For over thirty years, the preeminent event in the WWE fall calendar has been the Survivor Series. This year’s show emanated from the All State Arena in Chicago. With NXT (the company’s third brand) gaining so much traction because of the move to cable television in the U.S., the WWE decided to include them in the battle for brand supremacy. However, NXT held its event the night before. NXT Takeover: War Games featured some great matches headlined by two Wargames matches – the first of which featured the women of NXT, captained by Shayna Baszler and Rhea Ripley respectively.

The match began with Candice Lerae and Io Shirai in the ring. Later in the match, the ring filled with representatives from both teams: Rhea Ripley, Candice Lerae, Io Shirai, Bianca Belair and Kay Lee Ray. The clock hit zero, and the next one to enter the caged ring was either Dakota Kai or Tegan Nox, to balance the sides. As Dakota exited the cage, she turned around and viciously attacked her friend, Tegan Nox. She even went after Tegan’s previously injured knee. The Chicago crowd was stunned. So were Rhea and Candice. Shayna Baszler was enjoying what was occurring, as she waited to enter. With Dakota turning on her team, and with Nox in no shape to participate, the odds were stacked against Rhea and Candice.

The end came after Ripley handcuffed herself to Shayna. She lifted her and slammed her onto two previously set up chairs for the win. To the surprise of most, Rhea Ripley and Candice Lerae defied the odds. While the win was tremendous, I know the two survivors have to be upset at Dakota for doing what she did, not only to Tegan Nox, but to the entire team.

The main event of Takeover featured the Men’s Wargames match. Team Ciampa faced the Undisputed Era, and the match had a bit of everything. One man in the match had a really strong showing and ended up being the star of the match, in my opinion. That man was Keith Lee. Now, rarely in the world of professional wrestling do fans see a guy who weighs close to 350 pounds move with finesse. He leapfrogged over both Kyle O Reilly and Bobby Fish. He demonstrated strength when he and his equally strong comrade, Dominik Dijakovic launched Roderick Strong from one ring to another. Lee moves like a cruiserweight, and his speed always leaves audiences wanting more.

The final stretch of the match was filled with action and excitement. There were broken tables, exhausted wrestlers, including captains, Adam Cole and Tommaso Ciampa, and debris strewn inside the rings. With all the fighting occurring, the captains scaled the top of the Wargames cage structure, and traded punches. Fans were chanting “please don’t die.” Fans realized they were tired, and also saw a table set up below the wrestlers. Ciampa positioned Cole on his shoulders and dropped him through the table to earn the Wargames victory. What a win for Ciampa, Lee, Dijakovic and Kevin Owens. Fans cheered the result and showed their appreciation for all involved. NXT had a great night at Takeover Wargames, but fans were in for a surprise the following night at Survivor Series.

Over the past few years, the Survivor Series was a battle for brand supremacy, which featured Raw against Smackdown, but this year the WWE decided to add the NXT brand. The traditional Survivor Series elimination matches were 5 vs 5 vs 5. So, it was confusing to follow at times, but fun to watch. The first match featured women from all three brands.

It came down to Natalya (Raw), Sasha Banks (Smackdown) and Rhea Ripley and Bianca Belair (NXT). Fans went crazy and broke into loud NXT chants. After forming a brief partnership, Sasha turned on Natalya and eliminated her. However, Banks was still outnumbered. After an early exit from the match due to injury, Candice LeRae and Io Shirai returned and created a distraction, which allowed Rhea Ripley to hit her Riptide finisher for the final pinfall. NXT was victorious in the opening contest, but how would they fare the rest of the night?

In the men’s elimination match, the action was exciting and crazy at times. The final three were Seth Rollins (Raw) Roman Reigns (Smackdown) and Keith Lee (NXT). Rollins and Reigns worked together briefly. But, once Seth was eliminated, the crowd was solidly behind Lee. There were moments when it looked like the NXT superstar would pull the upset, but it was not meant to be. Once Reigns hit the spear, fans knew the inevitable – that the match was over. But, despite the win for Smackdown, Roman demonstrated a lot of class by nodding and showing respect towards Keith Lee. I am sure fans would not mind a future one-on-one match between the two – it could be exciting.

The main event for Survivor Series featured the women’s champions from all three brands. Becky Lynch (Raw) battled Bayley (Smackdown) and Shayna Baszler (NXT). The end of the match came after Becky was thrown onto the announcer’s table outside the ring by Shayna. Baszler and Bayley were the final two in the ring, and the NXT champion applied a submission on her opponent. Bayley tapped out. Shayna Baszler emerged victorious, and earned the final victory of the night for the NXT brand. Becky Lynch was furious when she got up from the arena floor. The Raw women’s champion launched at Shayna and placed her on another table. Lynch dropped an elbow on her adversary. The closing scene saw Becky stand tall despite a loss.

Survivor Series weekend in Chicago was a memorable one for the WWE. I am sure fans were pleasantly surprised that NXT won the battle for brand supremacy. NXT proved that they can hang with the superstars from Raw and Smackdown. The breakout performer of the weekend was NXT’s Keith Lee. I am sure when he is called up to Raw or Smackdown, he will have a major impact. The only complaint I have about the Survivor Series event itself was the men’s elimination match was not the main event. The show began with the women’s elimination match and it should have concluded with the men’s elimination match. But, NXT performed very well. They should be proud of their weekend, and the WWE as a whole should be thrilled with the way Survivor Series weekend went for the company.

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