WWE Survivor Series 2018
by Scrooge McSuck
- The 32nd Annual Survivor Series! From the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA, with the former Enzo Amore apparently having a fit in the crowd and being detained by security early in the show. Michael Cole and Renee Young, and Tom Phillips and Byron Saxton are taking turns calling the action with Corey Graves, who gets to pull double-duty as usual.
Kickoff Match: The Usos, The New Day (w/ Kofi Kingston), Gallows & Anderson, Sanity (w/ Alexander Wolfe), and The Colons vs. Chad Gable & Bobby Roode, The Lucha House Party (w/ Gran Metalik), The Ascension, The Revival, and The B-Team:
I don't know why I'm recapping this, since we were told during the PPV the match didn't matter. No Heath Slater and Rhyno for Raw? I feel bad for them considering the depth chart, but that team should've broken up TWO YEARS AGO when they did the angle on Talking Smack. Epico and Primo haven't had TV time in months, but looking at Epico, they spent a lot of time at the buffet tables. Epico and Kalisto start. What is this, Survivor Series or Main Event? Epico with a delayed suplex for not even a one-count. Kalisto lands bad on his ankle (Woods: SWEEP THE LEG) and tags out to Lince Dorado. Kalisto quickly comes back in, still hurting. Primo with a somersault senton and basement dropkick, followed by a leg sweep. I guess he was listening to Woods. Kalisto knocks Primo into Epico. Dawson gets the blind tag, and the Shatter Machine finishes Primo at 3:11. Looks like Kalisto hurt himself again in the background. Anderson with clotheslines on Dash and a spinebuster to both members of the Revival. Meanwhile, Gran Metalik takes Kalisto's spot on the apron, ticking off Corey Graves. Curtis Axel stomps Anderson in the corner while failing to get a B-Team chant going. Gallows with a roundhouse kick from the apron to Bo Dallas, and Anderson rolls him up for three at 4:59. Gable pounds away on Killian Dane, but a short body-press flattens Gable for two. Tandem Neck-breaker from Sanity gets two. Gable greets Young with an elbow, and a moonsault/rude awakening sends Sanity packing at 6:33. Konnor saves Roode from the Big Ending and bowls over Big E with a shoulder tackle. Big E quickly takes control with the booty-slapping abdominal stretch. Woods walks into a fall-away slam. Viktor grabs a CHIN-LOCK. Crisscross and Woods with a rolling elbow. He lifts Big E on his shoulders and drops him for a splash to finish Viktor at 8:48. Gallows catches Dorado coming off the top rope, but the Magic Killer is countered. Dorado counters a Choke-Slam with a Stunner and takes Anderson out of the ring with a head-scissors. Dorado and Metalik follows with synchronized Asai Moonsaults. Back inside, Metalik finishes Anderson with a senton at 10:40.
Jimmy Uso rocks Metalik with a right hand. Dorado in with chops. Whip to the ropes and Dorado with a school boy for two. Jey gets the blind tag and spikes Dorado on his head with a botched Samoan Drop at 11:58, leaving us the Usos and New Day vs. Roode, Gable, and the Revival. I'm not going to lie, I'm surprised the Revival are still in this. Dawson lays Woods out with a European uppercut. Gable traps the knee, driving it into the canvas. Dawson with a leg drop and snap elbow drop. Woods gets a boot up in the corner and cradles Dawson for two. Both men take turns attacking partners on the apron. Woods with a missile dropkick and the hot tag to Big E. He runs wild on Dash with over-head belly-to-belly suplexes. Gable catches Big E off the ropes with an Exploder Suplex. He hits the rolling German into a neck breaker from Roode for a near fall. Big E counters the Glorious DDT. Woods and Big E with a combination uranage and back stabber for two. Dawson with a tope suicida on Big E and Uso. Woods follows with a wrecking ball dropkick, then Dash plants him with a tornado DDT. Big E with the spear through the ropes on Dash. Roode assists Gable for a somersault plancha onto the pile. Roode teases a spot, but Jey cuts him off with a Super-Kick and does the Glorious pose before hitting a dive over the top rope. Gable and Jimmy fight on the top rope and Gable GERMAN SUPLEXES JIMMY ONTO THE PILE. Back inside, Woods avoids the Gable and Roode double-team spot. Big E catches Gable going for a moonsault and the Midnight Hour (or Up-Up-Down-Down) eliminates Gable and Roode at 18:33. Dawson with a sunset flip on Big E (who at the same time threw Dash with a belly-to-belly suplex). Woods tries the rope-walk elbow drop, but dives into the Shatter Machine for the 1-2-3 at 19:50. The Usos and Revival slug it out. Dawson with a flying bulldog on Jimmy for two. Jimmy with a roundhouse enzuigiri. Dawson interrupts his ascending the ropes and the Revival hit THE POWER PLEX for another near-fall, broken up by Jey. Jey saves Jimmy from the Shatter Machine. Super-Kick Party and a Flying Splash (with Roman Tribute) finishes at 23:16 to make the Usos the Sole Surviving Tag Team. Smackdown wins, but it doesn't matter, because it was on the Kickoff Show. First half of the match was bottom of the barrel, heatless filler, but once we got to the final few teams, it picked up and saved it. ***
Naomi, Asuka, Carmella, Sonya Deville, and Mandy Rose vs. Nia Jax, Tamina, Sasha Banks, Bayley, and Mickie James (w/ Alexa Bliss):
It wasn't until half-way through the Kickoff Show that Team Raw subbed out Natalya and Ruby Riott for Banks and Bayley because REASONS. Rose is a last-minute addition to fill the spot left vacant by Charlotte Flair. To show how little things change from year to year, this is THREE YEARS in a row for Naomi and Carmella on Smackdown, and Jax, Banks, Bayley on Raw. Bliss is out indefinitely for multiple concussions, and Jax is getting go-away heat for injuring Becky on Monday Night Raw. Is Bayley's tights inspired by Sparky Plugg? Tamina (looking like she's seen better days) and Naomi start. Naomi with a quick roll-up and dropkick. Both teams immediately brawl. Naomi with a Disaster Kick to Jax, but then Tamina KO's Naomi with a Super-Kick for three at 1:20. Like last year, the team Captain of Smackdown is eliminated only a few minutes in. Seconds later, Carmella rolls up Tamina to send her packing at 1:32 and we get a DANCE BREAK™. Jax interrupts the fun and blocks a school-boy attempt. Carmella wisely tags out to Mandy Rose... who is immediately flattened. Rose comes back with a knee strike. Mickie unloads with forearms and connects with a hangman's neck breaker for two. Mickie rolls through an abdominal stretch and hooks a modified STF, but Rose gets to the ropes. Cole gushes over the possibility of a one-on-one with Asuka vs. Mickie, having skipped TakeOver: Toronto in November 2016. Spoilers: It was great. Asuka comes off the ropes with a hip attack, then hooks an Octopus Lock. Deville with shoulders to the midsection. Mickie fights out of the corner and takes her over with the spinning head-scissors. Bayley tags herself and hits a sliding clothesline and elbow drop for two. Banks drops the double knees across the chest, and Mickie comes off the top with a Thesz Press for two. Mickie whiffs on the Mick-Kick and Deville hits her with a Spear. Deville with a sliding knee strike, and Mandy tags herself in to steal the fall at 7:37 (and allegedly Mickie's 1st loss at Survivor Series). Carmella plants Bayley with a DDT and mocks Sasha (just like everyone else). Bayley recovers and hits the Bayley-to-Belly for three at 9:11.
Rose comes in to stomp Bayley down as Cole gushes that she might be Smackdown's MVP so far, having done little other than steal someone else's glory. Maybe I should start watching WWE PPV's on mute. Bayley fights out of the corner and tags Sasha. I'd call it a hot tag, but the crowd stopped popping for Banks months ago. Banks avoids the jumping knee and finishes Rose with the Bank Statement at 10:50, depressing Graves. Asuka sends Banks to the corner and charges in with a hip attack for two. Deville hooks a body scissors as Bayley and Bliss sadly can't get the crowd to rally behind THE BOSS. Banks escapes with a snap mare and tags Bayley. She, too, hits a running knee, for a near-fall. Deville with a big strike to the ribs and a spine-buster for two. Jax made the save but posts herself to the crowd's delight. Back inside, Bayley with a back suplex on Deville for two. Deville avoids the Bayley-to-Belly. Bayley with a spear through the ropes, and they brawl to a VINTAGE DOUBLE COUNT-OUT at 15:16. Cole says that never happens, but history proves he's an idiot. Asuka (the crowd favorite) one-ups Banks by shrugging off a dropkick and coming off the ropes with her own. Asuka with a hip toss into a knee, followed by a release German Suplex. Jax comes back to life, only to take a running hip attack. Asuka continues to treat Sasha like a scrub, giving her an occasional hope-spot. Sasha misses the double knees from the apron and gets flattened out with Asuka's spam-move of choice tonight. Back inside, Asuka with a missile dropkick for two. They do a series of counters until Banks stacks Asuka up for a two-count. Drive-Thru Knees into the corner by Banks. She climbs the ropes and gets shoved down by Nia. Asuka takes her over into the Asuka Lock for the tap-out at 19:34. Jax quickly hits Asuka with a series of leg drops and finishes with the Samoan Drop at 20:14, making her the Sole Survivor. I guess that grueling 4-minutes against Banks was TOO MUCH for Asuka. Like the Kickoff, this was crap until we thinned out the ranks, but outside of Asuka and Banks' mini match, it wasn't nearly as good. Oh, and Cole shoots Graves down for saying Smackdown has a win, which is probably a direct line from McMahon if I've ever heard it. **
Seth Rollins (Intercontinental Champion) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (US Champion):
The crowd FINALLY wakes up for Rollins' entrance. Smart money says Dean Ambrose screws Rollins over somehow, but WWE and smart money rarely goes hand in hand. I CANNOT STAND when everyone wrestles with the stupid Raw and Smackdown shirts on (in Rollins' case, his half-and-half shirt). They cautiously feel each other out to start. Nakamura forces Rollins to the ropes and taunts him. Nakamura escapes a wrist-lock with a knee to the midsection. Rollins avoid a roundhouse and rolls him up before giving it back to Shinsuke by using his own taunt against him. Rollins with a snap mare into a crucifix cradle for two. Nakamura avoids the rip-cord knee by hooking the ropes, then takes a breather on the floor. Whip to the corner and Rollins pops out with a clothesline. They do a series of counters, with Rollins knocking Nakamura to the floor. He teases a tope, but Nakamura counters with a well-placed kick to the face and follows with a pair of running knees to the chin. Back inside, Nakamura with BAD Vibrations (Phillips said it, not me!). Snap mare and jumping knee drop for two. The crowd is ABSOLUTELY DEAD. You'd think just doing a match with no storyline would get them pumped. We slow things down further with a front face-lock. Rollins sends Shinsuke face-first into the turnbuckle to "create separation." Rollins unloads with strikes and takes Nakamura down with the sling-blade. Rollins scoops Nakamura off the top turnbuckle and throws him over the top rope, to the floor. Wrong PPV, Seth. He follows with a trio of topes that gets a polite 205 Live reaction. Back inside, Seth with a springboard clothesline for two. Nakamura with a spinning heel kick and a series of kicks to the chest. He hits the running knee to the midsection for two. Rollins blocks the reverse Exploder but Shinsuke audibles with a back stabber. Seth comes right back with a Super-Kick for two. Shinsuke rakes the eyes to avoid a Buckle Bomb. They take turns stomping mud-holes in each other until Nakamura hooks a triangle choke. Rollins fights to his feet, slamming Nakamura into the corner. They trade strikes until Nakamura hits a Michinoku Driver for a near-fall. Rollins with the Super-Plex and Falcon Arrow for two. Nakamura wins a slug-fest and hits the reverse Exploder. Rollins avoids the Kinshasa and hits the rip-cord knee for two. Nakamura rolls away from the Frog Splash and hits the Kinshasa for two. Rollins with a Super-Kick to counter another Kinshasa and finishes with THE STOMP at 21:30. Technically fine match, but Nakamura is the King of Disappointment and the crowd wasn't into it most of the way through. ***
The Authors of Pain (w/ Drake Maverick) vs. The Bar (w/ The Big Show):
Tag Champions vs. Tag Champions, and Heel vs. Heel. You'd think they'd have the wherewithal to NOT put themselves in that situation EVERY YEAR. Whoops, I forgot, it's not AUTHORS OF PAIN, just "AOP" now. It's like Vince McMahon pays zero attention to NXT and changes things as he sees fit. Rezar and Sheamus lockup into the corner while ENZO causes a disturbance in the crowd IN FULL VIEW OF THE HARD CAMERA. The Bar lay out Rezar with a double clothesline once I can focus my attention back to the match. Akam comes in and gets swung by Cesaro until Rezar saves. AOP with the stomp/side-slam combo for two. Cesaro gets worked over in the corner as the crowd continues to be comatose. Cesaro fights out of a chin-lock but Akam takes him down and pummels him. Rezar with a KNEE TO THE FACE for two. It's the new Super-Kick. Sheamus with a distraction but the referee misses the roll-up attempt from Cesaro. AOP continues to dominate by doing very little. Sheamus with the "hot tag", unloading on Rezar with rights. Rezar misses an avalanche and takes a knee to the face. ENOUGH WITH THE KNEES! Sheamus with the clubbing blows across the chest with mild audience participation. Sheamus with a flying clothesline for two. Maverick hops on the apron for a distraction that doesn't work, as Sheamus hits Rezar with the Brogue Kick. Maverick gets involved, putting Rezar's foot on the rope. Cesaro gives chase, sending him into a right hand from Big Show. He goozles Maverick until HE PISSES HIMSELF ON THE APRON. I guess that explains wearing grey sweatpants. AOP quickly go to the finish with a neck breaker/sit-out Powerbomb at 9:03. Roger Ebert would be rolling in his grave over that finish, and yes, I'm aware he's not a wrestling critic. *
WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match:
WWE bothered to bring out Vic Joseph, Nigel McGuinness, and Percy Watson for one match? Chalk one up for another Smackdown loss. Yes, I'm aware this is a non-Brand vs. Brand Match. Murphy defeated Cedric Alexander at the Super Show-Down, for those who lose track of 205 Live. Anyone else surprised this isn't following a more important match in the death-slot? Murphy carries Ali into the corner and drives a series of shoulders into the midsection. Ali's sunset flip is blocked but he quickly rocks Murphy with a forearm. Crisscross and Ali sends Murphy to the floor with a head-scissors. Ali dropkicks him off the apron and follows with a somersault from the top rope. Murphy gets sent into the barricade, but Ali's attempts at going high risk is met with Murphy shoving him off the top rope, backwards into the barricade. Even in slow-motion, that's a rough bump. Murphy slams Ali back and forth between the barricade and LED screen before throwing Ali back into the ring for a two-count. Whip to the corner and Murphy with a back drop for two. Ali counters a back suplex with a body-press for two. Whip to the corner, Ali greets Murphy with a boot to the face and slingshots him into the corner. Crisscross and Ali with a push-off dropkick. Ali goes for his rolling X-Factor, but Murphy catches and dumps him over the top rope before hitting him with a somersault plancha.
Buddy Murphy (c) vs. Mustafa Ali:
Back inside, Ali avoids an attack from the top rope, rocks Murphy with Super-Kicks, and spikes him with a reverse-rana for a near-fall. Ali tags Murphy with forearms. Murphy with a flurry of strikes, interrupted with a spinning heel kick. Ali with a unique tornado DDT with Murphy caught between the ropes that's only good for a two-count. Murphy avoids the 054, pushing Ali over the top rope for a face-first landing across the apron. Ali, I hope you have great medical insurance. Murphy undresses a commentator's table, only to have it backfire on him when Ali takes him down with a Spanish Fly to the arena floor! Back inside, Ali goes to the top again, but Murphy grabs a handful of hair, hits a corner-trap Super-Kick, and plants Ali with a Liger-Bomb for two. Ali counters the Murphy's Law with a school-boy for two. Murphy counters a twisting body press with a jumping knee strike, and Murphy's Law (modified Olympic Slam) finishes at 12:21. Needed a few more minutes, but easily the best match on the card (so far). ***1/2
The Miz, Rey Mysterio, Jeff Hardy, Samoa Joe, and Shane McMahon vs. Finn Balor, Braun Strowman, Drew McIntyre, Dolph Ziggler, and Bobby Lashley (w/ Lio Rush and Baron Corbin):
Not quite the star-power as last year's men's 5-on-5 Match. For the THIRD STRAIGHT YEAR, Shane and Braun are representing Smackdown and Raw respectively. Strowman wans to start with Joe, but McIntyre tags himself in because THIS TEAM DOESN'T GET ALONG. Joe surprises McIntyre with the Coquina Clutch. McIntyre shrugs him off, but Joe grabs it again. McIntyre kicks off the turnbuckle to escape a second time and hits the Claymore Kick to eliminate Joe at 0:37. WOW. Crowd doesn't appreciate that one (and again, with Shane, it essentially handicaps Smackdown into a 5-on-3 situation). Hardy tags in, doing "Delete" motions to rally the crowd. Crisscross and McIntyre with a short-clothesline. Ziggler, the UNCROWNED Best in the World, tags in for a rematch with Shane O'Mac. Shane lays in with his usual bag of potatoes, but Ziggler quickly fights him off and hits a dropkick to the face. Ziggler with a Famouser for two. Shane counters the Super-Kick with a rolling elbow. Shane tries a diving elbow but Ziggler counters with the Zig Zag, only for Miz to save him from elimination and drags him into the corner to tag in. Dolph avoids the Figure-Four and a series of counters ends with Dolph hitting another dropkick. Strowman tags in, then McIntyre tags himself in again, leading to Team Raw fighting amongst themselves. Why is Team Smackdown INTERRUPTING THIS?! We get the obligatory "everyone gangs up on Strowman" spot, including Rey hitting the 6-1-9 and Shane and Miz knocking him over the top rope with a double clothesline. The action continues, on the floor, with the Smackdown Crew putting Braun through a table via Shane's flying elbow. In the defense of WWE, they made sure he wasn't the legal man. On the other hand, THE LEGAL MEN ARE ALL ON THE FLOOR!
With Strowman taking a nap (pulling a Roman, I guess), we're back in the ring with Miz and McIntyre. Meanwhile, Stephanie McMahon and Paige "watch" the match by looking at each other and standing in front of the TV at an angle. McIntyre refuses to tag in Balor, so Balor tags himself in and kicks McIntyre in the face. He knocks Miz off the top with a step-up enzuigiri and hits a double stomp (and slides onto his face in a good-looking botch). Balor counters the Skull Crushing Finale with a roll-up for two. Miz avoids the Coup de Grace, but Balor follows him to the floor with a dropkick and takes out Hardy with a sling-blade. Balor with a shotgun dropkick, knocking Miz into the barricade. Mysterio tags in with a seated senton, followed by a twisting body press. Balor catches him off the ropes with an inverted DDT for two. Wait... WHY ISN'T FINN IN DEMON FORM FOR AN IMPORTANT MATCH? Mysterio misses the 6-1-9 and gets taken down with a sling-blade. Balor sends him into the corner with the shotgun dropkick. Mysterio avoids the Coup de Grace, hits the 6-1-9, and finishes with the splash off the top at 12:05.
McIntyre quickly bulldozes Mysterio, then gives Balor a clothesline before tossing him out of the ring unceremoniously. Mysterio tries another 5-1-9, but Lashley cuts him off with a boot. Lashley sends him into the corner and connects with a neck breaker. Lashley with the delayed vertical suplex, but Mysterio counters with knees to the top of the head and a DDT. Ziggler tags in and gets a kick to the face. Hardy with an inverted atomic drop and leg drop across the midsection for two. Dolph counters the Twist of Fate. McIntyre trips him up and eats a DDT on the floor for it. Back inside, Ziggler with a high-angle DDT for two. Hardy avoids the Super-Kick and hits the Twist of Fate. Swanton Bomb meets the knees. Miz with the diving clothesline into the corner, and he encourages Shane to go to the top for the Coast-to-Coast, eliminating Ziggler at 18:09. Lashley runs over Shane with clotheslines and tosses him into the corner with a belly-to-belly suplex. Miz tags in and gets planted face-first. Lashley posts himself charging into the corner. Miz calls for Shane to go to the top again, but this time BRAUN IS BACK, and he knocks Shane out of the air with a clubbing forearm. Hardy tags in and Braun kills him dead with the Power-Slam at 20:45. Mysterio with a missile dropkick. He targets the leg, but the 6-1-9 is caught and Strowman Power-Slams him back to the locker room at 21:20. Miz offers Shane as a sacrificially lamb, but Strowman finishes Miz with another Power-Slam at 22:24, leaving Shane by himself. Don't worry, he's only got a few seconds before Strowman kills him, too, ending the match at 24:00 and leaving Strowman, McIntyre, and Lashley as the Survivors. Post-match, Corbin cheap-shots Strowman to further a pointless rivalry destined for a TLC blow-off (yes, the actual TLC GIMMICK WITH CORBIN). Good match, but nothing special. I'm all for Strowman doing the rapid-fire eliminations instead of the usual "roll-up parade" we occasionally get, but I'm tired of Shane in these situations (yes, I'm aware this whole "Smackdown Fail" is the drive home his heel turn, but does anyone really care?). ***1/4
Charlotte Flair vs. Ronda Rousey (Raw Women's Champion):
This was intended to be BECKY LYNCH vs. Ronda in a Champion vs. Champion scenario, but Nia Jax happened, so they had to do major reconstruction for the show with less than a week to prepare. Ronda gets a mixed response for the introductions and the crowd chants for Becky. OK, then. Flair clips the knee early, but Rousey responds with a straight kick to the midsection. An aggressive lockup into the corner leads to Charlotte shoving Rousey to the canvas. They go back and forth with counters, with Rousey unsuccessfully going for the arm-bar. Charlotte grabs a side headlock and throws her face-first into one of the bottom turnbuckles. Exploder suplex out of the corner for two (what, no reference to maybe being in tribute to Becky?). Charlotte works the leg while we see Rousey has a busted mouth. It matches her eye make-up and tights, at least. The replay shows Charlotte caught Ronda on the mouth with her elbow. Rousey catches Charlotte with a knee to the face and hooks a hanging arm-bar in the ropes. She goes high risk and pays for it, ending up straddled across the turnbuckle. Charlotte climbs up with her, but the super-plex is blocked and Charlotte is dropped face-first to the canvas. Rousey pulls Charlotte back up and comes off the ropes with an arm-bar, but Charlotte stacks her up for a two-count. Charlotte counters the triangle choke with a Boston Crab, but a transition to the Figure-Eight is blocked. Rousey blocks the Natural Selection and works the arm.
Charlotte rolls through to escape, hits Rousey with a modified back breaker, and drops her with a straight boot to the face. Rousey gets the boots up to counter the moonsault and hits the rolling Samoan drop. She wastes time trash talking and Charlotte spears her for a near-fall. Charlotte avoids the arm-bar and hooks the Figure-Four, Rousey counters, and they end up rolling out of the ring. Rousey regains her composure first, throwing Charlotte into the barricade. Back inside, Rousey with a series of Judo throws and a flurry of strikes. Charlotte fires back with chops and hits a running boot for two. Rousey counters a slam, but Charlotte rolls out of the ring to avoid the arm-bar. Rousey with another twisting Samoan Drop "that she calls the Piper's Pit." SHUT UP, COLE. Charlotte rolls out of the ring to avoid another arm-bar and magically finds a kendo stick that she whacks Rousey with to draw a Disqualification at 14:10. I think we all should've expected the non-finish coming. Post-match, Charlotte lays a beating on Rousey with the stick, goes crazy on the referees, physically assaulting them for trying to break things up, and capped it off by wrapping a chair around Ronda's neck and stomping on it. The crowd responds by treating Charlotte like a hero and booing Ronda leaving under her own power in the traditional "milking for sympathy" spot. I don't care how much practice is done in the weeks beforehand, Rousey is freakishly good for someone with so little experience. The crowd response was a bit more aggressive against Ronda than I expected, I guess seeing Charlotte as the avatar for Becky Lynch. Regardless, a hell of a performance and the first match that is truly worth checking out. ****1/4
Brock Lesnar (Universal Champion) (w/ Paul Heyman) vs. Daniel Bryan (WWE Champion):
We're finally getting the match originally intended for SummerSlam 2014 (where Brock wiped the floor with Cena instead). In the days leading up to Survivor Series, Daniel Bryan defeated A.J. Styles for the WWE Title on Smackdown Live, using a low-blow to gain the victory, and capped off his victory with a vicious attack, officially turning him heel. Bryan comes out and turns his back on the "Yes" chants. Bryan immediately goes for the leg as the bell rings, then hangs out on the floor and jogs around to taunt Brock. Brock gives chase, so Bryan climbs back in the ring and mimics Brock's hopping around in an instantly classic moment. Bryan finally tries a strike but Lesnar catches and clobbers him with a forearm. He scoops Bryan off the canvas and drops him on his head with a release German Suplex. OUCH. Lesnar drags Bryan to the center of the ring and tosses him a second time. Lesnar changes things up, using an over-head belly-to-belly suplex instead. They take it to the floor, with Lesnar throwing Bryan into the barricade. Back inside, Brock slaps on a bear-hug, because he can. Crowd chants "same old sh*t" as he hits his 67th suplex. He finally hits the F-5 but chooses to pick Bryan off the canvas at two.
Brock goes for another F-5, but Bryan's feet knock the referee down, and with that opening, Bryan hits him low and follows with the running knee for a near-fall. Bryan targets the knee with kicks, then starts kicking Brock all over his body, including a flurry of stomps across the face. Bryan fights out of another F-5, sends Lesnar flying over the top rope, and follows him out with a slingshot plancha. Lesnar catches him with ease but gets sent into the post. Bryan comes off the apron with the knee. Lesnar catches a suicide dive and slams Bryan against the post. Lesnar with a double-leg scoop and rams Bryan into the post a second time. He grabs the steel steps but misses the target, taking some of the impact on the recoil, and allowing Bryan to him hit with a second knee from the apron. Back inside, Bryan hits Lesnar with the running knee strike for another near-fall. Bryan with a chop block and wraps Lesnar's leg around the post. He dives off the top rope, connecting with a missile dropkick. Bryan with the running dropkicks in the corner. Lesnar catches a third attempt, but the knee buckles and Bryan hooks the YES-Lock (I feel like that move needs a new name now). Lesnar muscles out, only for Bryan to smack him repeatedly with forearms. Lesnar escapes again, escapes a triangle choke and finally finishes Bryan with the F-5 at 18:44. Raw wins every match, by the way (except the Kickoff Match, which didn't matter according to Michael Cole). Good to see Brock Lesnar can still show up and have a strong performance. This started off like any other Brock match, but then Bryan getting the cheap-shot in leading to a string of hot near-falls brought the best out of Lesnar. ****
Final Thoughts: The first half of the show was a complete dog, but everything from the Cruiserweight Title Match and onward was at worst, good, and at best, memorable performances that made the concept of the Raw vs. Smackdown storyline worth sitting through, again. My biggest complaint is the obvious shut-out of Smackdown, likely to fuel the Shane McMahon heel turn nobody cares about. Overall, the top matches salvaged things, and I'd give this a mild recommendation. Other than the Tag Champions vs. Tag Champions match, nothing was remarkably bad, but the lack of crowd heat made good matches seem less stellar.
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