Monday, November 27, 2023

The History of WWE Survivor Series (2022)

In 2022 under Triple H's creative direction, WWE decided to abandon the Survivor Series concept once again, this time in favor of WarGames, which on paper sounded much more fun than it turned out to be.....

This was another example of a WWE event that was pretty widely praised but just didn't do a lot for me.  WWE's version of WarGames is just so sterilized and substitutes fluff violence for the actual violence of WarGames past (and AEW's present).  Somehow seeing the same old table spots and kendo stick floggings doesn't make this match stand out, regardless of the fact that they're in a caged double ring.  Couple that with the company's need to make every WarGames match 35 minutes or more, and it just becomes a slog for me.  Also the pinfall rule is kinda weak for this match, it should be submission-only.  Leading up to November 2022 I was very excited to see what Triple H would do with the Survivor Series concept.  Turned out he didn't do anything with it.

Both WarGames matches on this show were fine.  They were well executed, the men's match furthered the Bloodline story, but I didn't find anything that happened in either of them particularly memorable and I would've enjoyed both more as Survivor Series elimination matches.

The undercard featured two good matches and one bad one.

The show started with the women's WarGames bout, pitting Damage CTRL, Rhea Ripley and Nikki Cross against Bianca Belair, Asuka, Alexa Bliss, Mia Yim, and the last-minute addition of a just-returned Becky Lynch.  The heels had the man advantage and a bunch of stuff happened as the whole match built up to the long-awaited Becky vs. Bayley.  The most memorable spot of the match was a breathtaking Iyo Sky moonsault off the top of the cage.  But Becky ended up winning the match for her team, legdropping Iyo and Dakota through a table.  Like I said, this was fine, but there were better women's WarGames matches in NXT.

Next up was the match I was most looking forward to, a rematch from four years earlier between AJ Styles and Finn Balor.  Sadly unlike their excellent impromptu match from TLC 2017 (Finn was scheduled to wrestle Bray Wyatt but Wyatt had a health issue that kept him off the show), this never got out of second gear.  AJ really hasn't been great since 2018 and this was yet another of his bouts that fell way short of expectations.  Since Finn won their first match it was pretty much a forgone conclusion AJ would even the score here, which he did after a Phenomenal Forearm. 

The worst match of the night by far was Ronda Rousey vs. Shotzi, in a seven-minute near-squash where Ronda's title reign was never really in danger.  Ronda's 2022-23 run was nowhere near the level of her first stint in the company, and matches like this are a perfect illustration.  Ronda toyed with Shotzi for most of the match before finishing her with an armbar.  Not good at all.

The show stealer for me was the US Title triple threat of Seth Rollins, Bobby Lashley and Austin Theory.  This was at a time when the company was still trying to make "fetch" happen with Theory even though Vince wasn't in charge anymore.  These three all worked really hard and strung together a fast-paced match full of dramatic nearfalls and broken-up pin attempts.  The finish was creative too, as Seth went for a suplex on Theory but Lashley speared Seth, causing Theory to fall on top of him for the win and the US Title.  Very good match that upstaged either WarGames for me.

The main event pitted the Bloodline (plus Sami Zayn) against Sheamus, Drew McIntyre, Ridge Holland, Butch and Kevin Owens.  And it was basically the same type of match as the women's bout except the babyfaces had the man advantage which threw off the entire flow, and the bigger story was Sami Zayn's loyalty being tested.  Sami clashed with Jey Uso several times but ultimately the teammates worked together.  The finish came after Kevin Owens hit a pop-up powerbomb on Roman only for Sami to stop the referee's count and hit Owens with a low blow, followed by a Helluva Kick.  Jey then came off the top with a splash for the win.  Sami proved his loyalty and was accepted by everyone in the Bloodline, including Jey.  Again, this was fine.  But an elimination rules match would've been so much more intriguing and given them so many more storytelling possibilities.

So yeah, I'm not crazy about Survivor Series being co-opted as an annual WarGames event.  I just don't find WWE's version of the gimmick very exciting or memorable, and I hate that the 5-on-5 elimination match has become a lost art.  This show was so middling for me at the time that I couldn't even bring myself to write a review after it aired; I didn't feel strongly about anything on it.

Best Match: Seth vs. Bobby vs. Austin
Worst Match: Ronda vs. Shotzi
What I'd Change: Bring back the fucking Survivor Series concept.
Most Disappointing Match: AJ Styles vs. Finn Balor
Most Pleasant Surprise: The triple threat
Overall Rating: 7.5/10
Better than WrestleMania, SummerSlam or Royal Rumble?: 'Mania Night 1 was better

And that brings us to the present day.  I hope you've enjoyed another series of WWE History lessons here at!

Before I go though, here are my Top Ten Survivor Series PPVs and Top 20 SS Matches of all time....

Top Ten Survivor Series

10. 1996
9. 2019
8. 1989
7. 2009
6. 2012
5. 1995
4. 2016
3. 2018
2. 1987
1. 1988

Top 20 Survivor Series Matches

20. CM Punk vs. John Cena vs. Ryback - 2012
19. Batista vs. Undertaker - 2007
18. Dolph Ziggler vs. John Morrison - 2011
17. Seth Rollins vs. Shinsuke Nakamura - 2018
16. Ronda Rousey vs. Charlotte Flair - 2018
15. Edge/Mysterio vs. Angle/Benoit vs. Los Guerreros - 2002
14. Diesel vs. Bret Hart - 1995
13. Brock Lesnar vs. AJ Styles - 2017
12. WWF vs. Alliance - 2001
11. Randy Orton vs. Shawn Michaels - 2007
10. Brock Lesnar vs. Daniel Bryan - 2018
9. Team Foley vs. Team Ziggler - 2012
8. Team Strike Force vs. Team Hart Foundation - 1987
7. RAW vs. Smackdown Men's - 2016
6. Wild Card Match - 1995
5. Alberto Del Rio vs. CM Punk - 2011
4. Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels - 1992
3. Team Austin vs. Team Bischoff - 2003
2. Team Demolition vs. Team Powers of Pain - 1988
1. Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin - 1996

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