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Survivor Series 2021: Results, analysis and full recap

Roman Reigns hasn't lost a PPV match since December 2019. Wow.

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Daniel Van Boom

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WWE

Survivor Series is over. It was weird. It's arguably weird every year.

It's allegedly a show for brand bragging rights, even though the show that "wins" Survivor Series literally never brings it up. Highlighting how thin the veil of "brand supremacy" is, the announcers didn't even bother to tell us whether Raw or SmackDown won more matches at Survivor Series 2021. It was Raw, by the way.

The main event of Survivor Series saw Roman Reigns defeat Big E in a match worth going out of your way to see. Big E showed great fire in his role as main-event babyface, although that was undercut by the fact that he got beat clean in the middle by Reigns. Alas, even though his presence was teased, we didn't get to see The Rock at Survivor Series, so the rumored Rock versus Reigns WrestleMania feud remains a just a rumor.

Other highlights include Becky Lynch defeating Charlotte Flair in the opening bout, and Team Raw besting SmackDown in both the men's and women's Survivor Series eliminator matches. In a change from tradition, this is it for WWE pay-per-views for the year. Instead of a December TLC show, we get a pay-per-view called Day 1 on Jan. 1.

Roman Reigns defeats Big E

By Daniel Van Boom

This was a good Roman Reigns main event, but not one of his best. You may remember Reigns' match with Edge at Money in the Bank. This bout had a similar problem to that one, which is the first 7-10 minutes were slow and felt superfluous. Normally that's fine but, as noted earlier, the crowd is quieter than usual tonight, so the match didn't have the usual electric atmosphere of a Reigns main event.

That said, as his matches always do, this did pick up. About 15 minutes in, Big E dodged a Superman Punch but was then caught by a Rock Bottom, which got a "Rocky" chant from the crowd. Reigns then blitzed Big E with three Superman Punches and set up for the Spear, only for Big E to Hulk Up and cut him off.

Big E threw Reigns onto the apron, and cut him down with a Spear to the outisde. Big E chucked Reigns back into the ring, where Reigns hit a massive Spear for a sick near fall. Big E kicked out, which got huge duelling chants for Big E and Roman. 

After a first failed attempt, Reigns managed to lock Reigns into the guillotine choke. In a great counter, Big E powered Reigns up out of the guillotine and onto his shoulders to land a Big Ending. Reigns grabbed the rope to break up the pin, which got a "this is awesome!" chant. 

The two battle on the outside, with Big E slamming Reigns onto the announcer's table. Reigns reversed Big E's irish whip, sending Big E into the steel steps. Reigns hit a huge Superman Punch off the steps, then tossed Big E into the ring. Big E attempted a Big Ending, but Reigns slipped out, kicked Big E's knee and scored a Spear for the win.

Rating: 4 stars. Great match. The downside is that Big E, who only recently made the jump from mid card babyface to world champion, was beaten decisively by the heel Reigns. It's not good for Big E's credibility, but it's to be expected since Reigns is obviously WWE's bigger investment. 

Sadly, no Rock after the match. WWE is building to Reigns' rematch with Brock Lesnar, so it makes sense to not lessen Lesnar's value by overshadowing him by teasing a Rock-Reigns match, if that is indeed on the cards.

Bianca Belair is Team Raw's sole survivor

By Daniel Van Boom

The women's Raw versus SmackDown Survivor Series match featured on one side Bianca Belair, Rhea Ripley, Liv Morgan, Carmella and Queen Zelina (Team Raw) and on the other Sasha Banks, Shayna Baszler, Shotzi Blackheart, Natalya and Toni Storm (Team SmackDown).

The first elimination came quick: Too concerned with her looks and hair, Carmella was rolled up and pinned by Toni Storm.

With Natalya and Liv Morgan in the ring, the crowd kind of died. It's been a surprisingly subdued crowd all night long, considering how spirited New York crowds usually are, but they're conspicuously quiet for this match. They did perk up for stars like Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair, but even good action between the likes of Rhea Ripley and Shayna Baszler got a muted reaction.

There was a moment around here where Shotzi pulled Sasha Banks off the apron, slamming her face into the ring -- which the announcers simply said was "team mates not getting on" before ignoring it completely. Really weird. 

Ripley put Baszler in position for a Riptide, but Shotzi broke it up. They then did the sequence where each woman came in and did a move, only to be taken out by the next woman. With everyone out, Banks tagged herself in. On the other side, Bianca rose up and got a tag of her own. Now the crowd came alive, with duelling "Let's go Sasha/E-S-T" chants. 

They had a great sequence, reminiscent of their outstanding WrestleMania match, but it didn't last long. Bianca tagged in Zelina for some teamwork offense. As Banks and Zelina found themselves in the SmackDown corner, Toni Storm tagged herself in and pinned Zelina after hitting her Storm One DDT. 

Liv Morgan came in next for Team Raw and had an awkward as hell exchange with Storm -- very sloppy, as most of what they did looked mistimed -- and pinned Toni Storm after landing an Oblivion

Baszler got the Karifuda Clutch on Morgan, but Morgan countered by backing Baszler into the corner -- the SmackDown corner. Shotzi tagged herself in and landed a top-rope splash on Morgan, which is then followed by a Frog Splash from Banks. Banks pinned Morgan for the elimination.

It's now 2-4, with Raw consisting of just Ripley and Belair. Ripley rallies against Banks, but is overwhelmed by Team SmackDown. She ate a Backcracker from Banks, a reverse DDT from Shotzi and then a big knee for Bazler. Baszler then pinned Ripley, so it's Bianca against a SmackDown team of four.

Team SmackDown promptly implodes, as Banks and Shotzi have an argument over who's the legal woman. They end up shouting at each other on the outside, and Banks pushes Shotzi into Baszler. Banks tried to get back into the ring multiple times, but was pulled out by Baszler, then Shotzi and then, for some reason, Natalya. Banks is counted out. Bianca then manages to eliminate Natalya with a cradle.

Baszler surprised Belair with a Karifuda Clutch, but Belair reverses it into a move that looked like Beth Phoenix's Glam Slam, and then Belair pinned Shayna Baszler. After a few minutes, Belair lands a Kiss of Death on Shotzi to win for Team Raw.

Rating: 2.5 stars. This just didn't click. A lot of it was sloppy -- Belair, Banks, Baszler and Ripley were reliably smooth, but the rest often looked awkward -- and the crowd was not into most of it. The whole "SmackDown implodes" story was contrived and felt forced, which took away from the drama of Belair winning against supposedly insurmountable odds. 

The whole exchange between Belair and Banks in the middle of the match was stellar, though.

Team RK-Bro beat The Usos

By Daniel Van Boom

In a confrontation between Raw and SmackDown Tag Team Champions, the red brand's Team RK-Bro defeated The Usos. It was a fine match with a spectacular finish: Jimmy Uso attempted a top-rope splash on Riddle, only to be caught by an RKO in midair. 

Much of the bout was standard tag team fare. The Usos worked over Riddle, who made several pained attempts to tag in Orton. The tag eventually came, and Orton ran wild, only to tag Riddle back in. He hit a fun flurry of Muai Thai kicks and sentons, but then the Usos were back ontop.

There was a nice false finish where the Usos clocked Randy Orton with a double superkick and then, when he was on his knees, knocked out Riddle with a superkick on either side of Riddle's head. It looked like The Usos would win, but Riddle bridged out. 

Orton was able to surreptitiously tag himself in, but quickly ate a superkick. As Jimmy, unaware of the tag, tried to beat Riddle with a top-rope splash, Orton flew in with a surprise RKO for the win.

Rating: 3 stars. A good match.

Omos won a 25-man battle royale

By Daniel Van Boom

To celebrate the 25th anniverary of The Rock's debut, we get a 25-man battle royale match. There are also a lot of Pizza Hut boxes on the outside of the ring and by the rampway, so I guess this doubles as a promotion for Pizza Hut too.The only entrances we see are for Sami Zain, AJ Styles and Omos, Ricochet and The Street Profits. 

There was nothing to this. Omos eliminated everyone (not literally everyone -- but he did get 12 eliminations, which is half the field). None of it was presented as being important. The last two people in the match were Omos and Ricochet. The crowd briefly got behind Ricochet, but Omos threw him out almost immediately.

After the match, The Street Profits threw pizza slices out to the crowd as the announcers thanked Pizza Hut. Cool.

Rating: 2 stars. 

Seth Rollins wins Survivor Series match for Team Raw

By Daniel Van Boom

This match pit Seth Rollins, Finn Balor, Ausitn Theory, Kevin Owens and Lashley (Team Raw) against Drew McIntyre, Happy Corbin, Jeff Hardy, Xaiver Woods and Sheamus (Team SmackDown). Seth Rollins ended up the winner, beating SmackDown's Jeff Hardy to snag the victory for Raw. 

It began with Kevin Owens arguing with Team Raw about who's starting. Eventually, captain Rollins relented and let Owens start. Owens got fired up to fight with SmackDown's Xavier Woods -- and then bailed outside and walked up the ramp to purposefully get himself counted out. Nice heel move. Right off the bat, it's 5-4. 

The numbers were evened up about five minutes later, when Raw's Finn Balor pinned and eliminated SmackDown's Happy Corbin. As Team Raw took turns working over SmackDown's Jeff Hardy, Lashley took out Drew McIntyre on the outside by putting McIntyre on his shoulders and slamming his head into the turnbuckle. 

Lashley's roll continued when, after Hardy managed to tag in Woods, Lashley tagged himself in, Speared Woods and tapped him out to the Hurt Lock. So much for King of the Ring. Team SmackDown then all jumped on Bobby Lashley, but Balor and Rollins came to make the save, hitting stereo Sling Blades on Hardy and Sheamus, which was fun.

McIntyre tagged himself in, leading to a Lashley-McIntyre showdown. It was a great few minutes, with the men hitting big impact moves on each other and spilling to the outside. Lashley tried to ram McIntyre's head into the turnbuckle again, but McIntyre countered. As the two were fighting though, both McIntyre and Lashley got counted out and eliminated. McIntyre clocked Lashley with a Claymore on the way out. Rollins taunted McIntyre and ate a Glasgow Kiss for his troubles before McIntyre walked himself out.

After the dust cleared, Sheamus and Finn Balor traded moves in the ring, culminating in Sheamus eliminating Raw's Finn Balor with a Brogue Kick. It's now 2 on 2, Sheamus and Jeff Hardy for SmackDown against Austin Theory and Rollins for Raw. 

Sheamus and Hardy worked together well, both hitting Sheamus' 10 clubbing blows on the apron, which the crowd loved. But Sheamus was eliminated after Rollins knocked out Hardy on the outside and Sheamus, going for a tag but finding no partner, was rolled up by Theory. Sheamus struck down Theory on his way out -- and also hit Hardy with a clothesline for apparently not being a good partner.

The final three men were Hardy, fighting for Team SmackDown, against Theory and Rollins. After Sheamus laid out Hardy, Rollins immediately went for a Frog Splash, getting a two count. The crowd came alive for Hardy, cheering him on. Those cheers got much louder when Hardy eliminated Theory after a Swanton Bomb, making it Rollins versus Hardy.

Seth Rollins attempted a Curb Stomp but Hardy countered and landed a Twist of Fate. As he scaled the ropes, the crowd went wild, hoping for a Hardy win. He attempted a Swanton Bomb, but Seth Rollins got his knees up and won the match for Team Raw with a Curb Stomp.

Rating: 3.75 stars. A lot of great action is this match, though I'm not quite sure what it achieved. It all depends on where WWE is going. I'm assuming McIntyre will soon challenge for Reigns' Universal Championship, so having him get counted out with no eliminations was strange. The biggest badass of the match was Bobby Lashley, but he's not scheduled for a title match -- Rollins is. Rollins was the sole survivor though, so at least that makes sense. 

The big babyface of the match was Jeff Hardy, though Hardy is not moving as well as he once did -- he was noticeably slower than most others in the match. Plus, Team SmackDown didn't look very strong after losing the match despite Raw effectively only having 4 people on its team following Owens' walkout.

Becky Lynch pins Charlotte Flair

By Daniel Van Boom

Arguably the night's most anticipated match opened the show as Becky Lynch defeated Charlotte Flair in a clash between Raw and SmackDown women's champions. Lynch scored the W by outsmarting Flair, rolling her up and holding onto the ropes to steal a win.

The story going into the match was that Lynch and Flair, who were known to be best friends some years ago, now have real-life heat with each other backstage -- Lynch did interviews with the likes of Sports Illustrated saying as much. The bout started with appropriate fire, with the two scrambling and landing snug-looking strikes on each other.

They wreslted inside the ring, and brawled outside. Pat McAfree claimed that documentaries would be made on this match, which is a bit of a stretch. 

After Becky landed a top-rope leg drop for a two count, the crowd gave a polite "This is awesome!" chant. Charlotte used a few of her fiancé Andrade El Idolo's moves, including a top-rope moonsault into a standing moonsault, and a big-boot fake into a back elblow. 

The first proper false finish came when Lynch hit a Man-Handle Slam, her Rock Bottom-esque finishing move, but Charlotte was able to get her foot on the ropes. Lynch then locked Flair into a "Figure Four" (I put it in quotes because she didn't lock it in properly, as Corey Graves pointed out), but Charlotte fired up and the two got into a slap-fight while in the Figure Four, which got a bigger "This is awesome!" chant from the Barcley's crowd. 

Charlotte paid Lynch back for the Figure Four, as after hitting a big moonsault on the outside Flair rolled Lynch in the ring and locked in the Disarmer Armbar onto Lynch, who quickly got to the ropes. 

The finish came soon thereafter when Flair rolled up Lynch and tried to steal a pin by holding onto the ropes. The ref saw her and stopped counting, allowing Lynch to reverse the rollup into one of her own. At the last moment, out of the ref's line of sight, Lynch grabbed the rope to secure the three count.

Rating: 3.75 stars. This was good, but too long. It had a fantastic start and a nice ending, but the middle bit dragged. Not because the action wasn't good, as these two work well together. The story is that they were really going to scrap, and it did feel like a fight between tense enemies at the beginning and end, but more of a formulaic wrestling match in the middle. Solid, but still formulaic. 

That said, the ending where Lynch outsmarted Flair by cheating better than her was good storytelling. It felt like something her character really would do, and Lynch played it up great afterwards. 

Kickoff Show results

By Daniel Van Boom

I was surprised this match was on the Kickoff Show, until I saw the finish. Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura defeated United States Champion Damian Priest by disqualification when Priest hit Nakamura with a guitar. 

After about 9 minutes of action, Prist took Nakamura sidekick Rick Boogs' guitar, smashed it and hit Boogs with the destroyed guitar -- then clobbered Nakamura with it on the outside. 

Also of note on the Kickoff Show: Vince McMahon is here. Angle alert.