A sold out and boisterous crowd welcomed the 2016 WWE Survivor Series to the Air Canada Centre, in Toronto. The night was filled with thrilling action, some of which, featured three five-on-five Traditional Survivor Series matches. In these matches, a wrestler can be eliminated by pin, submission, disqualification or count out. This continues until all members from one team are eliminated. This year, the theme for the event was Raw vs. Smackdown. Wrestlers who usually do not get along in storylines on their respective shows, were forced to become partners for one night only, for the good of their brand. I will talk about these three matches as well as the final match of the evening. The first contest featured the women of Raw against the women of Smackdown.
Raw’s team consisted of Sasha Banks, Bayley, Charlotte, Nia Jax and Alicia Fox. Team Smackdown was comprised of Alexa Bliss, Becky Lynch, Naomi, Carmella, and Natalya. Natalya was a last minute substitution in place of Nikki Bella, who was attacked prior to the match. I have a theory on that, which I will explain at the end.
I am sure a lot of people were surprised when Carmella was eliminated, because of an Alicia Fox Scissors Kick. I figured Alicia would be gone first – she was not really involved in anything significant on Raw. But, Fox was swiftly eliminated by Alexa Bliss following a top rope splash. The elimination that disappointed me the most was Sasha Banks. She was pinned and gone from the match after a roll up by Natalya. It was fairly obvious that Charlotte was thrilled with this, as she and Sasha, who have been feuding for months, bickered throughout the match, and they were on the same team. These two women could have at least put aside their issues for just one night.
The final three were Charlotte, Bayley and Becky. Becky attempted to eliminate Bayley with her Disarmer submission. But, she countered and pinned Becky with a belly-to-belly suplex, to give the Raw women the victory. So, Charlotte and Bayley were the survivors, but they went right back to being rivals, as Charlotte attacked Bayley. This was done to continue to create interest in the upcoming rivalry. I am fine with the outcome, and even with what went on after the match. I believe though, it would have made for an awesome moment if Sasha had survived to the end. The final four would have been Sasha, Bayley, Charlotte and Becky – the self-proclaimed “Four Horsewomen.” The Toronto crowd would have gone crazy for that.
I also believe that the woman who attacked Nikki was Natalya. Nikki won a match between the two on an episode of Smackdown to become captain. Natalya petitioned Daniel Bryan (who is the on screen General Manager of Smackdown) for a spot on the team. So, Bryan put her as a coach. I think Natalya felt she deserved more than just being a coach – so that is why I feel she attacked Nikki.
For the first time since the 1988 Survivor Series, there was a ten-team elimination match – five tag teams from Raw against five tag teams from Smackdown. The rules were obviously a little different. If one member of a tag team was eliminated, his partner had to vacate the ringside area. With twenty men involved in the match, it made for a great visual, and sometimes a very chaotic scene. To nobody’s surprise, the first tag team that was eliminated was Breezango – Fandango and Tyler Breeze, when the New Day from Raw hit Fandango with their Big Ending finisher.
The next elimination shocked the ACC and those watching at home, as the New Day, the captains for the tag teams of Raw, was gone because of a Jimmy Uso superkick. The tag team of American Alpha did really well for their first Survivor Series. They hit all their big moves, including a top-rope bulldog. This move eliminated the Shining Stars – Primo and Epico. Even though this would likely be American Alpha’s new finisher, I thought it was really fantastic to adopt this move in honor of the legendary Steiner Brothers.
The final two teams were Sheamus and Cesaro from Raw and the Usos from Smackdown. The fans were entertained by both teams. At one point Cesaro performed his Cesaro Swing. This move requires a lot of strength. I am still amazed that Cesaro does not become dizzy while executing this move, considering the amount of swings he and his opponent take. Later, he performed the Sharpshooter on Jey Uso. That caused an eruption at the ACC, because it was a move done by the legendary Canadian wrestler, Bret Hart. Sheamus stopped Jimmy Uso from getting involved. Jey Uso tapped out, giving Sheamus, Cesaro and the tag teams of Monday Night Raw the victory. It was a thrilling and hard-fought match. But, while it was fun to watch, with so many bodies involved, it was also hard to follow. I can only imagine what the fans at the ACC were experiencing. I hope the WWE does more of these multi-team elimination matches at future Survivor Series events – it was very entertaining.
The men’s 5 on 5 Elimination Match should have been the main event. Raw’s side consisted of Kevin Owens, Chris Jericho, Braun Strowman, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns. Team Smackdown was comprised of AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose, Bray Wyatt, Randy Orton and Shane McMahon, along with their “mascot” James Ellsworth, who surprisingly came into play during the match.
There was a lot that happened in this battle. Strowman eliminated Ambrose with a running powerslam. As a result, Dean’s role as a team member of AJ Styles was over – and that is important to remember. Then, things got even crazier.
Braun Strowman, who is over 400 pounds, performed a dropkick on Bray, sending him to the arena floor. Randy Orton then hit the RKO on his adversary, which allowed Braun to land on the announcer’s table. When Bray and Randy positioned Strowman properly on the table, Shane McMahon went to the top rope, and performed a breath taking flying elbow on the largest member of team Raw. This caused the table to collapse, and the crowd to go completely insane. Shane somehow returned to the ring. As Braun tried to re-enter the ring, someone grabbed his leg from under the ring. That someone was James Ellsworth. Braun became angry and chased James to the entrance. Braun Strowman was counted out, and eliminated. In a fit of rage, he powerbombed Ellsworth from the entrance ramp through a couple of tables placed on the arena floor.
Another memorable moment occurred when Smackdown’s Dean Ambrose returned for some retribution on AJ Styles. He attacked his former teammate from behind on the arena floor. Reigns and Rollins took apart another announcer’s table. Ambrose then joined them and performed a triple powerbomb through the table onto AJ. The crowd went wild when this happened – it brought back memories of the Shield. Once Rollins got AJ back in the ring, he was pinned and eliminated.
At one point in the match, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns double teamed Shane McMahon. Shane held his own, as he performed a spine buster on Rollins, and began focusing on Reigns. Shane sent Reigns shoulder-first into a ring post, and then went to the top rope on the opposite side of the ring. He attempted to dropkick Reigns, a move Shane calls “coast to coast”. Roman quickly got up and executed a wicked and nasty looking spear onto Shane. As the referee was counting, he stopped at two. He saw that Shane eyes looked glazed over, and declared him unable to continue. Shane was eliminated. Fans did not like the referee’s decision, but it was the right one to make, especially when no one is completely sure if Shane was going to be okay. He looked lifeless laying in the ring, and the audience was concerned. It took referees and other officials a long time to get him out of the ring. But, after watching Smackdown on Tuesday night, he looked okay, but seemed to moving much slower, and had less enthusiasm than normal. That is very understandable. As much as pro wrestling is scripted, sometimes things can go wrong – so everyone involved must try to take care of their opponent, and make sure no legitimate injuries occur in a match.
The final participants were Reigns, Wyatt and Orton. Roman tried his best, but could not overcome the odds this time. Bray hit his Sister Abigail finisher on Reigns for the win. Smackdown won the match, with Bray and Randy as the survivors. The crowd was very happy that Roman was not victorious – he got a lot of boos from the crowd at the Air Canada Centre.
What an unbelievable match that was! It had everything – a brief reunion, close calls, Shane McMahon putting his life on the line for his team and for the fans by providing some absolutely insane moments. Again, glad to see Shane is okay. I will also say this match was so much more entertaining than the main event.
For weeks, the WWE was building up Bill Goldberg against Brock Lesnar as the Survivor Series main event. Goldberg received a great response from the crowd. When the two wrestlers were finally face to face in the ring, the excitement was off the charts. Lesnar had just one offensive move – when he pushed Goldberg into a corner. Goldberg pushed back. He hit two spears on Lesnar then finished him with the Jackhammer suplex for the win. That was the match. The Air Canada Centre was completely stunned, and was thrilled that Goldberg won. I will say the end result did not shock a lot of people. How fast it happened surprised everyone. It only took 86 seconds from start to finish.
I am sure many were disappointed with the timing of the match. As I write this, I am still not sure how to feel about what happened. But, when Goldberg was in World Championship Wrestling in 1997 and 1998, he became known for his quick matches, and grew popular because of it. I am sure the WWE knew that, and used it as a tool to shock the audience. With the knowledge of Goldberg’s past matches that fans have, nobody should have any issue with the company playing to Goldberg’s strengths to provide an element of surprise. What should probably disappoint people is that the company placed a match that was under two minutes as the main event on one of the biggest shows of the year.
The 30th annual Survivor Series was full of action and intensity. The crowd was into every match. In my opinion, the men’s 5 on 5 Elimination Match was the best of the night because of all the craziness that occurred. Shane McMahon did more than he should have done, and the fans appreciated it, and the brief Shield reunion was awesome. Even the main event, though very brief, served its purpose. The WWE should be really proud of this event. I am sure that fans are still buzzing about it, and will be for a long time.