under the ring. Naturally, that led to Strowman taking out some anger on the Smackdown mascot by hurling him off the stage.
With order somewhat restored to the match, McMahon had to scramble to survive against Owens and Jericho. Y2J hit Codebreakers on both McMahon and Orton but his attempt to pin Shane did not succeed. Rollins took a turn beating on the Smackdown commissioner too, but McMahon tagged Styles back in to get a two count with a backbreaker. An exchange of holds led to the Calf Crusher, but Owens intervened by using The List to beat up AJ and deliver a Pop-Up Powerbomb. The ref sent KO to the showers for that, putting Smackdown up by one.
As Jericho scrambled to get the pages of The List together, Orton snuck up for an RKO. The three count followed, leaving just Reigns and Rollins left on Team Raw.
Orton’s powerslam got him a quick two count on Rollins, followed by another near fall by Wyatt. An Orton superplex left Rollins even more beaten up, but a tag to Reigns got Raw back into it despite the boos that rained down from the Toronto fans. Reign’s Niagara driver was on the mark, but Styles was able to kick out.
Then it was time for McMahon to take over, beating down both Rollins and Reigns. The latter ended up in the corner, but when he attempted to go for the Coast to Coast, Reigns caught him in mid-air with a spear that was good for a three count.
The next duo up for an extended face-off was Styles and Rollins, but after a superplex rolled through into a Michonoku driver, Orton came to AJ’s rescue. The action moved to the outside for the Spanish announce table to get involved, but any plans Team Raw had were foiled by Styles. Ambrose chose that moment to return to the fray, assaulting Styles from behind. A Shield reunion was in the cards, as Rollins and Reigns saved Ambrose from refs and security guards, and a triple power bomb sent Styles through the table, more than enough to allow Rollins to pin him.
Another unexpected appearance took place as Luke Harper arrived to help the other members of the Wyatt Family. Rollins went up top for a frog splash, but Orton caught him with an RKO that left only Reigns remaining for Raw.
Would this be a defying the odds story for the man the fans seemed to hate the most? Nope, as Orton took a spear intended for Wyatt, allowing Bray to hit the Sister Abigail and get the victory for Smackdown.
The next WWE pay-per-view is the Smackdown-only, TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs on December 4th.
Keeping up with a card like this one is a two-man job. Luckily we have just the tag team to do it. In keeping with tradition, Dale’s comments will be in italics with Nick’s in plain type.
Bayley, Alicia Fox, Nia Jax, Sasha Banks and Charlotte w/Dana Brooke vs. Becky Lynch, Naomi, Alexa Bliss, Carmella and Nikki Bella w/Natalya – Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Match
Nikki’s music hits and she is nowhere to be seen. A cameraman finds Nikki in the back, reeling from an undisclosed attack. Natalya volunteers to step in, even though she is supposed to be the coach.
Early on, the RAW women keep making blind tags and start arguing among themselves. Becky Lynch has heard enough and hits the RAW champ with a European uppercut. All ten women hit the ring and brawl until Nia Jax single-handedly knocks down the Smackdown team.
Carmella and Natlya try to double team Jax and eat a double clothesline for their trouble. Alicia tags in but gets knocked into the corner. She dodges a bronco buster. She slams Carmella into the turnbuckle and follows with a scissors kick, then covers to get the pin.
Eliminated by Alicia Fox via pinfall: Carmella
Alexa Bliss jumps in to avenge her teammate and tosses Fox into the ring post. She goes up top and hits Twisted Bliss to get the pin.
Eliminated by Alexa Bliss via pinfall: Alicia Fox
Naomi and Nia Jax tag in. Jax is knocked to the floor, and and Naomi hits a moonsault from the top turnbuckle. Nia stops her from getting back into the ring and slams her into ringpost. Jax gets in the ring, while Naomi gets counted out.
Eliminated by Nia Jax via count out: Naomi
Sasha Banks is stomped into the corner by Natalya, but then fights off a double team from Nattie and Bliss. She is able to set them both up into he corner for the double knees. She rolls Nattie back into the ring but has the Bank Statement blocked by Alexa. Nattie is able to roll her up and get the pin.
Eliminated by Natalya via pinfall: Sasha Banks
Natalya hits Charlotte with a sit down powerbomb and moves into a Sharpshooter. Charlotte gets to the ropes, with help from Dana, to break the hold. Charlotte nails Nattie with a big boot and covers to get the pin.
Eliminated by Charlotte via pinfall: Natalya
Natalya powerbombs Charlotte.
Becky and Alexa try to double team Nia with dropkicks. Nia goes down, and Becky locks in the Dis-arm-her. Nia taps, but then yanks Lynch out of the ring and slams her into the security barrier.
Eliminated by Becky Lynch via submission: Nia Jax
Charlotte takes advantage, stomping Becky into the corner. The RAW champ takes a running clothesline in the corner. Becky sets her up and hits a flying leg drop. Becky goes for the cover, but it is broken up by Bayley. Charlotte tags out. Bayley is able to hit the Bayley to Belly and covers to get the pin.
Eliminated by Bayley via pinfall: Becky Lynch
Winner: Team RAW
Survivors: Bayley and Charlotte
Match Rating: 7/10
The ref raises Bayley’s and Charlotte’s hands, but any solidarity ends quickly when Charlotte attacks Bayley. She tosses Bayley out of the ring and slams her into the security barrier. The women’s champ then nails her with a big boot before heading to the back.
Gallows and Anderson confront James Ellsworth backstage, making a ton of chin jokes in the process. Mick Foley arrives and tells his tag team to hit the bricks, and Ellsworth gets to have a fanboy moment over Mick’s career. Might Ellsworth be convinced to come to Raw? He says he’s true team blue, and they agree to disagree over what might happen between the brands later tonight. Ellsworth turns and runs into Braun Strowman before immediately turning and making a break for it.
The Miz (champion) w/ Maryse vs. Sami Zayn (challenger) – Intercontinental Title Match
Raw is so far up 1-0 for the night on Smackdown, and if you consider the fact that Zayn is Canadian, you have to like his chances to make it two straight. Sami looks for an early dive to the floor but puts on the brakes as he sees Miz regrouping with Maryse. He does hit a moonsault off the barricade, but Miz uses a brief distraction from his wife to gain the upper hand. After banging Zayn’s left leg off the ring post, the champ boots Zayn in the back of the neck for a near fall. Strikes are exchanged before Sami connects on a big clothesline, and this time he does pull off his somersault plancha. A Blue Thunder Bomb also finds the mark, but Miz is able to kick out at two. Sami is thinking Helluva Kick, but the damage to his leg from earlier prevents it, and Miz gets his own near fall. There’s an exploder suplex from Sami, but the champ evades the Helluva Kick. Miz applies the Figure Four, and even though the challenger escapes it, he ends up eating a series of kicks to the chest. Zayn digs down deep to apply a Figure Four of his own, and Miz is in trouble when the bell rings. It’s Maryse ringing the bell, and after a moment of confusion, the ref tells the men the match is still on, and Miz rolls up Zayn to retain his belt. One for Smackdown after all, one guesses.
Winner via pinfall … and still Intercontinental Champion: The Miz
Match Rating: 6.5/10
Backstage, AJ Styles and Dean Ambrose exchange quips about their upcoming bout at TLC. Shane McMahon arrives to tell his wrestlers that they can’t afford to lose another one to Raw, and both men say they will focus. Probably.
Sheamus and Cesaro are survivors.
Enzo Amore and Big Cass, The Shining Stars, Anderson and Gallows, Sheamus and Cesaro and The New Day vs. Rhyno and Heath Slater, Breezango, The Usos, The Hype Bros and American Alpha
Fandango starts handing out citations for fashion violations. Kofi puts an end to that with an elbow off the top rope and pins Fandango.
Eliminated by Kofi Kingston via pinfall: Breezango
Jimmy Uso answers with a superkick and pins Kofi.
Eliminated by Jimmy Uso via pinfall: The New Day
Mojo Rawley gets stuck in the red corner, but is able to escape and get a tag to his partner. Zack Ryder hits a missile dropkick on Anderson. Gallows intervenes, though, and they hit the Magic Killer on Ryder.
Eliminated by Luke Gallows via pinfall: The Hype Bros
Chad Gable kicks out of a pin after a slingshot elbow from Epico. He follows with the three wicked suplexes but still can’t get the pin. Gale fights off a double team and sets Primo up in an electric chair. Jason Jordan hits the clothesline and gets the pin.
Eliminated by Jason Jordan via pinfall: The Shining Stars
The remaining tag teams hit the ring, and the ref loses control. Almost everyone hits the floor, and Enzo is sent flying over the ropes to take them out. Inside the ring, America Alpha takes out Sheamus and Cesaro, with Gable then flying over the top rope, taking out everyone. Anderson and Gallows, who were the legal team, hit Jordan with the Magic Killer and get the pin.
Eliminated by Luke Gallows via pinfall: American Alpha
Sheamus taunts his own partner and then Gallows accidently knocks Enzo off the apron. Team RAW starts to argue, allowing Rhyno to tag in and gore Gallows and get the pin.
Eliminated by Rhyno via pinfall: Anderson and Gallows
Enzo and Cass hit the rocket launcher on Rhyno and are able to eliminate the Smackdown champs.
Eliminated by Enzo Amore via pinfall: Rhyno and Heath Slater
Jey hits Enzo with a superkick, and Jimmy finishes him off with a splash off the top rope. He covers and gets the pin.
Eliminated by Jimmy Uso via pinfall: Enzo and Cass
After a long flight in the Cesaro spin, Jimmy saves his brother and takes out Sheamus with a suicide dive. Jey locks in a Boston crab, but Cesaro counters into a Sharpshooter. Sheamus takes out Jimmy with a Brogue kick, and Jey taps.
Eliminated by Cesaro via submission: The Usos
Winner: Team RAW
Survivors: Cesaro and Sheamus
Match Rating: 8/10
Stephanie McMahon and Mick are pleased with how Raw is doing so far. The two leaders think Cesaro and Sheamus deserve a title shot tomorrow, and they agree that they’re looking good right now.
Brian Kendrick enjoys a quiet moment during his bout with Kalisto.
Brian Kendrick (champion) vs. Kalisto (challenger) – Cruiserweight Title Match
Kalisto hits a springboard elbow, but Kendrick answers with a belly to back suplex. Kendrick avoids the Salida del Sol but can’t get the pin. Kalisto hits a Tilt-a-Whirl headscissors and follows with a dropkick into the corner. Kendrick drops Kalisto on his head and then kicks the ring steps into his head. Back in the ring, Kendrick hits a suplex but still can’t get the pin. Kendrick locks in a vice grip on Kalisto’s neck and is able to break the hold. Kendrick and Kalisto fight on the apron with Kendrick getting smashed into the ring post. Kalisto then hits a Spanish Fly from the apron to the floor, and both men are down. Kalisto rolls Kendrick back into the ring but can’t get the pin. Kendrick rolls to the floor, but Kalisto follows him with a dive through the ropes. Kendrick crotches Kalisto on the top rope, but Kalisto is able to fight back. Kendrick hooks him by the nose and then flips him off the top rope into the Captain’s Hook. Kalisto is able to get to the ropes. Kendrick runs into a boot. Kalisto hits a cartwheel driver and follows with the Salida del Sol. Kendrick kicks out. Kalisto goes back up to the top when Baron Corbin runs down and attacks Kendrick from behind. He catches Kalisto coming off the top rope and hits him with the End of Days. The ref calls for the bell.
Winner by disqualification … and still Cruiserweight Champion … Brian Kendrick
Match Rating: 5/10 (because of the ending)
Backstage, Daniel Bryan chews out Corbin for costing Smackdown the cruiserweight division. Corbin doesn’t care, because he considers them pests. Bryan tells him he will deal with this on Tuesday.
Love that dude, Corbin. No, wait. The opposite of that.
Shane McMahon takes the fight to Chris Jericho.
Bray Wyatt, Randy Orton, Shane McMahon, Dean Ambrose and AJ Styles w/James Ellsworth vs. Braun Strowman, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens – Traditional Survivor Series Match
Eliminated by Braun Strowman via pinfall: Dean Ambrose
Eliminated via count out: Braun Strowman
Eliminated by disqualification: Kevin Owens
Eliminated by Randy Orton via pinfall: Chris Jericho
Eliminated by Roman Reigns via pinfall: Shane McMahon
Eliminated by Seth Rollins via pinfall: AJ Styles
Eliminated by Bray Wyatt via pinfall: Seth Rollins
Eliminated by Bray Wyatt via pinfall: Roman Reigns
Winner: Team Smackdown
Survivors: Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton
Match Rating: 9/10
With plenty of time still left to fill, we get the longest video promo yet for Goldberg-Lesnar. You know, just in case you weren’t sure what was coming up next.
Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar
Winner via pinfall: Goldberg
Match Rating: NA
Total Event Time: 3 hours and 30 minutes
Event Rating: 8/10
- Nick and Dale are a little miffed that they weren’t informed in advance that the Goldberg who was scheduled to appear at Survivor Series was the invincible, early-in-his-WCW-run edition. That would have changed their prediction for the main event quite a bit. Please help keep them in the loop by reaching out on Twitter to Nick at @nick_tylwalk and to Dale at @dplummer627.