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The Smark Henry Pay-Per-Review: Survivor Series 2019


With NXT going live on the USA Network and staking its claim of being a co-equal brand within the WWE umbrella, it was only a matter of time until they did something brash and, well, different (read: co-exist in the muddled main roster storytelling, outside of their own universe). Perhaps it shouldn't have been a surprise, though it was very much a welcome one, that they ran all the way home with the ball at this year's Survivor Series.

Everyone knew that Vince McMahon loved his main roster brands, especially RAW. So when NXT was announced as being a part of the brand warfare festivities this year, some (myself included) might have felt that the upstart yellow brand—the son-in-law's creation—was there as some sort of sacrificial lamb with coattails to ride on. They did, after all, need a shot in the arm, with AEW doing so well in the ratings and with fandom.

Any other result and this Survivor Series might have been a disappointment, so thank the wrestling gods someone high up in WWE bought into the hype.


Survivor Series also did the thing all wrestling shows are supposed to do, which is have some really good wrestling. It's incredibly hard not to, what with a collection of the world's best in the Allstate Arena that night. You might be thinking, "this is a WWE event, you know the wrestling is what they do best"; while that's true, I also felt that booking and storytelling didn't get too much in the way of the wrestling this time, which was a real fear over the past few weeks of build-up (and even the past few months). 

The most interesting thing the show accomplished, though, is the fact that I personally forgot there were no real stakes involved in the games. I once predicted a while back that you keep doing this long enough, even if it's just for bragging rights, and it'll turn into a tradition whether it makes sense or not. It seems like that's pretty much what happened here, and the addition of NXT, how they've invaded and wreaked havoc across all shows reinforced it.

Now the bigger picture test moving forward from Survivor Series is seeing whether WWE keeps treating NXT as an equal brand, and not some shiny new toy they're only pimping because everyone really loves it. Well, of course they're going to keep trotting it out as long as they love it, but we've all been burned by the McMahon boredom at some point in the last couple of decades. But winning their first brand warfare is a huge co-sign for NXT, and it should be treated as such for the foreseeable future. These next few years is not the time to fail their most beloved brand today.

Survivor Series 2019 Final Grade: A-

Match of the Night


It's certainly not the best match in the entire card, but it's the one I liked the most. It's not NXT Takeover levels of banging, but Roderick Strong tossing people around, especially people bigger than him, is really entertaining. If you want a better MOTN contender, though, I'd point you toward the NXT Championship match.

Other observations

  • The Cruiserweight Championship returns to PPV with a completely random brand warfare triple threat between Lio Rush, Kalisto, and Akira Tozawa. I guess the show, despite being solid, isn't immune to last-minute decisions that could have been hyped more. (Also, apparently you still qualify for the cruiserweight title even if you're not in the NXT cruiserweight division anymore. Got it.)
  • I wish a bigger deal was made about the final Team NXT lineups for both Survivor Series matches—instead we got Shawn Michaels nonchalantly announcing the teams at the kickoff, which not everyone might have seen. Felt like that could have been prime post-Takeover content that Triple H should have announced.
  • Because you're going to need to explain exactly how NXT ended up with Rhea Ripley captaining the women's team but fielding her WarGames opponents Io Shirai and Bianca Belair, and also picking up Toni Storm randomly from UK.
  • Speaking of Team NXT, I really wish they did a lot more with Kevin Owens, especially after being the fourth man for Team Ciampa at WarGames. After this week's RAW it's clear they've still got big plans for him, but also after seeing how WALTER get treated as the most expendable asset in a team with Damian Priest on it, Owens should've been that first elimination for real. Seeing Owens be in the middle of a bidding war between RAW and NXT would've been far more compelling to try, I feel.
  • I still don't like the idea of having an NXT Championship match outside of a Takeover, mostly because I feel this is them trying out the idea of sneaking in NXT matches in "main roster" (have to say that with quotes now) PPVs. Also, Adam Cole was such a figurehead of the NXT invasion that to see him not engage in brand warfare was a little jarring.
  • Daniel Bryan vs. the Fiend was such a good match despite the red lighting that it's a shame I know some people will pass because of it. I hope this isn't the end of the feud (although I thought Miz was going to be involved in the finish—I suppose there's still time for that).
  • At this point, if we're going to keep Lesnar around as WWE Champion he should only exclusively be facing smaller dudes. (And maybe Cain one more time.)
  • Also, I'd be lying if I didn't say the Dominick (Mysterio) 619 was a cool moment.
  • So, the other elephant in the room: the women's title triple threat didn't get a lot of love simply because it came on after a good Survivor Series match. As much as Becky Lynch, Shayna Baszler, and even heel Bayley are awesome, the men's Survivor Series story just got a better buildup over the past month. They tried, but it was merely an attempt.
  • Are they slowly teasing a Becky Lynch heel turn?
Photo from WWE


*****

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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