WWE

WWE Survivor Series: No title changes, Roman reigns, but NXT claims bragging rights

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Roman Reigns celebrates his Survivor Series win

WWE Survivor Series 2019 took place on Sunday night.

It was a night of champions retaining, NXT talent stepping up and some surprise dissension between teammates in the elimination matches.

Here is a look at what happened on the main show and analysis of what to take from the matches.

1. Team NXT defeated Team Raw and Team SmackDown in a women’s triple threat team elimination match when Rhea Ripley pinned SmackDown’s Sasha Banks

How the match was won: Ripley was the sole survivor after pinning Banks.

They had been the final two, and both enjoyed good nearfalls in an entertaining exchange, before things swung NXT’s way as Io Shirai and Candice LeRae had returned to ringside.

The pair had been injured early on and been ruled out of the match, but both looked fine when they returned.

Banks was hit from behind by Io with a dropkick setting up Ripley for the big win for NXT.

Talking point: Asuka turning on Charlotte Flair, admittedly with provocation, leading to the Japanese woman spitting green mist in the face of the Team Raw captain.

This is likely to set up Flair going after the tag titles that Asuka, and Kairi Sane, hold in the remainder of 2019.

The big winner: Ripley has had a brilliant weekend. She got the pin on NXT Women’s champion Shayna Baszler in the women’s War Games match at NXT TakeOver on Saturday and now she won here.

The crowd popped big for her throughout and she was treated, and booked, like a star.

The only down point was the messy ending with the return of Io and LeRae. Banks didn’t need protecting and Ripley winning clean would have been the icing on the cake.

The down point: Predictably, given 15 women were involved, there was a lot of quick pins and the dreaded roll-up was well used.

Team Raw’s Natalya was made to look like an idiot for trusting Banks when it looked as if they would gang up on Ripley when it was down to the three of them.

Banks, who had turned on Natalya in August, predictably attacked her from behind and pinned her.

Verdict: A bit convoluted as expected. But furthering Asuka v Charlotte and making a star out of a Ripley makes this a success.

2. Roderick Strong (NXT) won a triple threat men’s match against AJ Styles (Raw) and Shinsuke Nakamura (SmackDown)

How the match was won: Styles, the Intercontinental champion, looked like he had the match won when he hit Nakamura, the United States title holder with the Phenomenal Forearm.

But Strong, NXT’s North American champion, threw the Raw star out of the ring and pounced to get the pin on Nakamura.

Talking point: Having three heels up against each other made for an awkward dynamic and it was clear the Chicago crowd did not know who to root for.

Eventually Styles became the defacto favourite, though the crowd did pop big for Strong’s upset victory.

The big winner: Nakamura was made to look like a monster at times here, punishing both men with some vicious kicks. The only pity is that this intensity was lacking from his heel turn last year when he was feuding with Styles for the WWE title.

The down point: This was the first significant problem with the brand supremacy narrative.

With no title at stake in the non-championship scenario, and three heels in the ring, the match took a long time to heat up.

It did, and the closing minutes were fun, but this was awkward booking.

Verdict: Once it got some momentum this was good, and the man who needed the win the most went over.

3. Adam Cole defeated Pete Dunne to retain the NXT Championship

How the match was won: After a brutal encounter in which both men kicked out of each other’s finishers, Cole put away Dunne with the Last Shot to continue his title reign.

Talking point: A brilliant match which did the job of demonstrating just how good both men are to a wider audience then their usual role on NXT programming.

The crowd became hugely invested, with a standing ovation taking place mid-match.

The big winner: Both men. Cole continues to impress as the defiant champion, and this NXT invasion run has really highlighted just how good he is.

Dunne was superb here. Taking a lot of punishment and never giving up, and coming agonisingly close to winning on a number of occasions.

The down point: None. A great match, the right result for forward booking, but overall an event that got both protagonists over.

Verdict: Match of the night. Big things ahead for both men after this superb outing.

4. The Fiend beat Daniel Bryan to retain the Universal Championship

How the match was won: After withstanding the best of Bryan’s offence, Bray Wyatt’s The Fiend incarnation came out on top as he choked out his challenger with the Mandible Claw.

Talking point: The return of babyface Bryan was fun and the revival of the Yes Movement as the crowd really got behind his bid to regain the WWE title for the first time since WrestleMania 35 in April.

The big winner: Bryan again demonstrated he is one of the very best around right now.

He took Wyatt to his best match since his debut of The Fiend character and showed he still has the ability to get an entire crowd rooting for him.

The down point: Having The Fiend take an enormous amount of punishment, then not sell it, is going to get old very quickly and hurt the credibility of his opponents.

The red strobe lighting was again an irritant, although the quality of the match meant it was not too much of a distraction.

Verdict: A good match that did not overstay its welcome. The right man won, with the return of Bryan as a major babyface an intriguing prospect.

5. Team SmackDown defeated Team Raw and Team NXT in a men’s triple threat elimination match when Roman Reigns pinned NXT’s Keith Lee

How the match was won: Lee had eliminated Raw’s last man in Seth Rollins but then fell to a fierce spear from Reigns to give SmackDown bragging rights in the men’s division.

Talking point: This feels like the start of the reheating of Reigns in the main event scene ahead of WrestleMania 36.

Since his return from illness in February Reigns has not been a title challenger and that feels as if it has been a deliberate move from WWE after over-pushing him in the past.

It was a big win for him. He will likely face Baron Corbin at WWE TLC in December after, tired by the King of the Ring winner’s antics, he turned on his teammate with a Superman Punch that led to an elimination.

The big winner: Lee and Tommaso Ciampa were made to look very strong for NXT, with Matt Riddle getting a great moment too as he eliminated Randy Orton.

The WWE certainly did their bit for promoting NXT on Sunday night and Lee and Ciampa stepped up.

Down points: Having Walter be the first man be eliminated, given he is the NXT UK champion, was not ideal booking.

Also, having Kevin Owens, who looked like a superstar on Saturday with his surprise appearance at NXT TakeOver: War Games, fall relatively cheaply after he was caught by surprise by Ciampa seemed very odd and highlighted the jumbled use of the former Universal champion in recent months.

Verdict: Like the women’s match this did suffer with continuity issues and some very rapid eliminations.

The business end of proceedings was entertaining though, and Reigns v Lee and Lee v Rollins are certainly money matches on the basis of the action in Chicago.

6. Brock Lesnar retained the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Rey Mysterio in a No Holds Barred match

How the match was won: After surviving interference from Mysterio’s son Dominic, Lesnar suplexed the younger Mysterio off the top rope before catching his opponent, as he jumped from the top rope, and hit a F5 to retain.

Talking point: Seeing Mysterio and his son combine to hit a double 619 was a sight to behold and one we can surely expect to see again before, or at, WrestleMania 36.

The big winner: Lesnar reminded everyone how good he is when he is motivated and invested in what he is doing.

He sold brilliantly in the build-up to this match to make Mysterio a viable threat, despite the size difference.

He continues to be the marquee presence in the heavyweight division of WWE and it will be a major shock if he is not still WWE champion well into next year.

The down point: Nothing to dislike. Match told a believable story and gave Lesnar the win while still giving the Mysterios some level of vengeance for their brutal assault at the champion’s hands in September.

Verdict: Short and sweet (though probably not for the Mysterios) at seven minutes long. Lesnar marches on and Mysterio proves he can still go at the top of the card in 2019.

7. Shayna Baszler (NXT) defeated Becky Lynch (Raw) and Bayley (SmackDown) in a women’s triple threat match

How the match was won: Having brutalised Lynch and left her lying ringside, Baszler got Bayley in the Kirifuda Clutch and the SmackDown women’s champion tapped out.

Talking point: It was a mixed blessing that the women’s triple threat was the main event.

It was a sign of faith in the division again, and showed respect to have their three champions in the top spot.

However, the crowd was tired after a long evening and it took a long time for them to engage in match that took a while to really get going. The trio deserved better then the flat atmosphere they had, but it was understandable.

The big winner: Can only be Baszler. This was no fluke win. She was portrayed as being utterly dominant – taking out Lynch legitimately and tapping out Bayley.

She has been superb as NXT champion and, if and when she ends up on Raw or SmackDown, there will be some major matches to be booked. She is a star, and like Ripley earlier in the night, was shown to be one in Chicago.

Down point: Lynch got her heat back post-match by attacking Baszler and that wasn’t really necessary – although clearly a singles match between the pair is coming  – the intrigue is in when it will happen.

Bayley felt like a spare part in this feud and predictably she was the one to take the direct loss.

Her heel turn has not really kicked on and you feel she needs a big few months on SmackDown to really convince she is still one of the company’s top stars going forwards.

Verdict: Not a great triple threat by any means, but if the aim was to make Baszler look like a superstar then it was mission accomplished. Bring on Lynch v Baszler in a singles match please.

Pre-show results

Viking Raiders (Raw) defeated The New Day (SmackDown) and Undisputed Era (NXT) in a men’s brand supremacy Tag Team triple threat

Lio Rush defeated Kalisto and Akira Tozawa to retain the NXT Cruiserweight Championship

Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode won a Tag Team Battle Royal

Final thoughts

NXT’s night with four wins from the seven inter-brand matches.

Clearly WWE have an eye on the future with Rhea Ripley, Shayna Baszler, Keith Lee and Matt Riddle all having big moments on arguably their biggest WWE show to date.

There was a little bit of classic Survivor Series inter-team clashes in the shape of Asuka and Charlotte Flair, as well as Roman Reigns and Baron Corbin, and that will set up some of the programming for the rest of the year.

Overall a good, but not great, night with Adam Cole and Pete Dunne’s thrilling clash comfortably the best match on the card.

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