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    Tuesday, November 20, 2018

    The Smark Henry Pay-Per-Review: Survivor Series 2018

    Not bad at all for only a couple of weeks' build.

    When Survivor Series rolled in, my main gripe was that there was too little time left from Evolution and Crown Jewel to build the show, especially with the WWE main roster creative being too myopic to juggle storytelling duties for three different shows bunched together so closely. They easily fell back on the brand versus brand trope because it was just right there, but with two weeks even that felt like a stretch.

    So when injuries and accidents and heel turns happened, it didn't feel like we were going through a sprint of a buildup to the show. The week going home to Survivor Series finally felt like a culmination of the month before it, and they ended up with a show that at least looked watchable on paper.

    The biggest theme of this year's Survivor Series is major changes. Not just simple switches or swerves, but groundbreaking status quo shifts. After months and years of trying to bank on Charlotte Flair as the John Cena of the women's division, SmackDown banked left and went with a badass Becky Lynch who captured straight fire in a bottle. After getting him back from retirement, Daniel Bryan quickly regained the WWE Championship and turned heel in the process.

    And things didn't stop at Survivor Series itself; Charlotte would end up following her (former) best friend to the dark side, and now SmackDown's women's division will have to reorganize itself to accommodate these new changes.

    They all knew that with the messed up October they've had, they needed something to get people talking about them again. They didn't just give us one, too.

    This Survivor Series was, as is the usual for WWE main roster pay-per-views, a show of moments and characters. It's not the most perfect show; there are a handful of solid matches scattered among most of the merely serviceable brand versus brand battles (which still provide a stable foundation, don't get me wrong) but you'll always remember it by who shook the earth with their actions.

    Survivor Series 2018 Final Grade: B+

    Match of the Night

    There were doubts as to whether this was going to play out like a typical Brock Lesnar hit-and-run, but the Beast's full respect was on display here as Bryan looked to have a bigger fighting chance than his stature would otherwise suggest. Even in the loss, he's already established the kind of WWE Champion he's going to be on SmackDown moving forward. Sometimes the best, tensest drama comes from the metanarrative, and this is a fine example.

    Other observations

    • Welcome to Survivor Series, where SmackDown never gets a bone thrown their way. This is probably to assuage Vince McMahon's ego because RAW is hardly ever the better show each week.
    • What is with WWE not acknowledging the preshow result? While I get that the kickoff is generally not part of "main show canon" for DVD purposes, there's no way anyone won't notice that Team SmackDown won against RAW in the tag team elimination match. If you didn't want to ruin the visual of RAW getting a 4-0 sweep, then why even book SmackDown to win the match? Why book the match at all? This is one of those things that feel incredibly petty, stupid, and insulting to the audience's intelligence.
    • Nia Jax needs to move to SmackDown in order to capitalize on her nuclear heat. She already has that future title shot she won at Evolution, so challenging Becky Lynch makes the most sense. If they really wanted to, they could also write it as RAW sending her over as a sleeper agent to try and take Becky out. These things write themselves.
    • But while we're talking about nuclear heat, always remember that what happened with her and Becky was an accident, and with guidance and experience the two of 'em can probably make something great out of this.
    • Nakamura vs. Rollins was so, so good. I want this match to happen again, for more than just a champion vs. champion story. It's not ROH or NJPW-style wrestling but for the context it's in, it's the second-best match on this card.
    • Also strange that there's no Dean Ambrose interference, but they did want RAW to win the whole competition. At least they already booked Seth vs. Dean at TLC next month.
    • A clean Buddy Murphy vs. Mustafa Ali match, even though there was no new result. They played it safe here, and I was really hoping they wouldn't considering they actually made it to the main card of an actual PPV.
    • Speaking of 205 Live.... how is anyone ever going to take Drake Maverick seriously on the show again? Anyone, whether they're heel or face, could threaten him and make him pee.
    • I was really hoping Team RAW's bickering would be their undoing this year, but all you need to get through is a Braun Strowman. Singlehandedly taking out four guys, at least, puts him back over as the Monster Among Men.
    • Check out the look on Drew McIntyre after being the guy to take Samoa Joe out. I wish Joe had more time in this match, but you gotta do what you gotta do.
    • Imagine being such terrible babyfaces in the WWE that the only way you get cheers is by being a badass. This is a perennial problem the company keeps "miraculously" finding solutions to. Maybe if you fixed your babyface problem, you wouldn't have to keep turning everyone heel?
    • Although the only babyface that really worked lately was Daniel Bryan, and it was his choice to go bad. Not necessarily because he thought it wasn't working, but because he just wanted to try something new. How good it is right now just reinforces the idea that going heel may save your career.

    Photo from Portrait of a Wrestler


    Romeo Moran (@roiswar) is the Editor in Chief of Smark Henry and one of the three hosts of the Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast. He gets by in this hard knock life through working in publishing. Smark Henry was his and Stan Sy's original vision of a watering hole for local wrestling fans. He roots for the undersized guys who hit hard, but really hates Davey Richards with his entire soul. He likes taking your wrestling questions over on his CuriousCat account.
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    Item Reviewed: The Smark Henry Pay-Per-Review: Survivor Series 2018 Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Romeo Moran
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