Nobody saw that coming.
Fantasy warfare turned real at Survivor Series 2016. It turned real for Shane McMahon, who was knocked silly by an amazing Roman Reigns spear. And it turned real for the 49-year-old Goldberg, who finally got to perform a wrestling match for his 10-year-old son, who had never seen his father wrestle live before.
As Rowdy Roddy Piper used to say, "Just when you think you have all the answers, I change the questions." The WWE changed all the questions at Survivor Series Sunday night. What's next for Brock Lesnar? Will The Shield reunite somehow? Is Shane McMahon okay?
For starters, Goldberg destroyed the WWE's top star. None of the titles are moving over to new brands. Nia Jax, for some reason, tapped out. Baron Corbin and Luke Harper made guest appearances to heavily influence matches
But some things remain unchanged. Roman Reigns is still hated by the WWE Universe. AJ Styles is still phenomenal. Chris Jericho is still upstaging Kevin Owens.
The WWE pulled off another show to remember in Toronto. Was it a success? Most of it. The show was saved by a tremendous marathon co-main event. Goldberg vs. Lesnar was a headscratcher, but memorable for sure.
Senior Editor Andreas Hale and staff writer Justin Molina run down each match and deliver their final grades.
Goldberg def. Brock Lesnar
Goldberg squashed Lesnar in 83 spectacular seconds. While many people believed Goldberg was going to win the match, no one saw this coming. Lesnar pushed Goldberg into the turnbuckle to start the match. Goldberg pushed him back, speared him twice and the gave him the Jackhammer suplex for the win. This came across like an MMA fight, where one guy just beat the crap out of the other guy early.
JM: A shocking ending to a match with so much hype. Goldberg's victory, after a 12-year absence, over a guy 10 years younger who fought in the UFC earlier this year, seemed preposterous. Lesnar destroys everybody, but somehow this guy figured out a way to slay the beast. On one hand it was cool to see Goldberg win, then celebrate with his 10-year-old son in the ring. On the other hand, however, the quick loss took a bit of the sizzle away from Lesnar. Let's hope that we see a rematch between these two, and a better, longer match. While it's cool to see Goldberg return so impressively, having a guy who is nearly 50 years old, with a grey beard, defeat Lesnar, felt entirely unbelievable.
AH: Really? A pair of spears and a Jackhammer and Goldberg beats Lesnar in a return bout from 12 years ago? WTF? I knew Goldberg wouldn’t be able to work a 15 minute match and that this should have waited until Royal Rumble. Maybe it was a setup for that because word is spreading that Goldberg will be back for the Rumble. But this was as ridiculous as you can imagine. Nobody has been able to put a dent in Lesnar since he returned to the company several years ago. But here’s 49 year who runs roughshod over The Beast Incarnate? Wow. I don’t get the point and Lesnar’s stock was dealt a mighty blow. Hopefully they have something planned to make us forget about it. What’s worse, and arguably more significant, is that we’ve had three straight underwhelming Lesnar outings at major pay per views. His WrestleMania match with Ambrose was a dud and that whole nonsensical feud with Randy Orton didn’t go anywhere. Booking him like this did him no favors. At least Goldberg’s family had a good time.
Team Smackdown LIVE (WWE World Champion AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose, Smackdown LIVE Commissioner Shane McMahon, Bray Wyatt & Randy Orton w/ James Ellsworth) def. Team Raw (WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens, U.S. Champion Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Chris Jericho & Braun Strowman)
Hell of a match. We saw it all: A Shield reunion, great wrestling by AJ Styles, Seth Rollins and Chris Jericho, and an amazing spear by Roman Reigns that didn't end well for Shane McMahon. Kevin Owens flew through the air from the top turnbuckle outside the ring, showing that big men can fly and white men can jump. Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton, with help from Luke Harper, won the match, defeating Roman Reigns.
McMahon attempted a Coast to Coast, (where he jumps from the top of the turnbuckle from one side of the ring to another). Usually he's trying to dropkick a trashcan into the face of his opponent, but this time Reigns popped up and speared McMahon in mid-air, sending McMahon backward and his head slamming against the mat. McMahon was legitimately shaken up by the move, and the referee called for the bell because McMahon was unable to continue.
This match went 52 minutes and was full of great spots, including Strowman throwing Ellsworth from the top of the ramp through some tables. Strowman also wrecked AJ Styles when he threw him over the top rope. Only Styles' incredible athleticism saved him from suffering a major injury as his body flipped over the apron and onto the floor. Owens also showed loyalty to his "best friend" Chris Jericho, getting himself disqualified to save Y2J.
JM: With the exception of Strowman, who is dangerous out there, everyone in this match worked hard and made this match feel special. AJ Styles bumped like a ping pong ball for everyone, proving why he's the best wrestler in the company. The long match was full of ups and downs and crescendos, which fueled the drama of the match. The temporary Shield reunion almost made me like Roman Reigns. Shane McMahon needs to stop wrestling. He's gonna get hurt, even worse than he did tonight. The Chris Jericho-Kevin Owens dynamic continues to entertain. Jericho, as the aging superstar, is the perfect sidekick for Owens. This match delivered.
AH: Somebody tell Shane McMahon he gets paid more than enough to not take these kind of sick bumps. The spear Roman Reigns delivered to a midair McMahon was absolutely brutal and most likely concussed the Smackdown Live GM. Braun Strowman was brilliantly booked as a monster heel here. While it was kind of strange to see Kevin Owens get DQed because he used Jericho’s list, it made sense to not weaken him anymore than he’s already been as champion. And, boy, was Jericho over in this match. We got some great moments that included a Shield reunion, the previously mentioned spear and an RKO that murdered Seth Rollins. The problem was that this match was incredibly long and didn’t really progress any angles aside from AJ Styles vs. Dean Ambrose. I thought they’d at least tease Randy Orton breaking away from Bray Wyatt or Jericho and Owens feuding. Neither happened. While I hated that Roman Reigns was the last man standing for Raw, I loved that Bray Wyatt delivered the Sister Abigail to pick up the victory for Team Smackdown. I’m just curious where he goes from here.
The Brian Kendrick (c) def. Kalisto via disqualification
Good cruiserweight match wrecked by a terrible finish. Baron Corbin ran in to beat up both wrestlers. Since he hit Kendrick first, Kendrick won via disqualification. Kalisto performed his usual array of mystifying aerial moves.
JM: Corbin, one of the biggest guys in the company, beating up on two of the smallest, made no sense and falls in the category of things we hate about professional wrestling. Corbin was supposed to be too injured to even wrestle on the show, yet here he is doing a run-in to squash two guys who aren't supposed to be treated like little guys who can't hang with the big guys. The ending ruined this otherwise decent match.
AH: Now I’m really confused. Why tease the idea of moving the cruiserweight division over to Smackdown and not pull the trigger? It makes all the sense in the world for Smackdown to house the cruiserweights with 205 Live getting ready to debut. The match itself did little to showcase what cruiserweights can do. Kendrick grinds everyone to a halt in the matches he has and truly takes away from the cruiserweight experience. Kalisto has zero personality but it would have made sense for him to pull this out and anchor the division on Smackdown Live. He did most of the work while Kendrick did a lot of headlocks. And then, Baron Corbin? Why? Oh yeah, because the WWE is already tired of the cruiserweights and had no real plans for them. So let’s allow a big guy to mistreat them for reasons unknown. The CWC seems like it was an eternity ago.
Team Raw (Raw Tag Team Champions The New Day, Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson, Enzo Amore & Big Cass, Cesaro & Sheamus and The Shining Stars) def. Team SmackDown LIVE (Smackdown Tag Team Champions Heath Slater & Rhyno, American Alpha, The Usos, The Hype Bros and Breezango)
Sheamus & Cesaro were the sole survivors pinning The Usos. Cesaro stole the show with his athleticism and facials. The Hype Bros and Breezango were fortunately pinned and eliminated early. The New Day were barely in the match. Enzo Amore and Big Cass opened the match with an electric promo. Cesaro and Sheamus traded great near falls with the USOs. They argued with each other after the match and Sheamus even snubbed Cesaro's handshake attempt. They fight like a married a couple.
JM: Too many wrestlers here to really make sense of anything. Odd to see tag team champions The New Day pinned seconds into the match. Sheamus & Cesaro are a good tag team, an odd couple that must work together. Even though the two dislike each other, they have chemistry and will hopefully end The New Day's title reign soon.
AH: Another Survivor Series match with baffling booking but got better as the herd was thinned out. Breezango getting eliminated in a matter of seconds wasn’t a big deal. But then The New Day get knocked off and I had no idea what the heck they had planned. The Usos were excellent and I wish we didn’t have to see American Alpha go so soon (feels like they were called up too early and need a soft reset). The shallowness of the tag division is what hurt the match. Hype Bros are just terrible to watch and nobody cares about The Shining Stars. But everyone else worked at a frantic pace and shined when necessary. Booking Sheamus and Cesaro to go over was a little surprising as Gallows & Anderson could have certainly used it more than these two. But that final stretch with Sheamus and Cesaro vs. The Usos had some great storytelling. I just wish this were a match with three teams on each side instead of five.
The Miz (c) def. Sami Zayn
The Miz retained the championship after rolling up Zayn with a schoolboy. Zayn had The Miz in a figure four leglock when the bell rung, distracting everyone. Zayn looked up to see why the bell rang and The Miz tricked his way to victory.
JM: Zayn made the match watchable with his splashes, dives and aerial moves, but the ending just deflated this match. The Miz is a heel champion so we expect dastardly things, but those types of screwjob finishes belong on television, not big PPV shows. This match and outcome made little sense considering that The Miz beat Dolph Ziggler for the title last week. If Smackdown Live was going to keep the championship, we might as well have just seen Ziggler and Zayn tear the house down with a great match. Instead, we got mediocre Miz and Zayn losing, unfortunately, again.
AH: Okay, somebody has to explain to me why Ziggler had to drop the Intercontinental title just so The Miz could pick up a cheap win -- complete with a Vince-Can't-Help-Himself callback to the Montreal Screwjob -- and deny Zayn the opportunity to go over in front his home country. The match was actually good and heading towards great thanks to Zayn’s brilliant selling of his leg throughout. Zayn is simply underutilized and I hoped that he’d win the IC title and decide to stay on Smackdown because he was getting buried on Raw. Then the wacky finish happened with Maryse ringing the bell early, which led to a lousy finish. The ending really hurt this one. Hopefully, Zayn isn’t relegated to lower-mid card status after this. He’s just too good for that.
Team Raw (Raw Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks, Bayley, Nia Jax & Alicia Fox) def. Team SmackDown LIVE (Natalya, SmackDown Women’s Champion Becky Lynch, Alexa Bliss, Naomi & Carmella)
Charlotte and Bayley were the sole survivors. Bayley pinned Becky Lynch with a Bayley to Belly suplex. Although Nikki Bella was supposed to be in the match, she was mysteriously attacked backstage by an unknown person. Natalya, the coach of the team, took her place. After Nia Jax looked impressive early, she was tapped out by Becky Lynch, in a surprise turn. Charlotte turned on Bayley after the match, setting up a contest between the two likely at The Royal Rumble.
JM: A good match hurt by the type of blown spots that we often see in women's matches. Nia Jax delivered an incredible double-armed suplex on Alexa Bliss and Becky Lynch, before the duo botched a doubled DDT on Jax. After Jax kicked out of the messed-up move, Jax tapped out to Lynch's "disarmer" finisher. While we have experienced a women's revolution, the quality of the wrestling in the women's matches still leaves a lot to be desired. Charlotte, Bayley, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch are really strong, but everyone else drags them down. This was too much women's wrestling in one place at one time.
AH: This was frustratingly underwhelming. Sasha Banks being eliminated by Natalya, a ridiculously botched DDT on Nia Jax and a pretty sloppy match overall. At least Becky Lynch looked good. It felt like Nia Jax could have been booked stronger and there was a story in there somewhere about Becky Lynch being the underdog. Oh, wait. That was for Bayley. But she had a 2-1 advantage with Charlotte and they just picked up the win after a Bayley-to-Belly on the Smackdown champion. I don’t understand. All of this to set up a Bayley-Charlotte feud? Unnecessary.