Coming into Survivor Series, the big focus was on The Bloodline and whether or not they would betray Sami Zayn following the return of Kevin Owens. However, the Honorary Uce pledged his loyalty to the group at the expense of his 20-year relationship with the Prizefighter.
Not only did the show conclude with a storytelling masterpiece, but the WarGames stipulation made it’s main roster debut and is set to stay. The two matches bookended Survivor Series and in between, a new United States Champion was crowned and AJ Styles scored his first singles victory at a Premium Live Event in over three years.
Overall, Survivor Series was a worthy watch and served as the platform for multiple rivalries to reach their culmination. The spotlight is now on this week’s Smackdown and the fallout from the main event, before WWE slowly build towards the Royal Rumble that occurs in late January.
The Inner Sanctum will review and provide an in-depth analysis for each match at Survivor Series, giving a score out of five to every contest.
Damage CTRL fall again to Bianca Belair in women’s WarGames match
It was the appropriate setting for Bianca Belair’s three-month feud with Bayley to end, as their respective teams fought inside the destructive and brutal WarGames.
The Raw Women’s Champion and Dakota Kai began the match, with the latter making her fourth appearance inside the steel structure. However, Belair had control for the majority of the first five minutes until IYO SKY made her way into the ring to give her team the advantage.
The E.S.T. had to endure an outnumbered assault from the Women’s Tag Team Champions, but was able to hit a double suplex on SKY and Kai. Her momentum was only temporary when SKY eventually launched from the top rope to land a dropkick.
Asuka then entered the fray and gained control, besting SKY in an exchange of blows. However, Nikki Cross was the next participant and pushed the steel door into Asuka when the Empress approached her.
Cross then attacked Belair with a bin lid and occupied her opponent with a kendo stick, while SKY was taking care of Asuka in the corner. Alexa Bliss entered the match and immediately delivered a dropkick to the Women’s Tag Team Champion.
Cross climbed her way to the top of the structure and launched a crossbody on all the competitors, before Bayley left her cage and grabbed ladders and tables to the delight of the Boston crowd. Damage CTRL then seized their advantage, driving a table into Belair which sent her to collide with the steel.
The Role Model’s team had the momentum, until Mia Yim entered and used a trash can to gain control for her group. However, Cross neutralised the newer contestant with a sleeper hold before there was a flurry of suplexes from the top ropes.
Rhea Ripley joined as the final member for Damage CTRL when everyone was down and quickly asserted her dominance, until WarGames officially commenced with the entry of Becky Lynch.
The Man fended off multiple attacks from her opponents and demanded a fight with Bayley, who she got the better of. Lynch then encountered the Eradicator and was hit with a riptide, before a cover was made that Asuka broke.
The Empress then blew poison mist into the eyes of Ripley and had to prevent another pinfall, when Bayley delivered a rose plant to The Man. Eventually, SKY made her way to the top and landed her signature moonsault on Belair and Yim.
The ending stages of the physical contest saw Cross’ attempt to handcuff Bliss to the ropes backfire, when the latter handcuffed herself to her former tag partner. Meanwhile, Ripley drove Yim through a ladder that was set up in the corner which broke in half.
Belair and Lynch then had a staredown with Damage CTRL in shades of SummerSlam this year, which led to a brawl both parties engaged in. The Man and Raw Women’s Champion bested their rivals and when Belair delivered a K.O.D. to Bayley onto the side of the cage, Lynch hit a leg drop from the top to Kai and SKY who were laid out on a table.
The pin was made and a victory for the E.S.T.’s team was officiated, which was a surprising result.
Damage CTRL needed the win more following Bayley’s consecutive title defeats to Belair, but the match was serviceable and it was a highlight seeing Lynch back in the ring and in good health.
It is unclear which direction the Raw Women’s Champion takes now, but a match with Ripley seems imminent and whether it happens at either the Royal Rumble or WrestleMania remains to be seen.
AJ Styles defeats Finn Balor in much-needed win
The second match of the night saw two former friends-turned bitter rivals collide, as AJ Styles and Finn Balor met in what looks to be the conclusion of their feud.
It was their second ever singles match against each other in WWE and it started with the two feeling one another out, before Styles took control by targeting Balor’s leg. The leader of The Judgment Day was able to absorb the attacks and placed The Phenomenal One into an abdominal stretch, but Styles escaped and connected with strikes.
Balor then broke free from an attempted styles clash and while the former WWE Champion was setting up for a phenomenal forearm, he was taken out by Dominik Mysterio when Damien Priest distracted the referee. It then prompted Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson to intervene, as all men engaged in a brawl that spilled out into the crowd.
They weren’t seen for the rest of the contest between their leaders and both men were down in the ring, after Styles countered a dropkick with a suplex. Balor was then able to avoid a styles clash and calf crusher, before the two delivered Pelé kicks to each other.
After a failed 450 splash, Styles was set up for a coup de grace that looked to end the match. However, the former Universal Champion missed and inflicted more pain on his leg that was worsened by a calf crusher.
Balor escaped the hold after repeatedly driving Styles’ head into the mat and both competitors traded strikes, but the latter was able to gain the upper hand and hit a phenomenal forearm to secure the win.
While the match had a slow pace and never really picked up, seeing AJ Styles score a victory at a Premium Live Event was refreshing and desperately needed. It did seem like the stage for Balor to win and plant the end to this rivalry, but he should not be impacted by this loss and The Judgment Day will still be booked as one of the strongest stables in WWE.
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Ronda Rousey retains in comfortable fashion
It was widely projected that Ronda Rousey would retain her Smackdown Women’s Championship against Shotzi and she did exactly that, with the support of Shayna Baszler.
The challenger delivered immediate strikes to her opponent, but Rousey prevented further attacks with an arm drag and ankle lock. The champion was then caught at ringside and when Shotzi attempted for a suicide dive on Rousey, Baszler took the bullet instead.
Despite not connecting the launch on her opponent, Shotzi drove the Baddest Woman on the Planet into steel steps before the match was reintroduced to the ring. Rousey then countered a dive from the top rope and planted Shotzi in a temporary ankle lock, only for the challenger to hit a step-up enziguri.
She then attempted for a tornado DDT on the apron and while she didn’t hit it with maximum impact, Shotzi threw Rousey and Baszler over the barricade before delivering a crossbody onto the pair as well as some fans in attendance.
The fight was once again brought back to the squared circle, but the champion connected with a Piper’s pit and applied an ankle lock that quickly concluded the contest.
It wasn’t a surprise victory for Rousey, but the match was very sloppy and rather forgettable. It was a representation of the lack of competitors in the Smackdown women’s division, which has been in deep trouble for a long period of time.
With Becky Lynch making her return on Smackdown, she needs to be slotted straight into the show and aid the lackluster pool of superstars. It would also plant the seeds for a potential championship match with Rousey, which could occur at WrestleMania.
Austin Theory wins United States Championship to the shock of Boston
The penultimate match of Survivor Series featured Seth Rollins defending the United States Championship against Bobby Lashley and Austin Theory in a triple threat match.
As soon as the bell rang, Lashley and Rollins both clotheslined Theory over the top rope in separate sequences before the Almighty and Visionary began their battle. Lashley was then angered after receiving chops from the champion, applying a hurt lock to his opponent.
However, Rollins escaped and was later attacked by Theory on the outside. The youngest Mr. Money in the Bank ran away from Lashley, but the Almighty eventually caught both of his opponents to deliver a double DDT.
When Lashley had control, he pinned Rollins and it was broken when Theory dragged the referee away from making the count. The two challengers then had an encounter on the outside, as the Almighty threw the rising star into the timekeepers area and avoided a steel chair assault.
Soon after, Theory had momentum over Rollins in the ring after Lashley was recovering from a steel step attack. The Visionary wheeled himself back into the contest and geared up for a curb stomp, but missed before enduring another hurt lock from the Almighty.
However, Rollins eventually landed a pedigree on Lashley for a two-count. Theory then entered the picture again by delivering a beautiful rolling blockbuster to the Almighty, only to find himself in a hurt lock moments later.
Just like how Brock Lesnar countered Lashley’s submission for a win at Crown Jewel, Theory used the top rope to land on his opponent for a cover. He wasn’t able to secure the victory just yet, as Rollins stopped the pin with a frog splash.
The Almighty then applied a double hurt lock to both of his opponents, but was driven into the corner before everyone was down after an exchange of blows. Rollins after connected with a curb stomp onto Lashley and used Theory as a stepping stone, before attempting a falcon arrow on the latter.
However, it was prevented by a spear from the Almighty and Theory quickly went for the cover on Rollins to win back his United States Championship. The crowd were in disbelief, as the Visionary had lost his title after just securing the gold last month.
It was still an entertaining contest, but the decision to give Theory the championship is very questionable. Rollins has increasingly become a crowd favourite, but a defeat here could signal a potential match against Roman Reigns for the Undisputed Universal Title down the line.
Sami Zayn shows his commitment to The Bloodline in the men’s WarGames match
The main event for Survivor Series saw one of the most highly anticipated matches of the year take place, as The Bloodline collided against five of their biggest rivals inside WarGames: Drew McIntyre, Kevin Owens and The Brawling Brutes.
Like Dakota Kai, it was Butch’s fourth WarGames match and he started off against Jey Uso. The two stood down and tried to bait each other, before the Undisputed Tag Team Champion initiated and was taken down.
The Brawling Brute applied his signature joint manipulation onto Jey, but was thrown into the cage which bought time for the latter to recuperate. Butch’s partner, Ridge Holland was the third contestant of the match and the Brutes made the most out of their advantage.
Jey was still suffering from joint manipulation at the hands of Butch and when it was time for the champion to receive some help, Roman ordered for Sami Zayn to enter instead of Jimmy Uso.
The Honorary Uce hesitated to step in the ring once he left The Bloodline’s cage, but a distraction by Jey allowed for Zayn to start an attack on his opponents. However, the two had a slight altercation almost instantly until Butch caught them both with a moonsault.
Drew McIntyre was the next participant and fended off his opponents, but Jimmy finally entered three minutes later with multiple tables. Jey and Sami had another heated argument about who would take control of the tables, which the former’s brother tried to break up.
Kevin Owens then made his long-awaited appearance in the match and brought steel chairs with him, delivering shots to The Usos. The Prizefighter had a staredown with Zayn and before anything could eventuate, Holland attacked the Honorary Uce.
Owens planted Jimmy through a table, before Sami was suffering from an outnumbered assault. Solo Sikoa then joined the fray, in what was his first Premium Live Event match.
The Street Champion brawled with the Prizefighter and displayed his toughness when he wasn’t phased by being driven into the side of the cage, before Sheamus rounded out his team in the ring. The Celtic Warrior was initially blocked by Zayn to enter the match, but Sheamus slammed the door on Sami to make his way inside.
With two minutes until Reigns would enter, Sheamus launched from the top with a double clothesline on The Usos. However, everyone was down by the time the Tribal Chief stepped into the cage and both teams had a colossal staredown.
The Bloodline’s opponents wasted no time, initiating a brawl and gaining momentum as they all collectively delivered beats of the Bodhran. After Sheamus brogue kicked Sikoa, Reigns hit a spear on the Celtic Warrior and went for a cover that was stopped by Butch.
Jey then dialed up for a superkick on Butch, but accidentally made contact with Zayn when the Brute ducked. This was where the dissension was teased between The Bloodline and Honorary Uce, as Owens and Reigns came face-to-face after the Prizefighter hit a stunner on Sikoa.
The former Universal Champion then delivered a pop-up powerbomb and stunner to the Tribal Chief, but Zayn stepped in to save his leader by grabbing the referee’s arm to prevent a three count. The two best friends locked eye contact and as Jimmy went for a superkick on Owens, the Prizefighter was dealt a low blow by the Honorary Uce.
Zayn seemed to carry severe regret and looked conflicted after his actions, but doubled down with a helluva kick to Owens while Reigns was watching. The Honorary Uce caught his friend in his arms, before placing him down for Jey to deliver a splash and obtain the victory for The Bloodline.
Following the match, Zayn appeared to be in a torn state of mind after betraying his best friend for the people he has become so attached to. However, Reigns acknowledged his Honorary Uce with a hug and Jey finally befriended Sami after months of desperately wanting him removed from The Bloodline.
The quintet stood tall to conclude Survivor Series and The Bloodline’s inevitable betrayal to Zayn has been delayed. It was expected that WWE would pull the trigger at the show, after how Sami lied to Jey about not talking to Owens the night before on Smackdown.
It is the hottest act in the company right now and WWE are cashing in to ensure they make the most out of this compelling story, as the fans become increasingly invested by the week.
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