WWE Survivor Series review: Hey, that’s CM Punk

There was a WWE show on Saturday, but no one will remember much aside from the final few minutes.

Yes, after weeks of speculation and despite all the reports indicating that WWE didn’t have any interest in bringing CM Punk back, guess what happened? CM Punk came back, much to the joy of the Chicago crowd and the many people on social media who now feel vindicated against the reporters who they knew, deep in their hearts, were just plain wrong. It was a genuinely surprising moment in an era where those kinds of surprises are few and far between, though I guess for the true believers, Punk's return wasn't a shock.

So what happens now, does Punk go to Raw? SmackDown? What’s the WrestleMania plan? Who is his first opponent? We’ll probably find out sooner than later, but at the very least, it's an interesting wrinkle in the current dynamics of pro wrestling where WWE right now feels like the hotter product than AEW who, perception-wise, feels lacking in terms of storytelling. A lot about pro wrestling is momentum, and it's clear which promotion has that right now.

Punk’s return followed the men’s WarGames match, which had a very simple formula: make everyone wait for Randy Orton’s return. Of course, as soon as everyone entered the ring, all the heels beat up the babyfaces and started to pose when….Rhea Ripley came out with Damian Priest’s Money in the Bank contract. It was only then that Orton’s music hit, leading to a very jacked Orton to come out and do all of his trademark spots. A big RKO to JD McDonagh off the steel cage and a crossroads to Damian Priest later by Cody Rhodes, and that was the match. 

These WarGames bouts don’t have the intensity of the ones back in the NWA/WCW days, and I wish there wasn't such an urgency to use the same weapons you see in just about every WWE hardcore match. But this crowd was hot for everything in this match, so you can't say this match didn't work. If anything, it was a huge success.

And now, on to the rest of the card:

The Women’s WarGames match was also very relatively simple, with the heels controlling until the babyfaces mounted their comeback, did cool stuff (Charlotte with a moonsault off the cage! Becky Lynch putting Bayley through a table!) and got the win. Very good way to start the show, and a bad omen for Bayley, who took the pin. The split is coming, but the question is when. That trash can spot IYO SKY did, by the way, was nuts.One of the biggest problems that I had with The Miz and Gunther was that they booked this like a competitive match. Miz even kicked out of the powerbomb finish. To that, I say, no. Not that I thought this would be a squash, or Miz would get zero offense in, but I had a vision for this match and they had a completly different match that I found hard to believe. I cannot buy that THE MIZ would have a competitive match with Gunther, sorry. To be fair, out of context wasn't a bad match particularly due to the crowd, who ate up all of Miz's nearfalls towards the end.Santos Escobar defeated Dragon Lee in what I thought was a good match, particularly toward the end. I thought the finish was flat, with Escobar hitting the phantom driver in the middle for the win. Not sure why you’d have Dragon Lee lose after being highlighting him the last few weeks on SmackDown. It is true that the big program in the future is Rey Mysterio vs. Santos Escobar, so it's not like Escobar should have lost here either. But then the question is, why did they replace Carlito with Lee at the last minute?Rhea Ripley defeated Zoey Stark. That’s about it. This was good while it lasted, but I thought they didn’t get enough time for it to be anything of substance. I think one of the problems with this match is that no one thought Stark would win, and unlike the Intercontinental title match where people bought into Miz's nearfalls, they didn't here. With Ripley, it’s just a holding pattern until they want to do the Nia Jax match and, presumably, the Becky Lynch match.

And that’s Survivor Series! It was a two match show, and the two matches delivered, so it’s an easy thumbs up show. There’s actually no PLE next month, so the next WWE review will be 9 weeks away for the Royal Rumble!

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