|Toyota Center - 11.19.17|
Well, just like the 2016 Survivor Series, this was a very good PPV that had a mindnumbingly stupid main event. The problem is, unlike 2016's main event which only took up 90 seconds of my time, this one took 33 minutes. Brock Lesnar went from the worst match of the night in 2016 to the best match in 2017, while the men's elimination match took the opposite path.
The show opened, smartly, with the six-man tag between two very over squads, The Shield and The New Day. The crowd was into this and loved both teams (except Roman who got a smattering of "you still suck" chants). Both trios worked hard and aside from a couple miscues (which seemed oddly prevalent on this show), threw together a very enjoyable 21-minute match which loads of false finishes and an actual ending that was a callback to an earlier spot - after being thwarted earlier in the match, The Shield put it away with their signature triple powerbomb, but delivered it from the second rope. If anything this match could've been maybe three minutes shorter, and it wasn't at the same level of the Shield's amazing 2014 matches with The Wyatts and Evolution. But it was a hot opener with a big-fight feel and established The New Day as very worthy opponents for the dominant Shield.
|If you didn't pick these guys to win, I dunno what to tell ya.|
The women's elimination match was next, after a baffling backstage pep talk from Stephanie McMahon to her RAW team that once again made the actual women wrestlers look subservient to the boss's daughter. I don't want to see McMahons on my TV screen anymore. I'm sick to goddamn death of this family. Anyway, the match itself got over 18 minutes and didn't feel like a sprint, but still felt a bit rushed. Too many eliminations were too sudden, like Becky Lynch's unceremonious exit two minutes in (This was of course before they knew what they had with Becky). From there we got a battle of the bulls, as Nia Jax and Tamina faced off. Tamina won this round by repeatedly attacking Nia outside the ring and hitting her dad's Superfly splash on the floor, getting Nia counted out. Bayley also fell to Tamina's splash, while Alicia Fox was the victim of a horrendous fast count by the ref. Naomi had rolled her up and she was clearly supposed to kick out before being locked in a submission hold, but the referee counted 1...2-3 and basically pushed her out of the ring. Not sure who screwed up, but someone did. It all boiled down to Nattie and Tamina vs. Asuka, allowing the Empress of Tomorrow to fully demonstrate her dominance by eliminating both opponents clean. Not a great match but a good one that accomplished what it needed to. Asuka was set up for a several-month run of dominance that included winning the first-ever Women's Royal Rumble. Sadly Vince ruined her starting with her WrestleMania 34 loss to Charlotte, and she's become just one of the girls.
|Asuka's main roster push looked so promising until Creative started doing what they do.|
The show picked up again with The Bar vs. The Usos, who had a furiously paced 16-minute match with a callback from 2016's 10-on-10 elimination match. There were numerous false finishes and a great spot at the end where Jimmy (or Jey, I still can't tell them apart) dove for a tag while also jumping over the top rope onto Cesaro, while the other Uso hit the top rope splash on Sheamus for the pin. This was a fine tag match and both teams looked great.
Charlotte vs. Alexa Bliss was next, and they had a surprisingly long, dramatic match where Bliss dominated most of the action. Alexa's character stuff was strong as always, and she worked Charlotte's ribs for much of the bout before Charlotte mounted a comeback. The main roster women's division still haven't equaled some of their work in NXT, but this match felt like much more than a buffer match and the crowd was pretty well into it. Charlotte hit her big boot (though there was some clear light shown) and locked in the Figure 8 for the tapout. Solid work here.
The semi-main event slot went to Brock Lesnar vs. AJ Styles, and since the match score was 3-2 in favor of Smackdown it was quite obvious who was winning here. This was smart placement though, since there was little doubt anyway that Brock would beat AJ. Brock basically killed AJ for the first six minutes or so, making me dread another short Brock squash, but AJ finally fought back and actually hit most of his signature moves. Brock arguably allowed more offense here than in any singles match he'd had since his Taker feud in 2015. AJ got dominated early but controlled most of the second half, lasting 15+ minutes against the unbeatable RAW champ. Some of the spots were very predictable but this was easily Brock's best singles match in two years, and AJ was presented as being in Brock's league. Fantastic bout.
|AJ is about to steal the show once again.....|
Now for the main event. What. The fuck. Was this?? This match started out awesome, with numerous fun exchanges between Finn and Nakamura, Triple H and Nakamura, Triple H and Bobby Roode, etc. Then after the first 11 minutes or so it became very clear who and what this match and story were built around. Nakamura was the first one eliminated, followed quickly by Bobby Roode. Samoa Joe was next. Then John Cena, then Finn Balor. All four former NXT Champions were among the first five eliminations, and four of the last five guys in the match debuted during the Ruthless Aggression Era or earlier. And then after Orton was eliminated (to be fair, Braun Strowman got to pin three dudes), it came down to Angle, Triple H and Braun against Shane McMahon. For fuck's sake. Of course Shane got to outlast his entire team of WRESTLERS. Angle had an exhausted Shane beaten and then Triple H suddenly hit Angle with a Pedigree and put Shane on top of him, just so he could be the guy to pin Shane thirty seconds later. Braun then got pissed and beat the shit out of Hunter after the match. Aside from Strowman, all the newer guys looked way less important than Episode 768 of The McMahon Soap Opera. Seriously, get this stupid fucking family off my television. This match was excellent for the first third, competent for the middle third, and drove into a ravine in the third act. Absolute drivel, and such a disappointingly stupid way to end what was an otherwise quite enjoyable show. The McMahon family were once again the worst part of the product.
|Man, how awesome is this? Wait, it's all gonna go to shit in ten minutes??|
|"Stephanie said I could win the match!"|
Best Match: Brock Lesnar vs. AJ Styles - AJ does it again.
Worst Match: Team Angle vs. Team Shane, ruined entirely by stupid, nonsensical, counterproductive booking
What I'd Change: How 'bout the main event comes down to Braun, Joe and Balor vs. Nakamura, Roode and Orton or something? Ya know, so the entire former NXT contingent doesn't look like a buncha shmucks? No one gives a shit about the latest McMahon sibling rivalry. Assholes.
Most Disappointing Match: The main event, obviously
Most Pleasant Surprise: How strong AJ came off.
Overall Rating: 7.5/10 - Had the men's elimination match not been booked by dipshits, this show would be an easy 9/10.
Better than WrestleMania, SummerSlam or the Royal Rumble? - I would say probably not, definitely not, and definitely not
Thanks for reading - join us on Twitter, MeWe, Facebook and YouTube!