Friday, 19 January 2018

DVD Review: Survivor Series 2017

Image Source: Amazon
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Running Time: 256 Minutes
Certificate: 12
Number Of Discs: 2
Studio: Fremantle Home Entertainment
Released: January 22 2018

(Thanks to Fetch Publicity for arranging this review.) 

The 31st annual Survivor Series originally looked set to be vastly inferior to the 2016 instalment, with Goldberg's place being filled this time around by the suddenly-pushed, rarely-praised Jinder Mahal. Then, AJ Styles captured the WWE Championship, which meant that fans would instead be treated to a Brock-AJ dream match. Alongside some big-name additions to the men's elimination match, and the excitement generated by the ongoing brand warfare storyline, Survivor Series looked set to be one of the year's most memorable cards.

It kicks off on a high note with The Shield battling The New Day, in the dream match that you never realised you wanted to see; given the high quality action on display, though, it's a damn good thing that we got it. This is followed by the women's elimination match, which unfortunately suffers from several glaring botches, but still achieves its main goal of elevating Asuka to the position of being Raw's hottest rising star in the female division.

Next up, Baron Corbin and The Miz manage to put together an enjoyable match in spite of both men being heels, which is a tough task to pull off (Maryse even gets involved in the action despite being pregnant!). Following this, The Usos add to their resume of excellent doubles matches in 2017 against Sheamus and Cesaro, who have gone from being the team that nobody wanted to being the team that - pardon the pun - sets The Bar for tag team wrestling on the red brand. Charlotte Flair and Alexa Bliss' encounter would have been more intriguing if Brock Lesnar weren't in the subsequent match, since this telegraphed the result (due to the ongoing brand rivalry scoreline), but the action is still well worth watching, and is arguably the best match that each competitor had in 2017.

Then, we're treated to a fantastic match between Brock Lesnar and AJ Styles. This is the sort of match which elevates Styles in the eyes of those running WWE, as an incredibly talented yet relatively small wrestler manages to put Lesnar at believable jeopardy on several occasions (Lesnar's selling of the Calf Crusher is fantastic). It's also one of Brock's best matches all decade. If you buy this DVD for one match, this is that bout.

The wheels unfortunately come off for the main event, which somehow changed from being all about brand supremacy (and Kurt Angle's position as Raw General Manager) to a Triple H showcase. This is evidenced by the pre-match promo videos, which puts HHH on the level of The Rock or Steve Austin, and by the developments of the main event itself. It becomes all about HHH, including the result, and we're still waiting to see if HHH will face Braun Strowman (via costing him the Universal Championship at Royal Rumble?) or Kurt Angle (in yet another struggle for control of Raw) at WrestleMania 34. Until then, and even at that point, the Survivor Series main event feels like a let-down: it starts off fine, but then loses momentum, and ultimately disappoints in the end.

The bonus footage consists of three matches from the Kick-Off Show. Elias vs. Matt Hardy is a typical pre-show encounter, whilst Enzo Amore vs. Kalisto for the Cruiserweight Championship doesn't quite capture the attention of the fans in Houston. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn taking on Breezango in the pre-show slot feels weird, but their real purpose is to interfere in the main event, and the fall-out of this (namely, Shane McMahon swearing revenge on KO & Zayn, with Daniel Bryan attempting to maintain a balance of fairness, thus leading to Shane and Bryan being at odds) has been the lead storyline of SmackDown ever since.

It's a shame that the main event lost its way from a booking standpoint, because the rest of Survivor Series is tremendous; it was a sure-fire contender for Show Of The Year, but one cannot help but feel disappointed by how the headline attraction degenerated (another unintentional pun) into an excuse to promote Triple H over most of WWE's biggest stars, 18 years after his first WWF Title win (in other words, many years after fans would deem it acceptable). If you can overlook the closing scenes, then Survivor Series is a great show, and it all makes for a very enjoyable wrestling DVD.

Overall Rating: 8/10 - Very Good

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