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Points by Ben Simmons during Game 3 victory over Nets

Heel Turns: Perfection at Survivor Series

Posted by Achilles Heel On November 27

Achilles HeelWith today’s “smart” crowd, it’s difficult to shock the audience. But WWE certainly shocked the WWE Universe with the outcome of the main event at Survivor Series.

It was widely expected that Brock Lesnar would defeat Goldberg, who was wrestling his first match in WWE in 12 years. Of course, it was also widely expected that Goldberg was one-and-done.

Instead, given the enthusiastic reception for Goldberg’s return, WWE and Goldberg agreed to an extended engagement. Even that news, however, couldn’t have prepared fans for what happened at Survivor Series.

After Lesnar carried Goldberg into the corner and tried to intimidate him, Goldberg shoved him to the mat. Lesnar seemed bemused by this turn of events, but he wasn’t laughing after Goldberg caught him with a spear as he got to his feet. With Michael Cole selling that Lesnar was hurt, Goldberg hit a second spear and then a jackhammer for the shockingly quick victory. (The Greek God of Wrestling predicted a relatively short main event, but not that short!)

Lesnar has never been dominated like that in WWE. He has done that to other people, including John Cena and Randy Orton, but it’s never been done to Lesnar.

You can bet that “The Beast” is salivating to get his hands on Goldberg again. And the fans want to see it, which is exactly the point of the shocking outcome of the Survivor Series match.

Goldberg has already entered the Royal Rumble. Expect Lesnar to enter the Rumble as well. An early prediction from Achilles Heel is that Lesnar throws out a multitude of wrestlers before Goldberg enters. It’s possible that Goldberg throws out Lesnar again, but then Lesnar will prevent Goldberg from winning the match and earning the automatic title shot at WrestleMania.

Although the Royal Rumble is two months away, the anticipation is already building. And that’s why the shocking ending to the main event at Survivor Series was the perfect ending.

*****

SURVIVOR PERFECTION: The best match at Survivor Series, as the Greek God of Wrestling told you it would be, was the Raw vs. Smackdown men’s 5-on-5 traditional Survivor Series elimination match. I’m going to save the rest of Survivor Series for a separate item in Heel Turns because this match deserves its own place in the spotlight.

This match was nearly perfect. It lasted nearly an hour, yet it never seemed to drag. One reason the match was so intriguing is that everyone had a purpose for being in the match. Everyone had a role, and they all played their roles to perfection.

  • Braun Strowman played the role of the monster. He pinned Smackdown’s Dean Ambrose – after Ambrose was hit by teammate A.J. Styles. Strowman continued to clean house, including breaking the spell of Bray Wyatt by hitting him with a clothesline.
  • Although Ambrose was eliminated first, he played an important role in this match. After squaring off with Seth Rollins, his former Shield teammate, early in the match, he returns to get revenge on Styles, joining Rollins and Roman Reigns in a mini-reunion of the Shield as they powerbombed Styles through a broadcast table.
  • Kevin Owens played an important role. He started the match against Styles in a symbolic Raw champion vs. Smackdown champion showdown. Owens provided entertainment and action until being disqualified for hitting Styles with Chris Jericho’s list, which was then scattered all over the ring.
  • Jericho provided his customary excellent performance. He was also distraught about his list being scattered all over the ring. He collected the list, but that left him vulnerable to an RKO from Randy Orton, who pinned him for the elimination.
  • Shane McMahon’s role, besides trying to keep peace between Smackdown’s Ambrose and Styles, was to provide high-flying highlights. He dropped an elbow from the top turnbuckle to Strowman, who was prone on a broadcast table. Later in the match, he was on the receiving end of a hellacious spear by Reigns as he attempted a “coast-to-coast” dropkick.
  • Reigns was involved in the Shield spots and, of course, the spear on McMahon. He also was the last remaining member of the RAW team, which also means he gets blamed for the defeat.
  • Even James Ellsworth, the Smackdown team’s “mascot,” played a role. When an angry Strowman tried to get back in the ring, Ellsworth, reaching out from under the ring, grabbed the big man’s boots, causing him to be counted out. Strowman then took out his frustrations on Ellsworth, tossing him about 15 feet off the ramp and through a table.
  • Styles and Rollins provided outstanding wrestling and were involved in angles throughout the match. Rollins was involved in the Shield angles. Styles continued his feud with Ambrose while they were teammates.
  • Orton hit three tremendous RKOs. First, he hit a running RKO on Strowman outside the ring, bouncing his head off the broadcast table. His second RKO was on Jericho, leading to his elimination. Orton’s third RKO was a thing of beauty, catching Rollins as he jumped off the top turnbuckle to deliver a frog splash on a prone Bray Wyatt. At the end of the match, Orton pushed Wyatt out of the way of a Reigns spear, sacrificing himself to protect Wyatt.
  • Wyatt delivered Sister Abigail on Reigns for the final elimination. Although his attempt to control Strowman failed, Luke Harper’s distraction near the end of the match and Orton’s loyalty demonstrated the power of the reconfigured Wyatt family.

The Toronto crowd was on its feet for long portion of this match. There were multiple “This is awesome!” chants throughout the match.

When people make their match-of-the-year lists, this Raw vs. Smackdown elimination match should receive strong consideration.

*****

ORTON’S SAVE: Randy Orton received a lot of praise for going to Shane McMahon’s wife and son at ringside and letting them know that Shane was OK after being crushed by Reigns’ spear on his “coast-to-coast” dropkick attempt (video).

But the Greek God of Wrestling noticed another important move by Orton during that sequence. When he realized that McMahon was hurt, Orton threw Reigns, who also appeared a bit shaken up, outside the ring. By taking the action outside the ring, Orton allowed the doctors and paramedics time to take care of McMahon. This was a relatively unnoticed veteran move by Orton, who is one of the smoothest workers in the business.

*****

SURVIVOR REVIEW: The Greek God of Wrestling has spent a lot of time on the top two matches at Survivor Series, so I’ll quickly recap the rest of what was a tremendous show.

The other two traditional Survivor Series elimination matches were both very good. Unlike the 5-on-5 men’s elimination match, not everyone seemed to have a purpose in the match, but that’s a high standard to achieve. The Raw team won the women’s match, with Charlotte attacking teammate Bayley after she got the winning pin. The mismatched team of Cesaro and Sheamus were the lone survivors as Raw won the tag team elimination match.

Neither title changed hands. The Miz retained the Intercontinental Championship when, with Sami Zayn having Miz in a Figure Four, Maryse rang the bell. Thinking he won, Zayn released the hold, allowing Miz to win with a rollup from behind and a hand full of trunks.

Brian Kendrick retained the Cruiserweight Championship – keeping the Cruiserweight division on Raw – when Baron Corbin interfered, attacking Kendrick quickly before focusing his attention on Kalisto. This is good storytelling. Kalisto cost Corbin his spot on the Smackdown men’s team, so Corbin got his revenge. It also reinforces Corbin’s image as someone who only cares about himself – he cost Smackdown a change to get the cruiserweight division.

*****

FINAL BATTLE: Achilles Heel isn’t certain he’ll have another edition of Heel Turns – this week’s column is like a double-issue – before Ring of Honor’s “Final Battle” Friday in the Manhattan Center’s Hammerstein Ballroom, so I’ll run down what appears to be a superb card here.

In the main event, Adam Cole defends the Ring of Honor World Championship against Kyle O’Reilly. But the main event might not be the most anticipated match. That might be the Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson) defending the Ring of Honor World Tag Team Championship against Mark and Jay Briscoe. Another highly anticipated match is Cody Rhodes vs. former Ring of Honor World champion Jay Lethal.

There is also a lot of interest in the Ring of Honor Television Championship match, with Marty Scurll, who won the title from Will Ospreay in London last Sunday, defending the title against Ospreay, Bobby Fish (who lost the title to Ospreay several days before Scurll won it) and Dragon Lee. In other matches, Jushin Thunder Liger squares off with Silas Young, Colt Cabana battles Dalton Castle, there is the finals of the Ring of Honor Six-Man Tag Team Championship Tournament, and the Motor City Machine Guns (Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin) team up with Donovan Dijak to face Rhett Titus, Caprice Coleman and Kenny King.

*****

RING OF HONOR IN PHILLY: The fallout from Ring of Honor’s Final Battle will be evident Sunday (6 p.m.) at the Ring of Honor “Final Battle Aftermath” television tapings at 2300 Arena. These tapings will kick off the Decade of Excellence Tournament, featuring wrestlers who were in Ring of Honor at least a decade earlier. The winner of the tournament, which will conclude Jan. 14 in Atlanta, will receive a shot at the Ring of Honor World Championship at the 15th anniversary show in Las Vegas on March 10. First-round matches are Christopher Danels vs. Mark Briscoe; Alex Shelley vs. Colt Cabana; Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Jay Lethal; and B.J. Whitmer vs. Jay Briscoe.

*****

NEW CHAMPS IN NXT: Two titles changed hands at NXT Takeover: Toronto the night before Survivor Series. In the main event, Samoa Joe regained the NXT Championship from Shinsuke Nakamura, the man who defeated him for the title. As expected, it was an extremely physical match. Nakamura will receive an opportunity to take the title back Saturday in Osaka, Japan.

Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa captured the NXT Tag Team Championship from The Revival (Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder) during an excellent 2-out-of-3-falls match. But Mickie James was unable to wrest the NXT Women’s Championship from Asuka. In other matches, the Authors of Pain (Akam And Rezar) defeated TM-61 (Shane Thorne and Nick Miller) in the finals of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, and Bobby Roode beat Tye Dillinger in a terrific opening match.

*****

NEED A LITTLE TLC? In the latest example of there not being enough time between special events, WWE will present TLC (Tables, Ladders and Chairs) on Sun., Dec. 4. The main event is a TLC match between A.J. Styles and Dean Ambrose for the WWE World Championship. Styles and Ambrose continued their feud during the Survivor Series men’s elimination match, with each causing the other to be eliminated.

In other title matches at TLC, The Miz will defend the Intercontinental Championship against former champion Dolph Ziggler in a ladder match, and Becky Lynch will defend the Smackdown Women’s Championship against Alexa Bliss. Health Slater and Rhyno will defend the Smackdown Tag Team Championship against the winner of Tuesday’s Smackdown match between American Alpha (Jason Jordan and Chad Gable) and Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt. Could we see interference on the part of NXT’s The Revival in this match?

In other matches, Nikki Bella will battle Carmella in a no-disqualification bout, and Kalisto and Baron Corbin will continue their rivalry in a chairs match.

*****

CHIKARA IN CHI-TOWN: CHIKARA wraps up its year with two shows Saturday in Chicago. “CHIKARA and the Temple of Doom” (2 p.m.) features a mask vs. mask match between Amasis and Frightmare, Drew Gulak vs. Lucas Calhoun, and an inter-gender match between Max Smashmaster and Solo Darling. At “CHIKARA Supremacy” in the evening (7 p.m.), the main event pits Dasher Hatfield’s squad against Grand champion Hallowicked’s squad.

*****

CZW DOUBLEHEADER: Combat Zone Wrestling presents a doubleheader on Sat., Dec. 10 at Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees. At Cage of Death 18 (7:30 p.m.), Jonathan Gresham defends the CZW World Championship against Joe Gacy. Other matches include Sami Callihan vs. Lio Rush; Danny Havoc vs. Rickey Shane Page; A.R. Fox vs. Dave Crist; Greg Excellent vs. Homicide; and a Cage of Death match involving eight competetors, incluidn former CZQ World champion Matt Tremont, Joey Janela and Conor Claxton. Fans are encouraged to bring a donation for Toys for Tots.

Cage of Death 18 is preceded earlier in the day (2 p.m.) at Flyers Skate Zone by Dojo Wars’ Mega Event 3. Admission is $5 or the donation of a toy to benefit Toys for Tots.

*****

CRUISERWEIGHT TUESDAYS: After the success of the Cruiserweight Classic, WWE is launching 205 Live this Tuesday (10 p.m.) on WWE Network. The title refers to the 205-pound weight limit for the cruiserweight division. One potential problem for the show is that it is being presented immediately after Smackdown. Although this provides a nice lead-in to promote the show, the cruiserweight show might seem anti-climactic for the live audience after watching Smackdown.

*****

RAW IN PHILLY: WWE returns to Wells Fargo Center on Dec. 12 for a live Raw broadcast. No, the Greek God of Wrestling isn’t giving out free tickets. Buy your own!

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