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Posted in: Doctor's Orders
Doctor's Orders: Survivor Series 2017 Was Awesome. Two Match of the Year Candidates? Top to Bottom One of The All-Time Great Pay-Per-Views
By The Doc
Nov 19, 2017 - 11:32:33 PM

”The Doc” Chad Matthews has been a featured writer for LOP since 2004. Initially offering detailed recaps and reviews for WWE's top programs, he transitioned to writing columns in 2010. In addition to his discussion-provoking current event pieces, he has written many acclaimed series about WrestleMania, as well as a popular short story chronicle. The Doc has also penned a book, The WrestleMania Era: The Book of Sports Entertainment, published in 2013. It has been called “the best wrestling book I have ever read” and holds a worldwide 5-star rating on Amazon, where it peaked at #3 on the wrestling charts.

QUESTIONS OF THE DAY: What did you think of Survivor Series? What did you think was the Match of the Night?

As the headline read, I thought it was a truly excellent show tonight, the best of the year, and one of the best overall pay-per-views in recent memory. Here are my thoughts on each match:

The Shield vs. The New Day: Match of the Year? (Post 2nd-Watch Revision: No, but Great)

Several weeks ago, someone suggested to me this faction clash as a possibility for Survivor Series and I immediately felt something click in my brain that said very clearly, “If that happens, it will be awesome.” Call it a premonition, if you will, or call it a logical conclusion to draw given the tear that New Day went on from May through October combined with The Shield's historic reputation for delivering in these gigantic six-man tag matches, but it quite clearly was meant to be that The Hounds of Justice and The Trio of Positivity would produce something special. What an amazing performance to kick off the show; and what a stage for Big E, Kofi, and Woods to showcase in their biggest match to date the fullest extent of their capabilities. The New Day had put up a fight by the quarter hour mark – a valiant effort really that would have stated outright that they could hang in a more serious situation against the three cornerstone new stars of this generation – but the final five minutes were that next-level kind of exceptional that elevated New Day's all-time profile; the match further exemplified why The Hounds smashed through the glass ceiling a few years ago as well. Upon initial viewing, I would put this right at the top of the WWE Match of the Year discussion; I thought it was that good. Upon second viewing, I downgraded my rating by a half-star because of the awkward tags and I felt it not quite as epic on replay as I did on the night of. (Doc's Rating - ****)

Asuka Solely Survives Solid Women's Elimination Match

Straight away, I will say that my barometer for this match was last year's Raw vs. Smackdown traditional Survivor Series bout, and that I thought it out-performed its predecessor. The booking for this edition was stronger, but the main thing I took away from it was that the division is just stronger from top to bottom this year versus last. We have talked so much about the Revolution and what state that the Evolution is in, but the by-product of seeing a more committee-like approach in 2017 has been that a match like this has a lot more high quality personalities to disperse through its run-time. It got clunky with two holdovers from the pre-Revolution days in Naomi and Foxy, but the showcase was mostly on for these two divisions, highlighting the various strengths of the competitors either as in-ring competitors or characters. Of course, Asuka's showing gave a lot of people what they wanted to see from this match (myself included), but I thought we got more than we bargained for – the pacesetter that the women will attempt to topple in the coming years. (Doc's Rating - *** ½)

Baron Corbin Has His Best Match In Months, Miz Shines In Defeat

I will not go so far as to say that Corbin pulled himself out of the ground that Cena buried him in at Summerslam, but he had his best match on pay-per-view since May. They told a solid story across their ten-minutes. It was the kind of match that Miz routinely excelled in before he took the next step in his career last fall and the kind of match that Corbin used to have frequently (and that probably prompted WWE to put the Money in the Bank briefcase on him). (Doc's Rating - ** ¾)

The Show Just Keeps Getting Better With The Usos vs. The Bar

Given the form of the brothers Uso, it was going to be highly anticipated to see them against any of the top teams from Raw; that it turned out that they would be facing The Bar, themselves on a tear this year, was arguably the icing on the cake for this card on paper. That icing tasted pretty damn good right? In a match that they were given the proper time to build slowly and logically, these four men put on a show-enhancing performance that ranked near but not quite at the level of some of the best tag team matches of the year on the main roster; the final five or so minutes were absolutely top notch in terms of producing drama built from the action and psychologoy starting from the opening bell. The Bar increasingly remind me of a modern day version of Demolition with their ability to cut the ring and half and dominate their opponents; they are brutal in a good way. The Usos, meanwhile, have kept their career resurgence running for so long and so strong that they are vaulting by the quarter up the all-time tag team rankings. (Doc's Rating - *** ¾)

Alexa Bliss and Charlotte Flair Deliver Characterful Performance

So, I wrote about this one on Friday and felt strongly enough about it that I set some pretty high expectations for it. Characterful is the appropriate description, I think, for what they produced together. Bliss is the best personality in the women's game and she showed the world why, exhibiting a sense of desperation that was palpable at times; she quite evidently wanted to prove that she was on Charlotte's level or above it. She had one of her finest outings in terms of the pacing in her moveset too, but the match still did not quite reach that 4-star range that many keep waiting for her to hit. To her credit, Flair was significantly better as a selling babyface and rather than over-sell to the point that it detracted from the presentation, she struck the right balance, making Alexa look great while simultaneously exhibiting her resiliency and power – she's one of the best athletes in WWE, male or female, after all. Through and through, this was a really good match from both women. (Doc's Rating - *** ½)

AJ Styles vs. Brock Lesnar Was Quite Compelling

Fascinating would be another way to describe it. My goodness was that compelling. It was a Lesnar match, but the type that excelled instead of leaving the world wanting so much more. He came to work and I appreciated the hell out of it; he was sloppy from being asked to actually do something besides throw his opponent around for 8-minutes or less, but I find it hard to detract from that effort. If Lesnar does indeed re-sign next year, then this is the type of action that he has to get back to, for everyone's sake. The Beast Mode can work, so long as Lesnar is made to work.

How about AJ Styles? Undoubtedly, this was the ugliest match he has had in WWE, just in terms of how the little details that usually make his matches so devoid of flaw were so filled with botches. In this case, though, it really did not matter because he was in the ring with a fighter and, for AJ to beat him, things were going to have to get chaotic; so the sloppier moments within the context of the situation made sense and arguably added to the presentation, accentuating how caught off guard Lesnar was that Styles was making a comeback. It reminded me of Lesnar vs. Reigns from WrestleMania 31, in that it told a comparable story of how much Lesnar's opponent could take and still find a way to push him to the brink. I will be interesting to see how this holds up on replay, but I suspect it will hold up just fine because it was a foregone conclusion that Lesnar was going to win after Smackdown went up 3-to-2 in the previous match and I still got wrapped up in the fiction with relative ease. I could see myself adding or subtracting a ½ star when all is said and done, but awesome match in the moment for sure! On replay, I think the rating is fine for now, but will go down when the allure of seeing anyone, especially Styles, actually take Brock well beyond ten minutes wears off. (Doc's Rating - ****)

Strowman Prevents Main-Event From Being Another Part-Timer Appreciation Night

Bottom line for me: this was a very good edition of the epic style Elimination Match that ultimately repositioned the spotlight on what I think is the biggest problem WWE has today, that being its obsession with the past. Fortunately, the show faded to black with Braun Strowman getting his headlining career back on track by not only being one of the sole men surviving, but also the last man standing at the expense of Triple H to end the fourth biggest PPV of the year. Survivor Series is still rebuilding its reputation from years past, so I have less of an issue with it featuring more of yesterday's greatest than I do with the other members of the Big 4, but it still did not sit well with me, on principle alone, that the current generation was mostly cast aside so that McMahon family melodrama could seize the day for six hundredth time. You cannot convince me of the necessity in having HHH, Shane, or Angle in THE prominent roles of a major PPV main-event in 2017. You just can't. Rest assured, had Strowman's music not been playing when Survivor Series went off the air, I would have had a very sour taste in my mouth. That said, I really liked the match from bell to bell; the booking was top notch and everyone got a chance to look like they belonged. For me, any time part-timers are so heavily featured ahead of today's stars, the overall presentation is going to be a mixed bag. (Doc's Rating - *** ½)

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