The Bloodline reigns. Roman Reigns team won a decisive victory at Survivor Series WarGames on Saturday thanks almost entirely to Sami Zayn, who was feeling very Ucey indeed. Zayn stopped longtime friend Kevin Owens from pinning Reigns, then lowblowed Owens, leading to The Bloodline’s victory. It was the second of two WarGames matches of the night: The first, which opened the show, saw a returning Becky Lynch win for Bianca Belair’s team.
The match of the night was the triple threat bout for the United States Championship, which saw Austin Theory pin Seth Rollins to win the gold. Theory was the sole new champion of the night, as Ronda Rousey successfully defending her SmackDown Women’s Championship against Shotzi.
Finn Balor versus AJ Styles was, as you’d expect, also a highlight. AJ Styles won a great clash, pinning Balor after a Phenomenal Forearm. Hopefully it leads to a rematch.
The Bloodline wins WarGames thanks to Sami Zayn
The focus going into WarGames’ main event is Sami Zayn’s loyalty to The Bloodline. On Friday’s SmackDown, Zayn’s longtime friend Kevin Owens encouraged Zayn to turn on The Bloodline before The Bloodline turns on him. That posed the question: Was Sami Zayn a true Honorary Uce, or would he realign with old friend Owens?
The answer at Survivor Series: Sami Zayn is Bloodline through and through. He hit Owens with a lowblow and then a Helluva Kick, securing the win for The Bloodline.
The Zayn story picked up early in the WarGames match. Butch and Jey Uso were the two who started WarGames for their respective teams. Ridge Holland was in second, which allowed The Brawling Brutes to double team Jey. When it was time for a Bloodline member to join, Jimmy Uso rushed out of the cage to aid his brother, but he was stopped by Reigns, who demanded Jimmy stay and Zayn go. To prove his loyalty, Zayn had to go into WarGames and work with Jey, who has long distrusted Zayn.
When Zayn headed to the ring, he got a resounding “Sammy Uso” chant. Very wholesome. He came to the aid of Jey Uso, fighting off the Brutes until the buzzer rang and it was Drew McIntyre’s turn to enter the ring. Jimmy Uso was in next, and brought a table in with him. He’d eventually crash through that same table when Kevin Owens entered the cage next, as Owens barraged The Usos with chairshots before Suplexing Jimmy through the table.
Eventually all 10 men came in, with Roman Reigns being the last to enter. WarGames officially began. The 10 men brawled, and we got our first false finish when Reigns ducked a Brogue Kick from Sheamus, then Speared him. Butch broke up the pin, leading Zayn to attack Butch. Jey Uso tried to Superkick Butch, but Butch dodged it, making Jey “accidentally” kick Zayn.
A series of big spots followed. The Usos hit a 1D on Butch from the turnbuckle. They double Superkicked Ridge Holland, then Reigns speared Holland through a table. Owens took out Solo Sikoa with a Stunner, which led to an outstanding exchange between Owens and Reigns. Owens planted Reigns with a Powerbomb and then a Stunner, but Zayn stopped the pin by holding down the referee.
Owens confronted Zayn — as the crowd chanted “Sammy Uso!” — until Jimmy Uso attempted a Superkick on Owens. Owens caught the foot, but Zayn hit Owens with a low blow. Zayn then clocked Owens with a Helluva Kick, and Jey Uso followed it up with a top-rope splash on Owens for the win.
After WarGames, The Bloodline celebrated in the ring. Announcer Michael Cole put over the fact that Zayn cemented himself as more than just an “honorary” Uce. Reigns embraced Zayn with a hug, followed by Jey Uso doing the same — which got a big response from the crowd.
Rating: 4.25 stars. As noted with the women’s WarGames match, the first 26 minutes of WarGames bouts are often low stakes. This was aided a lot by the Sami Zayn story, which was told throughout the whole match. It wasn’t a blowaway match, but it was excellent storytelling. That’s more important.
Theory wins the United States Championship
Austin Theory is the future, again! Theory won the United States Championship for a second time at Survivor Series WarGames, pinning Seth Rollins to end a fantastic championship bout. Rollins landed a Suplerplex on Theory from the middle turnbuckle and hoisted him up for a Falcon Arrow but, as he held Theory up, Lashley blitzed Rollins with a Spear. Theory fell on top of Rollins, getting the pin.
There was tremendous action here, with all three getting to shine. Rollins’ athleticism was on show when, with Theory and Lashley on the floor on either side of the ring, he ping ponged between the two with a series of Suicide Dives, concluding with a Senton over the top rope onto both men.
Inside the ring, Lashley put the Hurt Lock on Rollins, but Theory jumped on Lashely’s back and put on a Sleeper Hold, forcing Lashley to let go of his Hurt Lock on Rollins. Lashley then slapped the Hurt Lock onto Theory, who rolled up Lashley the same way Brock Lesnar countered the Hurt Lock to beat him at Crown Jewel last month. But Theory didn’t get the pin, because it was broken up by a huge Frog Splash from Rollins onto Theory. Awesome.
In another fun spot, Rollins jumped off Theory’s back to land a super Curbstomp on Lashley. Theory tried to toss Rollins out of the ring and steal the pin, but Rollins fought back. That led to his Superplex and Falcon Arrow attempt, which Lashley interrupted with a Spear, leading to Theory’s victory when he fell on top of Rollins.
Rating: 4.25 stars. This ruled.
Ronda Rousey retains SmackDown Women’s Championship
Surprising no one, Ronda Rousey is still SmackDown Women’s Champion. She defeated Shotzi with a Judo throw from the top rope, followed by an Armbar submission that made Shotzi tap out.
Coming into the match, Shotzi was built as an outclassed challenger in need of a lucky break. But the bout was very much built around making Shotzi look good. She outwitted and outmanoeuvred Rousey for much of their showdown, and Rousey at numerous points had to use Shayna Baszler, who came to the ring with Rousey, as a distraction.
Ronda Rousey lacks polish, but she’s great. She has such a natural heel magnetism: The crowd hates her. Whenever she’d lock Shotzi in a submission, Rousey would get showered with boos. The issue is that she was working with someone the audience isn’t invested in. They’d boo Rousey, but didn’t care enough about Shotzi to cheer her comebacks.
The match wasn’t anything special. Rousey would lock Shotzi down with one submission or another, only for Shotzi to make a plucky comeback — wash, rinse and repeat. There was a nice spot where Shotzi attempted a Cross Body from the top rope, which Rousey managed to counter into a Belly-to-Belly Suplex. But that was also a also very ugly botched DDT on the apron: I’m not sure whose fault it was, but the two just kind of fell down. Moments later, Shotzi took out Baszler and Rousey with a dive into the crowd, hitting a bunch of what I hope were audience plants in the process.
Rating: 2 stars. Rousey is still a special performer, but needs better competition to shine.
AJ Styles beats Finn Balor
AJ Styles got his first pay-per-view win in forever by pinning Finn Balor at Survivor Series WarGames.
AJ Styles is sliding up there in age, now a chipper 45, but he’s still so incredibly smooth. Basic moves like a sliding forearm strike just look so incredible when performed by The Phenomenal One. Much of the early match saw Styles work over Balor’s leg, with the announcers highlighting the idea that Styles is weakening the leg to apply his Calf Crusher finisher.
After hitting a slick backbreaker, Styles setup for a Phenomenal Forearm. The Judgement Day ran interference, with Damian Priest distracting the referree while Dominik Mysterio pulled Styles off the apron. That sparked a brawl between the two factions, with the O.C. and the Judgement Day beginning a brawl that spilled out into the crowd.
Balor is over as a heel. After he planted Styles with a Slingblade, Balor slowly assumed the position in the corner for a Shotgun Dropkick, and the crowd drowned him with boos. They’re not perfunctory jeers either: They really do dislike Balor. It’s great.
The match hit third gear after the gangs left ringside, with tight back-and-forth action. Balor sold the leg that Styles had worked over earlier in the match, hitting an intense double footstomp before grabbing his knee in agony. Styles barraged Balor with a Kenta Rush, but Balor ducked the Clothesline and attempted a Styles Clash, which Styles countered into a Calf Crusher that Balor managed to fight out of. They clocked each other with Pele Kicks — ‘tis the season — laying both out, getting an ovation from the crowd.
Styles did manage to lock in the Calf Crusher, after avoiding a Coup De Grace that stunned Balor thanks to his hurt knee. Balor did an excellent job selling the hold, but fought out by smashing Styles head into the mat over and over again — the same way Brock Lesnar fought out of the Calf Crusher way back at Survivor Series 2017.
They exchange strikes, which gets the dueling “yeah!” “boo” chants from the crowd. Styles skips over the top rope to the apron, decked Balor with a standing forearm and then landed a Phenomenal Forearm for the win.
Rating: 4 stars. Great stuff, though not as good as their 2017 match at TLC. However, I question Styles getting the win. Styles has been underutilized for the past couple of years, its true, but Balor and The Judgement Day have been hot since Balor’s I Quit match win over Edge. That momentum should have been continued — though if Styles’ win means we get a rematch, I’m all for that.
Becky Lynch wins WarGames for Team Bianca
Survivor Series 2022 kicked off with the women’s WarGames match. It pit the five-woman team of Bianca Belair, Becky Lynch, Asuka, Alexa Bliss and Mia Yim against Bayley, Dakota Kai, Iyo Sky, Rhea Ripley and Nikki Cross. Lynch, the returning hero, won WarGames for her team, pinning Kai after a spectacular Senton from the top of the cage through a table.
The rules of WarGames are as follows. WarGames has two rings surrounded by one giant cage. The match see one contender from each team begin. After five minutes, a second woman from Team Bayley would join. (Team Bayley won the advantage after Ripley beat Asuka on Raw.) After that, women from the alternating teams join the rings every three minutes, until all 10 women were in the rings. At that point, the bell would ring and the first team to secure a pinfall or a submission wins.
It’s a hard match to work. Structurally, it’s like an Iron (Wo)Man match, where it’s often only the last 10% that really matters. WarGames only actually “starts” when all 10 participants are in the rings, but that takes 26 minutes to happen. It feels low stakes until then.
There were some notable spots in the meantime, like Nikki Cross’ Cross Body dive from the top of the cage on the five women waiting below. But the first 26 minutes are mostly spent waiting.
Becky Lynch was the last woman to enter the cage, kicking off WarGames proper. By that time, Team Bayley was firmy in control. All four women of Team Bianca were down and out, while Lynch entered.
Lynch ran wild, obliterating Kai and Cross with a trash can, before running into Rhea Ripley. Thanks to a shot from behind by Bayley, Ripley was able to land a Riptide powerslam on Lynch for a nearfall, but it was broken up by Asuka. Moments later, Bayley hit a gnarly Rose Plant on the steel connecting the two rings for a false finish, broken up again by Asuka.
All the women fought on the turnbuckle, leading to Iyo Sky scaling the top of the cage and landing a Moonsault on Yim and Belair. That got a light “holy shit!” chant, followed by a more resolute “this is awesome!” Moments later, Yim locked a Sleeper Hold on Ripley, who fell into a ladder setup in a ringside corner, snapping the ladder in two and getting another faint “holy shit!” chant.
With much of the field down, Lynch and Belair had a facedown with Kai, Bayley and Sky. Lynch got a Manhandle Slam on Kai, and Belair took out Sky with a KOD. Lynch stacked Kai and Sky on the table — getting a huge pop from the Boston crowd — then landed a brutal senton from the top of the cage, pinning Kai for the win.
Rating: 3.5 stars. This was a flawed match. It was all over the place, with there often being three or four brawls going on at the same time. That made it hard to focus attention on any one thing, which led to a mostly quiet crowd. But the match built to a few notable and memorable spots, including a happy ending for the returning Becky Lynch.
While having Lynch secure the victory makes sense, it also deprives Bianca Belair of a new challenger for her Raw Women’s Championship. Team Bianca’s win also makes Bayley’s Damage CTRL faction feel more toothless than ever, having not won any significant matches against Bianca since returning in August. Where they go next, and who challenges Bianca next, is unclear.