IT’S THE “ONE NIGHT OF THE YEAR” WHEN RAW BATTLES SMACKDOWN, BUT DID SURVIVOR SERIES 2017 LIVE UP TO THE HYPE? COURTESY OF WWE HOME VIDEO, MATTHEW ROBERTS REVISITS IT TO FIND OUT…
Having done WrestleMania sixteen years ago, before it was the “cool” thing to do, one thing that remained on my wrestling “bucket list” was to do a Survivor Series trip. In 2017 I finally got around to it. Having thoroughly enjoyed my experience in Houston, which took in NXT War Games (as a VIP “guest” nonetheless), Survivor Series and Raw now WWE Home Video presents me with the opportunity to relive the event.
In the flesh Survivor Series, for it’s few minor faults, was an excellent show. By and large that’s an impression I still have upon re-watching.
Of course it didn’t help the overall feeling that arguably the worst part of the evening’s main show festivities was the five-on-five Raw Vs Smackdown men main event. No one could really argue about Braun Strowman being a survivor, nor should anyone who has watched any WWE over the past two decades have been at all surprised that Triple H was the other survivor. That’s simply how WWE roll. Neither should it have been too much of a surprise that Shane McMahon (a man who I could quite happily never see in another wrestling match ever again – and I know I’m in a minority there by all accounts) and Kurt Angle were involved at the business end of things too. But the way that the “up and comers” (who lets face it, are not the dictionary definition of “spring chickens” themselves) were not given much opportunity to shine was still a disappointment. None of them in the match left having made any real impression. Even the return of John Cena was underwhelmingly, well, nothing much to write home about. It’s a cliché to say that the WWE has the talent but doesn’t always use it to the full, but people would have a point with this match.
Luckily the undercard, which had undergone a number of changes in the fortnight leading up to the show, was a lot, lot better.
A non-descript Brock Lesnar – Jinder Mahal champion vs champion match had been transformed by AJ Styles’ historic title win over Mahal in Manchester, England (another show I was at) and if expectations were high going into that one they were arguably surpassed with what I would class as Lesnar’s finest match of his second WWE run. Of course at first it seemed as if it would be nothing more than the usual Lesnar destruction job and you could imagine the complaints flooding onto social media. But that part of the match had to happen to make the second half so magical. From taking a supreme beating, Styles managed to fight back and even though booking logic insisted Brock had to win (to even up the ongoing Raw Vs Smackdown score) fans suddenly believed that Styles had a chance. Ultimately he didn’t win but this remained a match that enhanced both winner and loser and watching Lesnar continue to sell his injuries as he made his way back to the locker room was a clear sign of respect.
The evening’s other champion vs champion matches largely delivered too. Alexa Bliss and Charlotte delivered an old school classic, that probably wouldn’t have suited fans conditioned to expect a high-flying spot every 30 seconds but at the same time had a grasp of timing, psychology and storyline that even in the era of the Women’s Revolution isn’t always there. For me it was the most complete women’s match in the WWE Universe since Bayley battled Sasha at Takeover Brooklyn. The effect of the loss on Bliss, as shown by her reaction to it, was a welcome change from a promotion where John Cena reacts to every loss with a shrug of the shoulders and a smile too. The clash of the Tag Team champions was another stellar effort as The Uso’s and the Bar clashed in a high octane bout. European Champion Baron Corbin’s clash with Intercontinental Champion The Miz was less successful, largely because fans didn’t really have anyone to get behind. It was still a solid bout though, just nothing spectacular.
The same couldn’t have been said about the opener that pitted The Shield against The New Day. The two super over trio’s threw everything into a fun, action-packed match that certainly kicked things off on a high note. Perhaps the only downside of that was that the women’s elimination match had no real way of living up to it. Becky Lynch and Bayley’s early eliminations seemed like someone’s idea of a wind up but a tease of Nia Jax and Tamina went down well and the was Asuka went “against the odds” to prevail as the sole survivor was a classic but still effective Survivor Series trick.
All in all, Survivor Series was a great night of action. Yes it had its faults (lets face it; no-one really cares about Raw Vs Smackdown as a feud, despite some good brand warfare in the build up) but on the whole the matches delivered where they needed to and it felt like a significant event.
The extras include the three kickoff matches. Having missed Elias against Matt Hardy due to queuing to get in the building watching it now confirms that I didn’t miss much. Enzo against Kalisto is typical 205 fare (i.e. ok but far from unmissable) and Breezango’s clash with Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn is a fun waste of two of Smackdown’s bigger stars time.
Photos courtesy: Fetch, Fremantle Media, WWE
Format reviewed: BluRay
Thank you to our partners, WWEDVD.co.uk and Fetch for providing our review copy. Survivor Series 2017 is out on DVD and BluRay 22 January 2018. You can buy your copy from WWEDVD.co.uk now by clicking here