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Heel Turns: Survivor Series finishes flat

Posted by Achilles Heel On November 27

Survivor Series wasn’t a bad show, but it didn’t fulfill its promise. And that’s largely due to the main event: the Smackdown vs. Raw traditional Survivor Series 5-on-5 elimination match.

The end of that match didn’t have the tension and drama that it should have had. Maybe it’s unfair for the Greek God of Wrestling to compare this match to the previous year’s Smackdown vs. Raw Survivor Series elimination match, which was one of the best matches of 2016, but there is an important difference that may have led to less drama this year.

What made the 2016 match awesome was that everyone had a purpose in the match. Even James Ellsworth, who was outside the ring, had a purpose in the match. By contrast, not everyone in this year’s match had a purpose, particularly on the Smackdown team.

Achilles Heel was pleased to see Bobby Roode and Shinsuke Nakamura treated as top-level stars by being included on Team Smackdown. Other than that, however, what was their purpose in the match? Even John Cena didn’t have much of a purpose other than his star power. It was cool to see him face off with Kurt Angle, his opponent in his WWE debut, and he teamed with longtime rival Randy Orton to put Braun Strowman through a broadcast table, but there wasn’t much more than that.

Everyone had a purpose on the RAW team. Samoa Joe and Finn Balor were there to feud with each other. Strowman was there to be a monster, and Triple H and Angle were there to batter Shane McMahon while battling over control of Team Raw.

In the end, though, even the Triple H-Angle-Shane angle didn’t generate the expected heat. This may be blasphemy, but perhaps having three men in their late 40s in the final sequence of a long match isn’t what’s best for business. The angle was set up for that finish, but the action didn’t live up to expectations. Where were the big moves and the close pinfalls?

In hindsight, perhaps it would have been better for Triple H to turn on Angle earlier in the match, with perhaps Balor and Nakamura sticking around until the end of the match. When Nakamura and Balor squared off early in the match, you could feel the energy from the crowd. That energy level didn’t seem to be there at the end of the match. Balor and Nakamura certainly could have created and sustained a faster pace late in the match than Triple H, Angle and Shane.

Perhaps I’m being a bit harsh. The main event was a good match. But it could have been – and should have been – better.

*****

BEST IN SHOW: The best match at Survivor Series was WWE Universal champion Brock Lesnar vs. WWE champion AJ Styles, with Lesnar emerging victorious. Nobody should be surprised that the phenomenal Styles was involved in the best match.

The battle of tag team champions, with Smackdown’s Jimmy and Jey Uso defeating Cesaro and Sheamus was also very good, as was The reunited Shield (Dan Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns) beating The New Day (Big E, Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston). The women’s matches, with Smackdown Women’s champion Charlotte defeating Raw Women’s champion Alexa Bliss and the Raw team defeating the Smackdown team in the 5-on-5 traditional Survivor Series elimination match, with Asuka being the lone survivor, were both good. United States champion Baron Corbin beating Intercontinental champion The Miz was fine. The kickoff matches were largely forgettable.

*****

CHIKARA FINALE: CHIKARA’s final event of the year, “Closing Time,” will take place Saturday (3 p.m.) at The Wrestle Factory. In the main event Juan Francisco de Coronado defends the Grand Championship against Dasher Hatfield. Among the other matches, Hallowicked battles “Mr. Touchdown” Mark Angelosetti, and Hype Rockwell squares off with former tag team partner Race Jaxon.

*****

MAXIMUM IMPACT: In the promotion’s marquee feud, Alberto el Patron battles Johnny Impact in a grudge match Thursday on Impact Wrestling. Achilles Heel doubts this will be the last time we see these two meet in the ring.

*****

DUAL INVASIONS: There were invasions of the women’s division on both Raw and Smackdown last week. Paige, who received a huge response from the crowd, interrupted a four-woman match to determine the No. 1 contender for the Raw Women’s Championship held by Alexa Bliss. As Paige said, she didn’t come alone. Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville attacked the Raw women from behind, creating a two-front attack.

A similar invasion took place the following night on Smackdown. NXT’s Ruby Rio, Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan interfered in the Smackdown Women’s Championship match between Charlotte Flair and former champion Natalya.

Having new blood is good for WWE’s women’s divisions. Adding six new wrestlers to the mix should result in new matchups.

The only criticism is for WWE doing similar storylines on Raw and Smackdown, but the Greek God of Wrestling thinks that will eventually be explained. If they don’t connect the storylines, the difference will likely be that Paige is clearly in charge of the Raw invasion, and may use it to achieve her own goals, while the Smackdown invasion consists entirely of NXT upstarts out to prove themselves.

*****

SEEING STARS: WWE resurrected Starcade last Saturday in Greensboro, N.C., which was hosting the event for the first time in 30 years. In the main events, WWE champion AJ Styles defeated former champion Jinder Mahal, and Smackdown Women’s champion Charlotte Flair defeated former champion Natalya. Both matches took place inside a steel cage.

Starcade was filled with guest appearances connected to the Starcade legacy, including Ric Flair, Ricky Steamboat and Arn Anderson, who was the guest referee for the match between Bobby Roode and Dolph Ziggler. The Rock ‘n Roll Express (Robert Gibson and Ricky Morton) and Matt and Jeff Hardy also made appearances. In honor of his father, Dusty Rhodes, Dustin Rhodes wrestled as himself instead of as Golddust.

*****

ROMAN’S REIGN: Roman Reigns captured the Intercontinental Championship from The Miz in Raw’s main event last week. Reigns is likely to have his sites on bigger fish – or beasts – down the road, so don’t be shocked if Miz, who has been a terrific champion, regains the title when he’s done filming “The Marine 6.”

*****

DOUBLE TROUBLE: The angle with Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens is interesting. The idea that most of the Smackdown roster is mad at them for contributing to Smackdown’s loss in the traditional 5-on-5 Survivor Series elimination match is interesting. They were thrust into a lumberjack match last week, picking up a win over the New Day, but taking a beating outside the ring. This week Owens squares off with Randy Orton, who is reportedly upset that the interference by Owens and Zayne late in the match temporarily took out Shane McMahon, leaving Orton to fend for himself against Triple H, Kurt Angle and Braun Strowman before being eliminated.

*****

CAGE OF DEATH: Rickey Shane Page will defend the Combat Zone Wrestling Heavyweight Championship against former champions Shane Strickland and Joe Gacy in main event of Cage of Death 19 on Dec. 9 at Rastelli’s Complex in Sewell, N.J. At Night of Infamy on Nov. 11, Gacy defeated Strickland, only to have Page take the title from him.

In other matches at Cage of Death, MJF (Maxwell Jacob Feinstein) challenges Joey Janela for the CZW Wired Championship, Jimmy Jacob battles Jimmy Havoc, and Ethan Page faces David Starr. NWA champion Tim Storm has been invited by CZW to attend the event.

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