A dominant overall performance by one brand, a statement victory by one world champion over the other, and a rare appearance by Vince McMahon are the highlights of this year’s Survivor Series. Usually, I’m a big no spoiler guy, but I will say that if you were watching to see if Dwayne Johnson would show up as they celebrate 25 years since his debut at Survivor Series — especially as the show promoted his movie Red Notice repeatedly through the night — don’t kid yourself. Instead, you’ll be tuning in to see wrestlers battle for brand supremacy (although many of them switched brands about a month ago).
Let’s get to the matches!
Pre-show: Shinsuke Nakamura (w/ Rick Boogs) VS. Damian Priest
In the first non-title, champion versus champion match of the night, Priest begins with some wear-down holds, while Nakamura responds with trademark high kicks and a mocking usage of Priest’s mimed bow and arrow. Priest impresses by climbing the ropes from the apron and leaping into the ring with a leg drop across the neck of the standing Nakamura, followed by another extended headlock.
Boogs inspires Nakamura back up to his feet with a blazing riff, but Priest knocks the Intercontinental champ to the mat and warns Boogs not to do it again. Nakamura does his sliding powerbomb, going under the bottom rope, but a leaping heel kick by Priest catches Nakamura in the gut as he comes down from the second rope. Nakamura wriggles out of a suplex only to take a hearty clothesline for a near fall.
Priest lines up his South of Heaven chokeslam to some boos from the near-hometown crowd, but Nakamura knees his way out and just narrowly misses a Kinshasa, settling for a driving knee to Priest’s head instead. A second attempt at the Kinshasa meets the second attempt of a South of Heaven, which is successful but again only for a two-count.
Nakamura rolls clumsily over top of Priest and cinches in an armbar, but Priest reverses it into a gogoplata instead. Nakamura seems to be passing out when Boogs riffs him back to life, to the great disgust of Priest who chases Boogs down and smashes his guitar. Nakamura comes to his partner’s rescue but takes a piece of broken guitar to the head, and the ref has no choice but to call for the bell.
Winner via disqualification: Shinsuke Nakamura
Match rating: 3/5
As Boogs and Nakamura lay in pain on the floor, Priest exists to his theme song, which always seems an odd choice for the loser of the match.
The pre-show has one more notable moment, which sees Vince McMahon arrive to the enthusiastic cheers of a small handful of somewhat less than top stars — but they were cheering as if their jobs depended on it. McMahon produces a golden egg, “Cleopatra’s Egg”, in fact, from the Dwayne Johnson movie Red Notice. I expect we’ll hear more about that later.
Once the show begins, it’s clear that Red Notice, and The Rock on the 25th anniversary of his debut, are going to play a big part tonight (sadly, we won’t be seeing Dustin Rhodes showing up tonight to take a shoulderbreaker as Goldust in honor of the moment).
Charlotte Flair VS. Becky Lynch
An over-titled Flair (as in too many reigns, far too quickly) against Lynch, who is still dealing with being epically misbooked at SummerSlam. This should have a big match feel, but instead it works perfectly as the curtain-jerker. The crowd is solidly behind Lynch, who is countering Charlotte’s muted black outfit with Wanda Maximoff gear.
It starts off quickly with lots of punches by both and a spear by Flair, but as they roll to the floor Lynch takes command by driving Charlotte into the barricade. Flair slides back in and takes charge herself, running Lynch into the ringpost from the apron. As Charlotte climbs the ropes to prepare for her no-contact moonsault to the floor, Lynch gets up and shoves her way down to the ground, crashing into the barricade once more.
The match continues in the ring as Lynch tries for the Dis-Arm-Her a couple of times, and on the second time Flair hoists her and plants for a powerbomb and a close two-count. Flair then blocks a Becksploder and instead suplexes Lynch into the corner. Flair goes for another moonsault, this time in the ring, and even though Lynch rolls away Flair goes right into a standing moonsault and lands it.
Lynch gets back into the thick of things with a flurry of punches, draping Flair across the second rope and landing a leg drop across the back of her neck. I’m still waiting for Lynch to utilize the pointy top of her boots, but for now Flair gets back on top with an Andrade-style back elbow. An inverted DDT by Lynch, though, turns the tables again as the match has gone back and forth regularly. Pat McAfee, always reliable for energetic commentary, calls this an “instant classic”, and one that will be talked about twenty years from now. Huh.
Lynch does get a Manhandle Slam in, but Flair reaches the ropes with her foot, thereby proving how much better she is than Bianca Belair, I guess? Hardly hesitating, Lynch applies a figure-four leglock, but Flair is able to reverse it and break the hold. A big boot from Flair sends Lynch to the floor so she can try her harmless moonsault again, and she doesn’t disappoint as she misses Lynch completely, forcing Becky to flail to the ground as Michael Cole points out the obvious that Flair “didn’t get all of it”.
Flair tries a Dis-Arm-Her, and even though it doesn’t get the three-count, it means that they’ve traded attempts at each other’s moves and we must be close to the end. Indeed, Flair tries a rope-assisted pin which the ref breaks up, but Lynch reverses it into her own pin while holding the ropes to get the victory.
Winner via sneaky pinfall: Becky Lynch
Match rating: 2.5/5
Team Raw (Bobby Lashley, Austin Theory, Finn Balor, Kevin Owens, and Seth Rollins) VS. Team SmackDown (King Woods, Jeff Hardy, Sheamus, Happy Corbin, and Drew McIntyre, w/ Madcap Moss) – 5 on 5 Survivor Series Match
Debates rage on both teams as to who should start, but it’s hottest between Owens and Rollins. KO wins the argument and steps in against King Woods, but Owens immediately rolls out and walks up the aisle to get himself counted out. Woods forces Theory into the match by flipping him over the rope, and Team SD takes turns throwing him around and beating him down at will. Austin manages to tag Rollins who soon finds himself in the same position, as the blue squad uses quick tags to work him over too.
Rollins drags Sheamus back to his corner and tags in Balor who enters with an axe handle from the top rope, but Sheamus brings him down with a forearm and the routine starts again. McIntyre suplexes Balor before Corbin tags in to punch Balor down in the corner. Soon after, Lashley has to save Balor after he takes a Deep Six. Balor kicks Corbin to the mat and lands a Coup de Grace to even the odds.
Hardy steps in and immediately rolls out a greatest hits package with a double leg drop and basement dropkick, but Balor responds with a low dropkick of his own. A tag to Rollins sees Finn and Seth set up a double back suplex, but Hardy kicks them off and dives into them both. On the outside, Lashley goes after McIntyre, running him into the ringpost.
Theory gets back in, as does Woods, who does a nice curtsy before setting up his Coast to Coast elbow drop before Lashley knocks him down, tags himself in, and spears Woods before cinching in the Hurt Lock to eliminate the King. Right away, both teams get in the ring and start a big rumble, but the ring clears leaving McIntyre and Lashley to renew their hostilities.
A huge leap by Lashley which gets him over top of the running Scot is impressive. Both fight their way to the floor and fight themselves to a double-count out elimination. As Lashley argues with the ref in the ring, McIntyre hits a Claymore on his rival as a parting shot. Back to the events that count, Sheamus powerslams Balor for a two-count, but after dodging a Coup de Grace, Sheamus uses a Brogue Kick to eliminate Finn.
It’s a two-on-two match now, as Hardy tags in to deliver a rather plain-looking splash on Rollins from the second-rope for a two-count. Sheamus steps in and thinks about a Brogue Kick but takes a superkick instead. In comes Theory and, while Rollins knocks Hardy down to remove the possibility of a tag, he rolls Sheamus up with a handful of tights for the pinfall.
Before leaving, Sheamus clotheslines Hardy to the mat, leaving him easy pickings for a frog splash. Rollins and Theory then think about a double-superplex, but again Hardy fights out and drops a Swanton on Theory for an eliminaton, so it’s down to Rollins and Hardy.
Both are drained as it takes great effort to mount any offense. Hardy blocks a Stomp, brings Rollins down with a Twist of Fate, but Rollins gets his knees up to counter the Swanton, then makes his last go at the Stomp count, eliminating Hardy for the win.
Winners via elimination: Team Raw (Sole Survivor: Seth Rollins)
Match rating: 3/5
Backstage, Roman Reigns arrives at Mr. McMahon’s makeshift office. Vince shows off his egg, then hypes up The Rock’s celebration. Reigns is unimpressed.
25-Man Battle Royale
Sami Zayn gets a featured entrance, as do Omos and AJ Styles, then Ricochet, and finally Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford (with a Pizza Hut box, thanks to their sponsorship).
First out of the match is Drew Gulak, and Styles gets on top of the announcer’s table and just cheers on Omos. R-Truth grabs a piece of pizza and tries to bribe Otis with it. It almost works, but both Truth and Otis are soon gone at the hands of Omos. As Gulak, T-Bar, and Cedric Alexander exit, the crowd chants “we want pizza” – always a sign of investment in the match.
Shanky and Omos square off, with Omos making quick work of Jinder Mahal’s buddy. Mansoor tries to eliminate both Ziggler and Roode at the same time, but they flip him out instead. Omos continues his tear, shoving Roode over the top rope just before Styles finally enters the ring with a flying forearm on Ziggler before tossing him. Zayn tries to recruit Cesaro and Ricochet to his cause as the final three SmackDown participants, but they say “no thank you” before the Street Profits eliminate Zayn.
Omos is back at it, sending Commander Azeez packing, then Apollo Crews (with Styles going out in between as Azeez dragged him out, even though Omos tried to keep his partner in). Cesaro, Ricochet, Montez Ford, and Angelo Dawkins gang up on Omos, but Cesaro is tossed, then Dawkins, then Ford, and finally the inevitable: Ricochet is eliminated capping off a dominant performance by Omos.
Winner elimination: Omos
Match rating: 1.5/5
Styles re-enters and looks genuinely happy for his big buddy. He then heads to grab some pizza for them, but Montez Ford swipes the box away from him, and Omos is really mad. So, the win wasn’t enough? It was all about the pizza? The Profits toss slices into the crowd — I really hope people aren’t eating those.
The Usos (Jey & Jimmy) VS. RK-Bro (Riddle & Randy Orton)
Jimmy starts off with Riddle, lifting him into a gut-wrench position and spinning him around before tagging in Orton who very nearly hits an early RKO. Jey tags in and seems pretty excited to have some crowd support, perhaps using it to fuel some double-teaming on Riddle as he re-enters, including a suicide dive by Jimmy to Riddle on the floor. The Usos keep on pandering, pausing long enough to punch Riddle down in the corner, pandering again, then running in and ramming his rear end into Riddle’s face.
Riddle counters a second attempt at the move with a kick, but can’t follow with a tag to Orton. Riddle doesn’t hit a GTS on Jimmy (who nonetheless plays it like it hit him dead-on, while McAfee calls it something like a “go to night-night”). Orton comes in hot, powerslamming Jey before dropping both Usos onto the announcer’s table. In the ring, Jey finds himself strung up on the second rope for a DDT, but as Orton looks for an RKO again, Jey hits a couple of superkicks to slow him down.
Riddle tags in and drops each Uso in succession with a back suplex and one standing senton, but Jey blocks the second attempt with his knees. Jimmy and Jey double-superkick Orton as he looks to interfere, then they give one to Riddle for a two-count. Jimmy misses a blind tag to Orton and climbs the ropes to hit a splash, but Orton meets him on the way down with an RKO for the win.
Winners via RKO Outta Nowhere: RK-Bro
Match rating: 3/5
Here we are again in McMahon’s office, but as he looks to show off his egg to Sonya Deville and Adam Pearce, he discovers it’s missing. McMahon, while holding his phone, orders Deville to go and call the police. He then orders Pearce to go shake down the roster and find out who stole it. Just so you know, there’s no conclusion to this story tonight, so you’ll have to tune in to Raw for the thrilling ending!
A comic book-themed promo for Xia Li that played on SmackDown is replayed, and I’ll state again that, according to recent history, that’s probably bad luck for Li and she may find herself released sooner than later.
Team Raw (Bianca Belair, Carmella, Queen Zelina, Liv Morgan, and Rhea Ripley) VS. Team SmackDown (Natalya, Shayna Baszler, Toni Storm, Shotzi, and Sasha Banks) 5 on 5 Survivor Series Match
Storm and Carmella open the match, and after Carmella lands one punch she tags out to Vega so she can go have her mask fitted. Carmella tags in again, but Vega grabs her mask and allows Storm to roll up Carmella for the elimination.
Tags see Belair and Shotzi match up, with Bianca outmuscling her and hitting a standing splash before bringing in Morgan who is soon caught in the wrong corner before facing off one on one with Natalya. Morgan misses a charge in the corner then takes a basement dropkick, but responds with one of her own. She tags in Ripley who drops Natalya with a headbutt.
Baszler gets in and drops Ripley hard with an ugly gut-wrench slam, but misses a charge into the corner. She tries to tag in Banks, but Shotzi drags Sasha off the apron and Baszler stays in. Ripley escapes a Kirifuda clutch, but as she’s about to land a Riptide they do the thing where every woman runs in and performs a signature move, one at a time like a ninja movie.
The crowd is doing the wave as Belair and Banks end up in the ring together, which gets the fans’ attention again. After a little pandering and taunting, Banks applies a Bank Statement but Belair powers out, so Banks brings her down with a tornado DDT. Belair tries a KOD but Banks lands on her feet, so Belair tags in Vega and throws her right into Banks.
Sasha makes it to her corner but nobody wants to tag her, and a very loud and brief “CM Punk” chant of all things emerges. Storm makes a tag and follows a Backstabber with a Storm Zero to get the pin on Vega. An awkward sequence sees Morgan tag in, hit a Jersey Codebreaker and ObLIVion on Storm to eliminate her from the match, all while Baszler tried to interfere.
Baszler, now legally in, drops Morgan, and Shotzi lands a top rope splash, as does Sasha Banks to eliminate Morgan. Ripley gets in against Banks, hitting a headbutt and missile dropkick, but Banks responds by tagging in Shotzi, then Baszler, so the latter pair can do a sort of Sliced Bread #2 on Ripley to gain the pinfall, leaving Belair in a 1-on-4 situation.
Bianca gets in the ring against Natalya, but Banks and Shotzi both try and tag themselves in, leaving to in-fighting between the two of them as they fight outside of the ring. Banks, who’s actually legal, tries to get in to beat the ten-count, but both Shotzi and Baszler (why her?) grab her feet to keep her from entering. She was more than halfway in the ring, though, so I’m surprised that didn’t break the count. Anyway, Banks is eliminated, and the restless crowd boos.
Belair takes a discus clothesline from Natalya, finding herself in the Sharpshooter moments later. Belair crawls to the ropes and launches Natalya into Baszler on the apron, then rolls her up for the win. Moments later, Belair eliminates Baszler with a lazy looking Glam Slam, bringing in Shotzi for the culmination of the match. Shotzi tries a tornado DDT, but Belair reverses it and picks her up for a KOD and the win.
Winner via elimination: Team Raw (Sole Survivor: Bianca Belair)
Match rating: 1.5/5
Friday night’s odd couple, Paul Heyman and Kayla Braxton, talk a bit about McMahon’s missing egg, but Braxton really wants to hear more about Brock Lesnar’s suspension apparently no longer being indefinite. Heyman has nothing to say about that.
Big E Langston VS. Roman Reigns (w/ Paul Heyman)
These two are going to have to work pretty hard to win over a tired-sounding crowd. They begin by trading stiff punches, and Langston claims the first early advantage, laying Reigns out on the apron and going for his splash. Reigns rolls out of the way and Langston sells hurting his left knee upon landing. Reigns responds with a drive-by and drags Big E into the ring, punching him down to the mat in the corner.
Roman follows with a chinlock, knocking Langston down when Big E escapes and runs the ropes to gain momentum. A big boot follows, dropping Langston again. Reigns tells Brooklyn to “shut your mouth”, even though they’re not making much noise at all. They go to the floor where Langston reverses a whip and runs Reigns into the steps. Back in the ring, a duo of belly-to-belly suplexes, a slam, and a splash gets Langston pumped up.
Just to keep you up to date, the crowd is basically asleep as Langston gets a two-count thanks to a uranage. He hoists Reigns up in a Stretch Muffler submission, but Reigns turns it into a powerbomb for another near fall. Reigns misses a Superman Punch, but instead hits a Rock Bottom, but still only for a two-count. As Langston staggers to his feet, Reigns hits him with a Superman Punch, then another, and a third, but as Reigns sets up for a spear, Langston is standing in front of him.
He sends Reigns onto the apron and spears him through the ropes. Upon re-entering the ring, Reigns delivers his own spear, but Langston kicks out again. Langston misses his second apron DDT, caught instead in a standing Guillotine. Reigns releases it before the count of five, but locks it in again in the middle of the ring. Langston, though, stand up and drops Reigns with a Big Ending, but Roman is close enough to reach the ropes and break the referee’s count.
The brawl goes to the floor where Langston takes another Superman Punch. Back between the ropes, Langston gets Reigns up for another attempted Big Ending, but Reigns slips out, kicks Langston in the back of the left leg (where Cole references the “hurt knee” from earlier, the one that hasn’t been mentioned or indicated at all in about twenty minutes), and a spear follows to give the win to Reigns.
Winner via pinfall: Roman Reigns
Match rating: 2.5/5
Survivor Series 2021
There were some fine matches, but that’s the minimum expectation because everyone on this show should be able to provide decent wrestling. In the end, you just can’t switch up the brand rosters a month or so before an event like this and expect there to be any feeling of fighting for pride. The women’s Survivor Series match was clumsy, and the decisive win by Reigns can only hurt Langston in the long run. Nothing surprising, and nothing to be looked back on and talked about.