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10 Things We Learned From WWE Survivor Series 2018

Brock Lesnar trying against Daniel Bryan is a good thing indeed...

In the immediate aftermath of the 2018 Survivor Series, it's hard to get a truly accurate beat on the show, as there's not exactly a consensus. The SmackDown-lovers are currently raging about how awful life is (thankfully, they all missed the show due to cancelling their Network subscriptions in protest of Crown Jewel), while the optimists note the positives, like Psycho Charlotte, Brock and Bryan killing each other, and the fact that Baron Corbin in a red muscle shirt looks like teenage Caillou after joining a gang.

It was what it was: a WWE-style production without much deviation from the stories they prefer to tell (if NXT's your bag, no doubt you're crying, "TakeOver was better!", which is weird that you would know that, seeing as you cancelled your subscription after...). And in that WWE-style production, there was some subjectively-bad stuff and some subjectively-good stuff. It's par for the course, and we all know this.

Personally, I enjoyed the show, though it doesn't exactly get me all fired up to see what happens next on Raw or SmackDown (*especially* SmackDown). As a standalone show, it was a nice diversion, with some of that old Survivor Series charm that I loved so much growing up.

Here's what I learned from watching the 2018 Survivor Series.

10. Giving People Time To Work Can Allow Them To Win Over The Crowd


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From a character-effectiveness standpoint, last year's Cleveland Browns had a better shot at victory than the 10-man Raw team from the Kickoff show. When Braun Strowman can mow through the entire tag team division blindfolded, you're not exactly being represented by Demolition and The Hart Foundation. I cringed when I saw that the 20-man (my favourite match of the 1987 and 1988 events) was relegated to the Kickoff, but I also understood.

The match got 22 minutes and damned if it didn't have the crowd invested the longer it went on. Teams like The Revival, Lucha House Party, and Bobby Roode and Chad Gable may not have the earned prestige of New Day or The Usos, but they matched up well with their blue counterparts. The last half of the match was filled with exciting sequences and the like, and was one of my favourite matches of the night. Nice bit of rehab from the Strowman mauling, but will it last?

9. Boos Are Currency To WWE


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If you've ever read Shawn Michaels' first book, you'll notice the number of times that he quotes Vince McMahon in saying "let's turn a negative into a positive," meaning taking bad circumstances and rolling with them. When the Nia Jax/Becky Lynch incident happened, and everybody got mad at Nia (most of whom probably didn't care for her to start with), I predicted what would happen: she'd get booed heavily, and WWE would use the notoriety to push her as a killer heel.

And that's basically what we saw, as Nia hogged the glory at the end of the women's elimination match, while the crowd in LA booed her as though she cut the funding for NXT. As long as crowds jeer her into oblivion, she'll continue to be pushed, unless they feel she's a complete liability in the ring. Reactions will usually always keep people on TV.

8. The Insistence On Shirts Can Create Some Brutal Looks


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I had to do a double take when Shinsuke Nakamura made his entrance, because the all-blue look and the wet-hair waterfalling to one side made him look like Honky Tonk Man for a brief moment. Not that Seth Rollins' half-Raw/half-Shield design was anything snazzy, but Nakamura looked like he was either flailing about in a crooner's jumpsuit or about to climb the Aggro-Crag without a helmet.

I kinda understand why the wrestlers are all forced to wear shirts, since it may be hard for much of the audience to remember who's on what brand, so the colour-coordination does have a convenience. But man, does Survivor Series ever look like one of those indy shows where everyone wrestles in a shirt, or what? Also, shouldn't Corey Graves have worn a half red/half blue suit, like a tattooed Harvey Dent?

7. TV Cameras Can Induce Urine


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I didn't know it was possible, but that moment with Drake Maverick showed me that was indeed true. So there was Big Show (not wearing a brand-centric shirt, perhaps due to an arcane contractual quirk), choking Maverick up against the ring ropes, when the camera panned out to show us ol' Spud's crotchal region. Why are we looking there, he's not....oh, I see, he just so happened to piss himself, and the camera conveniently caught the moment, gotcha.

WWE sure does love their visual gags that involve bodily functions, don't they? Being that Big Show was once the victim of an ex-laxing at the hands of one Eddie Guerrero, perhaps he'll feel a kinship with poor Drake, who may have avoided embarrassment had the camera lens not been pointed directly at his Spuddy sprout.

6. So Yeah, People Like 205 Live


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"ECW" has long been a popular chant, with "NXT" as its spiritual successor. Both have decidedly-underground flavours (even if both were financed by WWE to different degrees). The 205 Live brand and program are similar to that, living in relegation beneath Raw and SmackDown, surfacing on PPV nights in pre-show throwaways, mostly. This time, Mustafa Ali and Buddy Murphy got actual PPV time, and more than made the most of it.

The chant of "205 Live" was clear late in the bout, after the two car-wrecked their way to a fine showing, one where Ali spent half of it flying around like a tennis ball (is he part jetpack on his mother's side?). It wasn't all that long ago that 205 Live seemed like purple-hued purgatory, a token show for WWE to stash genuine talents so that others couldn't have them. Matches like this, on a major PPV, show that there's a serious attempt at making the show work.

5. Shane's Too Good To Colour Coordinate


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When sworn enemies and friction-addled guys like Braun Strowman, Drew McIntyre, Finn Balor, Bobby Lashley, and Dolph Ziggler can all don the same red shirts, you have to figure that the unity in sartorial colour provides some sort of unearthly power, enabling unlikely partners to be at their best in an important battle. Apparently, The Best in the World didn't get that memo.

While Shane McMahon's SmackDown partners all wore blue shirts, there was Shane in that white baseball jersey that he tends to favour. Granted, being The Best in the World gave him the strength to outlast his four World Champion-caliber partners, but one has to think that not going blue along with them was the factor that cost his team. Really, he has nobody to blame but himself.

4. All Women Should Turn Heel


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Before SummerSlam, the consensus was that Becky Lynch was really cool, likeable, and fun to watch in the ring. When she snapped and tried to maim Charlotte, the consensus of 'like' went to another level, as angry, moody, smart-mouthed Lynch with a mean streak became everyone's spirit animal. And Charlotte, she was practically "scum of the earth" in the eyes of many for having the temerity to feud with Becky. Then she goes full psycho mode on Ronda Rousey, and suddenly, Charlotte's the embodiment of awesome.

So that's a tip - turning heel is the best thing for a female wrestler to do, as it unlocks vital ingredients for acquiring popularity and success in the industry. An additional thing I learned: the best thing to do when somebody has a possibly-crushed throat is to try to give them water. In fact, *most* internal injuries can be remedied the same way as hiccups. Mankind felt great after the 1998 King of the Ring when somebody scared him.

3. Ain't Nothing Like A Motivated Brock Match


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Yeah, people are still gonna groan at another Brock Lesnar victory, albeit less so when the match is actually amaze-balls. And his war with Daniel Bryan sure didn't start off promising - even Herb Dean and Mario Yamasaki wouldn't have hesitated to stop the fight early. But once Bryan began his furious comeback, all of a sudden, the template shattered like the third Commandment slab in History of the World, Part I.

Some of my favourite matches in the last seven years have involved Brock (against Cena at Extreme Rules, Punk at SummerSlam, 'Taker inside Hell in a Cell, among others), and when Brock breaks out of the rote Suplex formula in order to have a competitive fight, there's nothing like watching him. Once his match with Bryan really got going, it was an absolute treat.

2. SmackDown Is For Losers


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Even going back to the original brand split in 2002, there's always been this palpable sense that Raw and SmackDown represent two different ideals - Raw is "corporate" and "mainstream", while SmackDown is somehow an underground resistance movement that needs to rise up and bring down the corrupt overlords on Monday nights. Many fans are apt to back the underdog, saying the TV shows are better (at times, certainly), and just feeling a general kinship with what they believe the theme of the show is.

I'm sure Tuesday will provide some sort of direction for why SmackDown got swept out like the Cavs in this year's NBA finals, but if a SmackDown backer didn't know better, they'd think Survivor Series was just an elaborate troll job to remind them of what the A-show really is. Thankfully, most diehard SmackDown fans missed Survivor Series, after cancelling their Network subscriptions...ahh, I've run this joke into the ground.

1. Low Expectations Can Lead To Good Times


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For my money, the all-time best "low expectations" show was WrestleMania 31. The TV leading up to 'Mania seemed like anti-advertising, designed to repel instead of attract. And yet, come the end of the night, I was ready to put WrestleMania 31 in the all-time top ten Grand Spectacles. That, to me, is the gold standard of low expectations-turned-surprise hit.

Survivor Series 2018 doesn't exactly match that, but I have to say that I wasn't expecting anything special. The inter-brand rivalry doesn't really appeal to me, and the whole "Only night of the year where Raw and SmackDown..." reinforcement is enough to make you wanna give out tracheotomies with a cordless drill. All the last minute changes didn't inspire too much hope either. But, on the merit of the last two matches, and some fun classic Survivor bouts, I found the event to be a good watch. Part of that is because I'm not a SmackDown diehard, of course.

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Justin Henry

Written by Justin Henry

In addition to writing lists and commentaries for Cultaholic, Justin is also a features writer and interviewer for Fighting Spirit Magazine, and is co-author of the WWE-related book Titan Screwed: Lost Smiles, Stunners, and Screwjobs.