Survivor Series has evolved quite a bit since its original 5-on-5 or 10-on-10 elimination style tag team matches. From there, to adding in singles matches (you may have heard of something called the Montreal Screwjob?), to the Brand vs. Brand shows. On Saturday night, the newest incarnation of the event took place, as WWE presented Survivor Series: WarGames, featuring two of the titular matches that bookended the show.
The first such match saw the return of “The Man” Becky Lynch and she proved she hadn’t lost a step despite being away from the ring for several months. But she wasn’t the only person with something to prove. Indeed, Sami Zayn had to prove to Jey Uso, and really to the entire Bloodline, that he was loyal to their cause, and that he wouldn’t heed the advice of his life-long friend Kevin Owens to turn on them. And, in the main event, boy did he prove it, in no uncertain terms.
Survivor Series: WarGames – Pre-Show
There isn’t much to say about the pre-show. Jerry “the King” Lawler had one good line: talking about Paul Heyman, Lawler said, “Heyman hates to lose…. he won’t even lose weight.”
At the end, Booker T and the one annoying guy bet $50 on which team would win the men’s WarGames match. Seems like a waste of an opportunity to plug their partnership with Draft Kings.
Survivor Series: WarGames – Main Show
A kick-ass opening video featured WWE Hall of Famer Ozzy Osbourne singing (lip-syncing) to his band Black Sabbath’s song War Pigs, mixed in with audio and visual clips of the WWE roster. This was pretty cool.
Commentators Michael Cole and Corey Graves ran down some history of the WarGames match, noting that there have been some changes since its debut in 1987, but the general principles are the same.
The holding cages were positioned at the top of the entrance ramp, so that’s where the competitors will have to wait until they are allowed to officially enter the fray.
Match 1: Becky Lynch, Alexa Bliss, Asuka, “Michin” Mia Yim, and Bianca Belair vs. Damage CTRL (Bayley, Dakota Kai, and Iyo Sky), Rhea Ripley, and Nikki Cross – WarGames match
Kai and Bianca started off, and it was noted they have the most experience in the structure for their respective teams – this is actually Dakota’s 4th such match, as it was heretofore only used in NXT. Bianca dominated for most of the first five minutes, battering Kai using every part of the battlefield.
Sky was next to enter, and soon Bianca found herself getting double-teamed by the Tag Team Champions. At one point, Sky botched a move off the ropes, but she more than redeemed herself with a springboard that saw her step from the top rope of one ring to the other before hitting a Missile Dropkick – that was a beauty.
Asuka came in to even things up, and she and Sky had a nice exchange, before Asuka and Bianca downed the champs.
Nikki Cross was up next, but she spent her first minute getting numerous garbage can lids and Singapore canes a from under the ring and throwing them into the cage. She used them to good effect, and by the time the three minute advantage was up, Team Bianca were all hurting.
Alexa Bliss helped turn the tide, as she was able to turn some of the weapons to her advantage. And that led to a sequence where Team Bianca beat down the heels with canes while Nikki sat on the top of the cage, watching the carnage and laughing maniacally. She then flew from the top of the cage, hitting a High Cross Body on everyone, wiping out both sides.
Bayley also stopped for some weapons before entering the cage – in this case, spending nearly half of her three minutes to procure a pair of giant ladders and, to the crowd’s delight, a table. After she finally entered the cage, she used the ladder to trap Bianca in the corner, and then she and her partners battered Bianca’s partners, while Bianca could only look on helplessly.
Mia Yim continued the trend, bringing in the garbage cans which she used to good effect, whipping one right into Kai who was trying to hit her with a Flying Press off the top rope. There was some fighting in pairs, leading to a series of Superplexes by Bianca’s team.
Rhea didn’t stop to bring in any weapons, preferring to simply hurt people using her own strength, skills, and vicious mentality. Bianca’s team started fighting back, just in time for the match to officially begin, with the entrance of Becky Lynch.
Fresh, Becky came in as a one-woman army, beating up Kai and Sky, including stuffing Sky’s head and upper torso in a garbage can and then hitting a Stomp off the ropes and onto the can. Becky then beat up Bayley, until she ran into a defiant Rhea Ripley. Ripley hit Becky with a Riptide, and Becky would have been pinned if not for a save by one of her partners.
— WWE (@WWE) November 27, 2022
Asuka found an answer to Rhea in the form of the evil mist, which blinded Rhea and then a DDT by Becky took her out of the equation for a bit. Bayley then turned her attention to Becky and nearly got the win off of The Man.
They set up for a huge Tower of Doom spot, but Nikki broke it up with a Singapore cane shot to Bianca’s gut, and after that most of them made their way back to the mat. Except Bayley who was Powerbombed right on her head and neck by Bianca – that looked way ugly and dangerous, it’s lucky Bayley didn’t get seriously injured. That was followed by Sky hitting a Moonsault off the top of the cage, wiping out Bicana and Mia Sky – that was pretty sweet.
Nikki found a pair of handcuffs and went after her former partner Alexa Bliss, and tried to cuff her to the cage, but Alexa thwarted the attempt, handcuffed herself to Nikki, and then dropped Nikki with an Electric Chair onto a garbage can.
Ripley finally got her sight back, and she went after everyone, with Mia taking the worst of it, getting driven through a ladder that had been propped up in the corner.
After that, Damage CTRL squared off with Bianca and Becky in the middle of the ring, but despite the numbers disadvantage, Becky and Bianca took the advantage in the ensuing fisticuffs. They stacked Sky and Kai onto a table and Becky scaled the cage. Bianca took out Bayley with a KOD into the cage, and then Becky jumped off the cage and put Sky and Kai through the table with a Super Legdrop. She had her choice as to who to pin, and Kai won the honours.
After the match, Bianca and Becky raised each other’s arm before they were joined by the rest of their team in the celebration.
This was fun. There were a few botches here and there, and a couple of times it seemed draggy when the person coming in paused to grab numerous weapons. But there were enough big spots to make up for any slowing down of the action. The final move by Becky looked amazing, and that’s the thing that people will remember, and rightfully so. Becky didn’t look as if she’d lost a step during her absence, and it would seem she’ll definitely be showcased as the top female again, even if she’s not currently the champ.
Winners: Becky Lynch, Alexa Bliss, Mia Yim, Asuka, and Bianca Belair
A Brock Lesnar video aired, showcasing all of his collegiate, WWE, and MMA accolades.
They showed clips from last night’s Smackdown showing the interactions between Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, and Jey Uso that ultimately led to Jey losing the match that determined which team would have the advantage in the WarGames match.
Cut to the Bloodline dressing room where Jey sheepishly approached a displeased Roman Reigns. Jey tried to put the blame for the loss on Sami, telling Roman that he would have taken Sami out last night, but Roman hadn’t given that order. Roman said that Jey had better follow Roman’s directions tonight during the match. Roman said he would talk directly to Sami about the matter, and instructed Paul Heyman to summon Sami.
Match 2: Finn Balor (w/ Dominik Mysterio and Damian Priest) vs. AJ Styles (w/ Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows)
During the introductions, Michael Cole ran down the history between Balor and Styles, referencing their Bullet Club connection.
AJ outwrestled Finn early on, targeting his leg and back, but Balor turned up the aggressive tactics and stomped a mudhole into AJ’s chest to take control. Finn punished AJ with various strikes and submissions, going after AJ’s lower back and kidney area to try to slow him down.
AJ was able to get a second wind, and fought his way back into control. As he was prepping for a Phenomenal Forearm, Dominik Mysterio swept AJ’s legs and AJ hit the apron hard. The interference led to a brawl on the outside between the four others, and that fight spilled over the ringside barricade and through the audience.
— WWE (@WWE) November 27, 2022
This left only the two opponents in the ring where Finn appeared to have the advantage, hitting a Standing Double Stomp onto AJ. But AJ had no quit in him and when Finn tried to use AJ’s own move, the Styles Clash, AJ fired up and fought his way out of it, taking Finn out with some hard shots.
The match picked up speed, with them exchanging high-impact moves and pinfall attempts. Finn went for a Double Stomp off the top, but AJ moved and Finn landed hard on his leg. AJ tried to take advantage, rolling Finn up into the Calf Crusher, but Finn escaped by smashing AJ’s head into the mat repeatedly.
They exchanged fists and forearms, with AJ getting the best of that, before he finally hit the Phenomenal Forearm that put Finn down for the pin.
This was a good wrestling match, but the crowd really didn’t seem to be invested. The ending kind of came out of nowhere and felt a bit flat. Still, AJ probably needed the win more than Finn, so that’s good. But it likely doesn’t settle anything between the two factions, so expect this one to continue.
Winner: AJ Styles
A Liv Morgan video aired, talking about her WWE fandom as a child which led to her ultimately cashing in the Money in the Bank contract to beat Ronda Rousey for the Smackdown Women’s Championship. Lots of clips of her destroying Lacey Evans who unfortunately was treated like collateral damage during the rise of Liv.
In a short video clip, Ozzy Osbourne plugged his new album, which is out now. When it comes to his name, it’s best to get the F out. Because that other band is pretty bad, notwithstanding the one song that many wrestling fans know and sing along to every week.
Match 3: Shotzi vs. Ronda Rousey (c) (w/ Shayna Baszler) – for the Smackdown Women’s Championship
It was announced that Racquel Rodriguez will be out of action for 4-6 months after suffering an arm injury at the hands of Shayna and Ronda. The injury has also prevented her from getting cleared to be in Shotzi’s corner tonight. The commentators said that Shotzi dedicated the match to her late father.
Shotzi tried to attack at the bell, but Ronda caught her and threw her around. But Shotzi’s devil-may-care attitude drove her to keep attacking and soon she had Ronda scrambling. Ronda went to the floor to escape, and as Shotzi went for a Running Dive, Shayna pushed Ronda out of the way and took the bullet for her.
Shotzi wasn’t fazed, though, and kept going after Ronda like a pitbull on a poodle. But when Shotzi went for a Dive of the top, Ronda caught her and countered with a Somersault Judo Throw that knocked the wind out of Shotzi and knocked her flat.
Ronda then started to work her submission game, going for locks on Shotzi’s arms and legs, and then hitting some major strikes. But Ronda got cocky and turned to mock the crowd, and Shotzi hit her with a huge haymaker that dropped Ronda. SHotzi tried to follow that up with a move off the apron to the floor, but it turned out being a Greco-Roman Botch.
The fight continued on the floor, and after Ronda and Shayna got dumped into the first row, Shotzi hit them with a dive off the ringside barrier that wiped out them and several planted members of the WWE Universe.
— WWE (@WWE) November 27, 2022
Shotzi tried to go aerial again, but Ronda caught her and Judo Threw her off the top rope, hit her with Piper’s Pit, and then locked on an Armbar from which Shotzi could not escape and had no alternative but to tap out.
This wasn’t quite bowling shoe ugly, but it wasn’t NOT quite bowling shoe ugly either. Perhaps because nobody in the world believed Shotzi was winning, it felt like they were just filling time. Granted, they tried – and the crowd did appreciate the spot in the front row. But they really could have put this on TV instead of PPV.
Winner, and still Smackdown Women’s Champion: Ronda Rousey
A Cody Rhodes video package aired. He tore his pectoral muscle right off the bone during a workout. See, that’s why I never exercise.
Sami Zayn arrived at Roman’s dressing room for a sit-down with the Tribal Chief. Roman asked him if Sami had talked with Kevin Owens last night, and Sami admitted that he had. Roman then asked why Sami lied about it to Jey. Sami, seeming a bit nervous, said that he didn’t want to put that kind of thing in Jey’s head right before Jey had to compete in a match with the WarGames advantage at stake. He then clarified, saying that it wasn’t really a conversation with Owens and that Owens was talking at him, not with him. Roman asked what Owens had said, and Sami told him that Owens’ advice was for Sami to turn on the Bloodline before they turned on him. Roman reminded Sami that the Bloodline was his family. He told Sami to look him in the eyes and tell him if he was with them or if he was going to stab them in the back. Sami insisted that he would never let the Bloodline down – that he was with them for life. Roman embraced Sami and said “Let’s do it,” but the look in Roman’s eyes suggested there may be some doubt in his mind. As always, both Roman and Sami were great in this segment.
Match 4: Bobby Lashley vs. Austin Theory vs. Seth Rollins (c) – Triple Threat match for the United States Championship
In a funny bit, Bobby and Seth took turns sending Theory to the floor right at the bell, so they could focus on fighting each other. But then when Seth got too close to the apron, Theory struck, pulling Seth out of the ring and driving him into the ringside barrier. He then went after Lashley, attacking him with fervour, which seemed like bad strategy. Lashley took over, simultaneously hitting Seth with a DDT and Austin with a Flatliner. Lashley nearly got the pin on Seth, but Theory broke it up by pulling the ref out of the ring.
Lashley and Theory fought out on the floor, which allowed Seth to pick his spots, and he clocked both opponents with the ring steps. Theory then alternated between beating up Seth and going to the floor to keep Lashley out there and away from the ring.
Rollins recovered and he hit a series of dives to the floor, nailing his opponents individually, and then taking them both out at the same time. After that, Seth reversed a Theory attack and hit a Power Driver for a near-fall.
Lashley fired up and got back into the ring. He clamped the Hurt Lock on Rollins, and then Theory jumped on Lashley’s back for a Sleeper attempt. But soon all three were down, and the race to get to their feet was on. Seth won the race and he went for a Phoenix Splash on Lashley, but Lashley moved and Seth landed on his feet. Only to be thrown out from behind by Theory, who then hit a Rolling Blockbuster on Lashley. He looked to finish off Lashely with A-Town Down, but Lashley went over the top and he put on the Hurt Lock. In a great sequence, Theory scaled the ropes and pushed off, putting Lashley on his back, and Theory rolled over so that Lashley’s shoulders were down. But as the ref’s hand was about to hit a third time, Seth broke it up by Frog-Splashing Lashley’s exposed torso. But Lashley kicked out of the subsequent pinfall attempt! That one looked like it could have ended things – stellar sequence.
A neat moment saw Lashley put a Hurt Lock on Seth while Theory’s body was sandwiched between them, but then Seth ran backwards to the corner to break it up.
— WWE (@WWE) November 27, 2022
Some big move attempts and counters, and soon Theory and Lashley were on their knees. Seth saw the opportunity and used Austin’s body as a launchpad to hit Lashley with the Curb Stomp.
Theory and Seth both tried to capitalize and get the pin. They fought up to the top turnbuckle, where Seth hit a Superplex and then converted that into a Falcon Arrow. But as soon as he got Theory up, Lashley Speared Seth. But when Seth went down, Theory fell on top of him and before Lashley could even register what was happening and try to break it up, the ref had counted the 1-2-3 and Theory became the new champion.
This was a really good match, and everyone got a chance to shine. The last few minutes of this were really strong, and there were some really creative sequences, including the finish. The win is the right thing for Theory. Though it still remains to be seen what the company is going to do with Lashley, who just doesn’t seem to be being used correctly. Maybe time to move him to Smackdown to freshen things up?
Winner, and new United States Champion: Austin Theory
A video package for the Miz aired. This was followed by a commercial for WWEShop with the New Day. They ended up looting the place like they were Cryme Tyme v2.0.
In the Bloodline dressing room, Jey asked Roman if Sami had lied to him. Roman said he had looked in Sami’s eye and saw everything he needed to see. Despite the ambiguous answer, Jey assumed he’d been vindicated and left, looking satisfied.
Match 5: The Bloodline (Roman Reigns, Jimmy Uso, Jey Uso, Solo Sikoa, and Sami Zayn) (w/ Paul Heyman) vs. The Brawling Brutes (Sheamus, Ridge Holland, and Butch), Kevin Owens, and Drew McIntyre
A new computer graphic for the Bloodline during their entrance looks like a giant tree with their faces in the branches. So apparently the Island of Relevance is home to Fangorn Forest. And if you get that reference… NEEEERD!
Michael Cole explained that Paul Heyman was a WarGames strategy specialist, referencing his managing the Dangerous Alliance in such a match back in WCW. And with that, the Vince McMahon era is truly over.
Jey Uso and Butch started things off, and the commentators noted Butch had a lot of WarGames experience in NXT. But the experience didn’t help him much against the deathly prowess of Jey who outmuscled Butch and hurt him with strikes, stomps, and through effective use of the cage environment, which must be kind of reminiscent of the Uso Penitentiary.
Ridge Holland was in next and he was able to match Jey’s power, allowing him and Butch to put the pain on Jey, working over all his limbs and extremities.
Jimmy Uso was anxious to go in next, but Roman stopped him and directed Sami to hit the ring and help Jey. Sami approached the ring, but was reluctant to go in, since Ridge and Butch were waiting right at the door to deliver the pain. As they watched him approach, Jey recovered and attacked them, allowing Sami to come in – and even work with Jey on a double-team move. But that cohesion didn’t last long, and after Jey and Sami started arguing, Ridge bashed them both. But Sami was still a team player and he pulled Jey out of the way of a charging Ridge who hit the cage head-first.
Even with Butch hurt, though, Sami and Jey weren’t able to get too Ucey, since it was time for Drew McIntyre to hit the ring and give his team the numbers advantage once again. Jey and Sami put aside their squabbling long enough to attack Drew together, but he fended them off and threw Jey into the cage numerous times before having Sami around the ring like he was throwing a Hefty bag into the back of a garbage truck. McIntyre dominated both Jey and Sami, and his team were well in control.
Looking to change that was the next entrant into the match, Jimmy Uso, who brought some tables into the ring. But the dissension between Jey and Sami continued, as they fought over who would set up the ring, forcing Jimmy to break it up. A shot of Roman in the holding cage showed him looking pretty angry at what was going on. The Bloodline regrouped long enough to attack their opponents, and had the advantage as the clock ran down for the next member of Team Brutes to enter.
That member was Kevin Owens, who brought some steel chairs into the ring, and used them to good effect on the Usos. He paused momentarily when he came face-to-face with Sami, but then they both got engaged by others. As the fight continued, Owens planted Jimmy through a table and his team were in control as the clock wound down.
The buzzer marked the entrance of Solo Sikoa into the fray, and he immediately made a difference, sending Butch into the cage and walloping Ridge. Solo and Owens met in the gap between the two cages, where Solo absorbed everything KO threw at him, and then Back Body Dropped Owens on to the steel plate that connected the two rings. Solo finally met his match in a Flying Headbutt from Drew, and as the clock ticked down to let in Sheamus, everyone was down on the ground.
Sami got up and tried to hold the cage door closed so that Sheamus couldn’t enter the ring, but that was bad strategy as Sheamus made Sami eat the door, before he got in and took shots at all the Bloodline members, including hitting a Double Clotheslines off the top rope. The Brutes trapped Sami and the Usos between the ropes and the cage and then hit a Triple Red Rover Charge, smashing them hard into the cage. Solo didn’t escape the pain, as he got dropped with White Noise off the middle turnbuckle.
So all of the Bloodline were down as Roman Reigns entered the cage to officially start the match. He rallied them all to their feet, and the two teams stared at each other across the two rings. And then the war began.
All ten men battled it out in and between the rings, and in an amusing moment, all of the Bloodline received 20 Beats of the Bodhran. After that, Sheamus and Roman fought in one ring while everyone else battled it out in the other. Sheamus went for the Brogue Kick, but Solo was a human shield for Roman and ate it instead. Roman then Speared Sheamus but Butch broke up the pinfall.
Sami then attacked Butch like a rabid honey badger. He didn’t see Jey come to lay out Butch with a Superkick. But Butch did, and he ducked, and Jey ended up kicking Sami instead and laying him out. Jey didn’t seem too interested in checking on Sami’s condition, basically writing him off as a casualty of war. Instead, he got Jimmy to help him hit Butch with a 1-D off the top rope. Then they hit Double Superkicks on Ridge and left him staggering in front of a table that had been propped up in the corner of the ring.
But his staggering lasted about a half a second before Roman put him through the table with a Spear. That looked stellar.
Drew looked to slam Roman through a table, but instead he went through it, courtesy of a Spinning Solo. Owens Stunned Solo, but Roman broke up the pin, and the two of them faced off. They went at it toe-to-toe, with Roman hitting the Superman Punch. He tried to follow up with a Spear, but Owens caught him with a Pop-up Powerbomb, for the 1-2- but no! Sami Zayn grabbed the referee’s arm to prevent the count from being finished.
Owens stared at Sami in disbelief as the crowd chanted “Sami Uso!” Sami told Kevin that Roman was his family. As Owens questioned Sami, Jimmy went for a Superkick on Owens. Owens caught Jimmy’s foot, and then Sami dropped to his knees and hit Owens with a blatant low blow.
Sami then went over to Roman and they locked eyes. Roman nodded, and that was a signal for Sami to hit Owens with a vicious Helluva Kick. Owens fell unconscious into Sami’s arms, and Sami laid him down on the mat. Then, to make peace, he offered Jey the chance to hit the killing blow in the form of a Superfly Splash. After Jey pinned Owens, Sami looked down at his lifelong friend with a look that may have been regret. Or maybe not, judging from the big hug he shared with Roman Reigns.
And if there was any doubt as to whether his sacrifice of Kevin Owens would win Sami over with Jey Uso, that doubt was entirely removed, when Jey walked up to Sami and hugged him with enthusiasm, and one might say, brotherly love.
After the match, the Bloodline all celebrated together as Sami declared his love for the family and again pledged his loyalty to Roman Reigns.
This was good, but things didn’t really pick up until Roman got in the ring. That’s when things really picked up, in terms of the action, the crowd interest, and the storyline drama. But all of that worked and the last few minutes were excellent, including the finish and the aftermath. Who would have thought at the beginning of the year that Sami Zayn would play a central part in the biggest and best storyline of the year?
Winners: The Bloodline
— WWE (@WWE) November 27, 2022
Survivor Series: WarGames - November 26, 2022
TD Garden - Boston, MA
While both of the WarGames matches were fine, neither of them will be considered among the best of those types of matches – even if you only consider the ones that were done in WWE or NXT. The main event will likely be remembered more for the Bloodline story more than the match itself. And the women’s match will probably not be remembered at all. The US title match was good, the AJ-Finn match was serviceable but nothing to write home about. And the lesss said about Shotzi-Ronda the better. For the traditional Thanksgiving-time show, this wasn’t a turkey, but there wasn’t a whole lot to be thankful about either.