Survivor Series (2019) – NXT is the Third Brand

2019 Survivor SeriesLast weekend the WWE held its 33rd annual Survivor Series event at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois. It’s been quite some time but my brother and I got together to watch the show (with my boys in tow until their bedtime).

If I’m being honest I’ve not watched much wrestling at all lately. I never watch Smackdown and while I record Raw every week I can’t tell you the last time I sat down and actually watched the show. I’ll read up now and then on story lines but candidly I don’t feel like I’m missing much. I’m not going to bother going into the current ‘wrestling war’ we’re going through with WWE / NXT going up against AEW. Bottom line, the WWE product has been pretty poor in my opinion so I’ve been taking a break. All of that to say I had nearly zero idea of what I’d see with this show.

When it comes to the ‘Big Four’ WWE PPVs this has always been my least favorite. That’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed Survivor Series through the years, but it just doesn’t have the ‘oompf’ (for me) that Mania, Rumble and SummerSlam. Overall I’ve got to say this was a better show than I expected. My buddy Jesse has been telling me for years that I need to go out of my way to watch NXT and based on what I saw from those performers on this show he’s absolutely right. Let’s get into it.

Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode Won a 10-team Interbrand Tag Team Battle Royal

Lio Rush Defeated Akira Tozawa and Kalisto to Retain the NXT Cruiserweight Championship

The Viking Raiders Defeated The New Day and The Undisputed Era

I didn’t watch the pre show. I’ve said it before and I’ll repeat it again… there’s a reason these matches don’t make the main card. To me this feels like a bunch of guys throw together to get them a PPV paycheck. There’s nothing wrong with that mind you, but it’s not going to peak my interest. I will say that the NXT Cruiserweight match looks like it may be worth going back to watch.

Team NXT Defeated Team Raw and Team SmackDown – Survivor Series Match

Ladies Survivor Series - Survivor Series 2019

This was a good way to start the main PPV. Team NXT was made up of Rhea Ripley, Bianca Belair, Candice LeRae, Io Shirai and Toni Storm. Team Raw was Charlotte Flair, Natalya, Asuka, Kairi Sane and Sarah Logan. Team Smackdown was Sasha Banks, Carmella, Dana Brooke, Lacey Evans and Nikki Cross. If I had to make a pick going in I would have gone with Raw. Seeing NXT get the win here tells me that they’re going to be pushing the NXT brand to the moon for the rest of the night. All the ladies worked hard here and with the exception of a mid match injury angle that sent Shirai and LeRae to the back without being eliminated. Unless you’ve never seen a Survivor Series ever you just knew these gals were coming back later. I really appreciated the Charlotte / Asuka tussle in the middle of the match. I’ve never like Asuka but what can I say… I’m a sucker for the old school green mist gimmick.

Roderick Strong Defeated AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura

Roderick Strong, AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura - Survivor Series 2019

Coming in, Roderick Strong is the North American Champion, AJ Styles is the United States Champion and Shinsuke Nakamura is the Intercontinental Champion. This was a really, really strong match that serves a couple of purposes in my book. First of all, it continues the narrative that NXT is a strong brand putting Strong over two top tier performers. Secondly it gives us some of the best ‘wrestling’ we’re going to see all night. 16 minutes of action where everyone came out looking really great and no one looks weak even without getting a win. Solid booking here.

Adam Cole Defeated Pete Dunne to Retain the NXT Championship

Adam Cole vs Pete Dunne - Survivor Series 2019

Another solid match even for guys that I’m not super familiar with. I did recognize Dunne as the ‘guy that bends people’s fingers back’ guy but I can’t help to think he looks like a shrunken down Rhino. In any case, another super solid match that shows just how great Cole is as champion, especially when you consider the brutal night he had the night before at Wargames – something that the announcers manged to put over really nicely without being too overbearing about it.

“The Fiend” Bray Wyatt Defeated Daniel Bryan to Retain the WWE Universal Championship

Bray Wyatt vs Daniel Bryan - Survivor Series 2019

I’m torn on this one. On one hand it was a tremendous match pitting a baby face-ish Daniel Bryan against the monster heel of Wyatt. The problem I have is with the presentation. The red lighting they use for Fiend matches simply HAS to stop. The WWE is crushing any goodwill they’ve built around the character by insisting on the red lighting during his matches. They’re nearly unwatchable and that’s a shame since this match was otherwise REALLY entertaining. I had a friend on Twitter suggest watching these Fiend matches in black and white. While that would certainly help I’m not sure that I as the viewer should need to go to the trouble. Keep the red for his intro and exit… lose it from the match itself.

Team SmackDown Defeated Team Raw and Team NXT – Survivor Series Match

Mens Survivor Series Match - Survivor Series 2019

Team SmackDown is Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman, King Corbin, Mustafa Ali, and Shorty G. Team Raw is Seth Rollins, Drew McIntyre, Kevin Owens, Randy Orton, and Ricochet. Team NXT is Tommaso Ciampa, Damian Priest, Matt Riddle, Keith Lee, and Walter. This match lasts nearly a half an hour and is the one of the night where I constantly found myself asking ‘who the hell is this guy?’  Now, I realize that’s probably because I don’t watch NXT and as I said before I’m going to rectify that.

That said Matt Riddle is just sort of a cartoonish throwback to the mid 80s where wrestlers were caricatures of their jobs – plumber, dentist, repo man, etc. This guy’s a surfer. Um… OK. Then we’ve got… Walter. Um. What? Apparently he’s a beast that was unbeaten coming in to the night. And then he gets kicked by Drew McIntyre and he’s gone. Not sure if there was history there between those two but it was just sort of weird.

And then we get to Keith Lee. First off, I know his name was Keith Lee cause the announcers said Keith Lee about 1,000 times just in the last few minutes of the match. Keith Lee was really pretty good here and Keith Lee had some PRIME spots with Roman. Keith Lee did himself a ton of favors and Keith Lee is set to get a push to the moon. Keith Lee.

Brock Lesnar Defeated Rey Mysterio to Retain the WWE Championship – No Holds Barred Match

Brock Lesnar vs Rey Mysterio - Survivor Series 2019

This was seven minutes of pure entertainment. Rey’s son comes to the ring and since it’s a No Holds Barred match they proceed to double team Lesnar to the point where I actually thought they might put the strap on Rey for one last run – that’s what pro wrestling is all about… suspension of disbelief. I’m not a huge fan of Lesnar only because I can’t stand the way he’s always got a title but is never really around but I’ve got give him credit – when he gets in the ring his matches are always entertaining.

Shayna Baszler Defeated Becky Lynch and Bayley

Shayna Baszler, Becky Lynch and Bayley - Survivor Series 2019

On paper this should have been one of the best matches of the night and deserved to close the show. In reality it fell sort of flat and ended the program on sort of a down note for me.  Shayna Baszler is the current NXT Women’s Champion, Lynch is the Raw Women’s Champion and Bayley is the SmackDown Women’s Champion. All three ladies worked really hard here but I have to say that Bayley really shouldn’t have been in there. The program is clearly pointing to Baszler and Lynch in the future. And while Shayna got the win WWE just couldn’t allow the show to go off the air without ‘The Man’ getting her heat back. Weird way to end the show with the loser of the match standing tall but I spose I get it.

Final Thoughts

Overall this was a much better show that I anticipated. We’re only a couple of weeks out from the next PPV and before we know it it’ll be Royal Rumble time and we’ll be on the Road to WrestleMania… and that’s always the best time to be a wrestling fan. It seems they’re really going out of their way to make NXT a third brand and not a developmental program. If they continue to deliver the way they did tonight (and Monday on Raw) they’re going to start seeing their ratings turn around for the good.

Upcoming WWE PPV Schedule

  • TLC: Tables, Ladders, Chairs – 12.15.2019
  • Royal Rumble – 1.26.2020
  • Fastlane – February
  • Elimination Chamber – 3.8.2020
  • WrestleMania 36 – 4.5.2020

Did you watch Survivor Series? Let me know what you thought in the comments below!

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