Reverse Hipster's 2023 Survivor Series Reviews
Becky Charlotte Bianca & Shotzi Vs. Asuka Bayley kairi Sane Iyo 9.1/10 A
This was an excellent match to start the night on, A grade match right off the bat. This is one of the most star-studded War Games matches I've ever seen. There were so many amazing spots in this match. Damage Control chained Becky and Bianca together and then drop-kicked them all simultaneously. Iyo catapulted Kairi into the air, came down, and hit the Insane Elbow on Shotzi, who was under a bed of chairs. It was insane, for sure. Charlotte backflipped off the top of the cage, and Becky and Charlotte shared a cathartic hug in the middle of the ring. It was such an emotional moment, given all they have been through.
But the spot of the match was Iyo jumping off the top of the cage with a trash can over her head and torso. I'd never seen anyone do that before; it was incredible. IYO had the best night of her championship reign. Kairi Sane reminded everyone just how good she is. However, Becky’s team won when Bayley took a spear for Sane and then got the Kod from Bianca, Shotzi's backdrop of tShotzi'sand Becky’s Manhandle slam through a table. This finish is where I downgrade the match. Damage Control should have won. This win would have propelled them to even higher heights. I think of The Shield, and the moment that put them over was when WWE"s best stars banded together to take them out, and the Shield still beat them, proving they were here to stay. Also, what was the point of Bayley taking the spear for Sane if Sane wasn’t going to help Bayley? If Sane was going to lie in the corner defeated, then she should have taken the spear.
Gunther vs. Miz Intercontinental Championship 8.5/10 B
Miz has actually been Gunther’s best challenge, one of the greatest IC Champs of all time, so theoretically, he could have taken the IC title from Gunther. Miz came out aggressively, surprising Gunther and taking control of the match. Miz tried everything he could. Surprise Roll up, going below the belt twice, and the Skull Crushing Finale, but Gunther wouldn’t stay down. Gunther pounced on Miz from the top rope and then put Miz in the Walls of Jericho/Lion Tamer combo, and Miz tapped out. Once again, I have to downgrade this match because of the finish. Miz put up such a valiant fight that even Gunther looked at Miz in shock after the win. But having Miz give up instead of being incapacitated really undercuts his underdog story.
Santos Escobar Vs. Dragon Lee 7.8/10 C
This match was pretty regular. Santos tried to take Escobar’s mask off, and even though that spot is super overused, Santos did it well. Santos would go on to win this match, which was the right choice. I like both of these guys, but I didn’t learn anything from this match.
Rhea Vs. Zoey Starks Women’s World Title 7.9 Women's Title
Zoey had her moments in this match, but Rhea still dominated. The match wasn’t boring. Rhea still has yet to face much of a singles challenge in her reign as champion. On the one hand, it makes her look tough and builds up anticipation for the person who finally takes her down, but on the other hand, it makes her match a dull spot on PPVs.
Men’s WarGames 9.3/10 A
The Men's match just started out awesome and never stopped. Whereas other WarGames matches can be boring before the actual match starts, this one just kept building. There was so much story involved in this match. JD & Finn Balor starting the match off together. Students and Teachers are teaming up on a huge PPV. Drew McTyre is going after Jey Uso to finish his personal vendetta. Having Jey cheered and Drew booed after everything the Bloodline did is just a credit to WWE storytelling. Cody Rhodes reuniting with Randy orton and winning his dad’s match.
The Men's WarGames match was more than a match. It felt like a moment that will be remembered for a long time. This was a turning point in WWE content. The top stars are gaining steam. Randy Orton is making a return and having the spot of the match with a ridiculous catch RKO on JD from the top of the Cell. CM Punk returned! This just felt like the moment four horsewomen walked in; it was the start of an era.
Women’s War Games Match
Damage CTRL entered all wearing variations of Asuka’s mask. It was a cool visual that immediately visually set apart that their team was aligned while the babyfaces potentially weren’t. Becky Lynch and Bayley started the match, and Bayley was the undisputed MVP for Damage CTRL, managing the team during the entire match and stepping in to take some of the biggest bumps for her team. This match is worth a complete watchthrough, but the highlight for me was Iyo Sky using a chain to fish a trash can from outside of the ring from Dakota Kai, putting it on herself and using her metal-covered body as a weapon against everyone in the match. The spot was genuinely dangerous and well-executed by Sky. There was also a crazy moonsault off the cage by Charlotte Flair, and a great fire extinguisher spot with Asuka and Bianca Belair. In the end, the babyfaces got on the same page and won when Lynch hit a Manhandle slam on Bayley off the top rope through a table. To end the match, Lynch and Flair hugged, the first time we have seen the two aligned since their heated rivalry last year. This match is well worth the watch, only marked down by the stereotypically thrown together babyface team. It’s a bit disappointing to see Damage CTRL lose on a big stage again, but I love the story they told throughout. This was one of the first times I could think of that a multi-woman match had so much history to play off of. Whether it was the horsewomen, Belair’s epic matches with Flair/Lynch, or the trio of Asuka/Sky/Kairi Sane, this match was a nod to how far the women’s division has come in the last ten years.
Final Grade: 8/10 Great
Gunther vs. the Miz (Intercontinental Championship)
For my money, this is going to be one of those feuds and matches that never gets the full credit it deserves. For weeks, this was built around who is the best modern Intercontinental Champion. Both guys in their career have made this a championship worth fighting for. The Miz came out the best he has looked in a while, and the match featured a bunch of nods to former Intercontinental Champions and matches over the title. Commentators pointed out that Miz was a true student of the game who never got his credit, and it made me think how true it is. I was rooting for Miz so hard by the end, but Gunther put an abrupt stop to his flurry of offense and made Miz tap out. That disappointing finish is the only thing keeping this from a great grade.
Final Grade: 7/10 Good
Santos Escobar vs. Dragon Lee
I was surprised to see this match on a Premium Live Event, but the wrestlers involved totally earned this spot and put on a PLE-worthy match. Santos Escobar continued his white hot heel work, targeting Dragon Lee by trying to take off his mask. Ultimately, Escobar survived Lee’s offense, hitting his own finishing move to win the match. Escobar is white hot as a heel right now, and he is proving himself every time he gets a big chance.
Final Grade: 6/10 Above Average
Rhea Ripley vs. Zoey Stark (Women’s Championship)
Rhea Ripley looked like a star entering the ring to face Zoey Stark, and it sort of reiterated that the result of this match was never in doubt. Regardless, Stark put in a good effort and had a good match with Ripley in defeat. Ripley is still missing that big match or feud to make her reign memorable. Fans know she is a star, but it doesn’t mean anything if there aren’t big matches coming out of it.
Final Grade: 5/10 Average
Men’s War Games Match
Perhaps WWE has just perfected the formula for a War Games match because this was also a great watch throughout. With nearly a half year of chemistry, the Judgment Day and the babyface team put on a great match because of the character work and storytelling they laid throughout the year. Like the women’s match, there was so much history to play off of: the tension between Drew McIntyre and Damian Priest, McIntyre and Jey Uso’s feud, and everyone versus Dominik Mysterio. For me, the best spot was Randy Orton returning after teasing his absence all night. He got the War Games level equivalent of a hot tag when he entered the ring with a huge crowd reaction and the first time we’ve seen Orton get in offense in more than a year. In the end, Cody Rhodes pinned Priest for another babyface win. While I don’t like two thrown-together babyface teams winning war games, this match was fun. McIntyre was perhaps the MVP of this match, resulting in him storming off after defeat.
Final Grade: 8/10 Great
A Mystery Challenger Approaches
I would have put money that CM Punk was not going to be at Survivor Series. I was so confident that he couldn’t make amends with WWE, especially after the stories off his dramatic departure from AEW. I was wrong. He returned to the loudest pop of the night, which is saying a lot and simply made his presence known to the main event scene of Monday Night Raw. WWE ultimately listened to the fans on this one, and while I’m not confident they can hold onto Punk, it was a capital-M Moment for an already great PLE. Next week’s shows are instantly must-watch, which is exactly why you bring in Punk.
Final Grade: 9/10 Amazing
Rob's Final Thoughts
Survivor Series War Games will be remembered as the return of Punk, but it should be remembered for so much more, too. This was perhaps the best 1-2 punch we have seen of the modern War Games stipulation in WWE. Gunther and Miz had an underrated feud and match, and Escobar had a win where it felt like he truly arrived. You could knock the middle of the night for having less meaningful matches, but why bother? With two long war games matches and few filler matches in between, two match of the year candidates, and one moment of the year candidate, the night absolutely flew by. Times like these make it feel like WWE’s reputation as the number-one company in wrestling is earned.
Final Grade: 8/10 Amazing
Reverse Hipster Final Grade 85.2/100 B
My 2023 Survivor Series Reviews find that this was a solid B. It had three awesome returns. R Truth is back, Randy is back, and he looks to be in the best shape of his career. CM Punk is back, and it’s difficult to even think about it’s like a dream. This PPV had a few matches that were just alright, but for the most part, this PPV was really good to excellent.