WWE Survivor Series 2018 Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights
Brand warfare dominated WWE Survivor Series for the third year in a row as Raw and SmackDown squared off in a series of matches meant to determine supremacy rather than further ongoing storylines.
Luckily, marquee matches such as Daniel Bryan vs. Brock Lesnar and Charlotte Flair vs. Ronda Rousey made for a star-studded card that created genuine excitement after weeks of lethargic build.
Who emerged from Los Angeles' Staples Center with their arms raised in victory on Sunday, and which brand was able to establish bragging rights in the wake of the annual pay-per-view extravaganza?
Find out with this recap of the WWE Network presentation.
10-on-10 Tag Team Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Match
Team Raw: The Ascension, The B Team, The Lucha House Party (Kalisto and Lince Dorado), The Revival, Bobby Roode and Chad Gable
Team SmackDown: The New Day (Big E and Xavier Woods), The Colons, Sanity (Eric Young and Killian Dain), Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson and The Usos
The New Day hit the ring to kick off the festivities Sunday night and tested the crowd, making it a point to emphasize the fact that the crowd was decidedly pro-SmackDown Live. They were joined shortly by their partners, for all of whom they provided stirring introductions.
The Raw team entered separately, most of them to little reaction. When Gable took the microphone, he was met with boos from an apathetic audience not at all feeling the flagship show.
A backflip attempt by Kalisto led to him tweaking his knee, an injury that would hamper him early as he was worked over by Primo and Epico. Primo continued to attack the injured knee of Kalisto but turned right around into the Shatter Machine from The Revival after Scott Dawson tagged in blindly. (Elimination: The Colons)
The Raw team isolated Anderson, but the good brother was able to score a rollup on Bo Dallas after some well-timed interference from Gallows and eliminate the former Raw tag team champions. (Elimination: The B Team)
Bobby Roode pinned Eric Young off a moonsault/neckbreaker combination that also involved Gable. (Elimination: Sanity)
Big E entered for Team SmackDown and frustrated The Ascension's Konnor, trapping him in an abdominal stretch. Woods tagged in and found himself at the mercy of The Ascension, but another tag to Big E led to a big splash and another Raw departure. (Elimination: The Ascension)
The action broke down as Lucha House Party paired off with the Good Brothers. Gran Metalik replaced the injured Kalisto, delivered a senton and pinned Anderson. (Elimination: Anderson and Gallows)
The Usos even the sides, dispatching of Metalik and Dorado. (Elimination: Lucha House Party)
The Revival, Roode and Gable represented Raw, working over Woods, whose partners Big E and The Usos watched on from their side of the squared circle. A missile dropkick from Woods led to a hot tag to Big E. A blind tag to Gable led to an exploder suplex to Big E, and a deadlift German into a neckbreaker from Roode kept Big E down for two.
A uranage/backstabber combination to Roode only kept the former NXT champion down for two as Gable broke up the pin. At ringside, Dawson went flying and Dash Wilder delivered a big tornado DDT to Woods. Big E speared Wilder off the apron, and Gable wiped out the field with a dive of his own as the action broke down.
A superkick from Jey Uso to Roode cut off Raw's momentum, and a dive from the second-generation star leveled the opposition out at ringside. A German suplex from Gable to Jimmy Uso, off the top rope and to the mass of Superstars below, popped the crowd.
Big E and Woods worked together and finished Gable off. (Elimination: Gable and Roode)
The Revival utilized its tag team awareness as it sought to stave off elimination. The team did just that, catching a flying Woods in midair with Shatter Machine to send him and Big E packing. (Elimination: The New Day)
Wilder and Dawson continued their roll, working over The Usos in an attempt to prove they are the premier team in wrestling. Each team scored near-falls until the Usos unleashed a series of superkicks and Jimmy came off the top rope with the team's trademark splash to score the win. (Elimination: The Revival)
Team SmackDown defeated Team Raw (Sole survivors: The Usos)
There was so much cannon fodder in this one that the entire first half was unnecessary and only served to bog things down. The Lucha House Party was particularly bad, never really jelling with any of their opponents.
SmackDown's team coming down to New Day and The Usos was predictable, but for Raw to be represented by The Revival at the end, after how poorly it has been booked overt he last year, was somewhat of a surprise. As Dawson and Wilder tend to do, they made the most of their moment and worked with both SmackDown staples to elevate the quality of the match.
Imagine how good this would have been had it just been The Revival vs. The Usos or New Day.
As it is, it was a nice little match that had too much going on to ever amount to anything and had a major credibility issue with half of its participants.
5-on-5 Women's Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Tag Team Match
Team Raw: Sasha Banks, Bayley, Mickie James, Nia Jax and Tamina
Team SmackDown: Asuka, Carmella, Naomi, Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose
Changes occurred during the Kickoff Show, including Raw team captain Alexa Bliss kicking the feuding Ruby Riott and Natalya off the team in favor of Bayley and Sasha Banks, and SmackDown team captain Naomi revealing Mandy Rose as the replacement for Charlotte Flair.
Nia Jax received enormous heat as she came through the curtain, the crowd holding her responsible for Becky Lynch's injury suffered Monday night.
Naomi and Tamina started the match for their respective teams, the former using speed and agility to try to catch her larger opponent off guard early. The action broke down quickly, both teams entering the ring and unloading on each other.
In the midst of it all, Naomi ate a superkick from Tamina, ending her night prematurely. (Elimination: Naomi)
Carmella answered, immediately rolling up Tamina and dispatching of her. (Elimination: Tamina)
The Princess of Staten Island called for a dance break but found herself in the unenviable position of squaring off with Jax. She quickly tagged out to Rose, who fearlessly took the fight to her larger opponent, delivering a big knee that left Jax searching for a tag. She found one, and James entered the match.
Asuka tagged in to a big pop and came face-to-face with James, the fans chanting her name as she squared off with the six-time women's champion. The Empress of Tomorrow trapped her into a roll-up but was nearly caught off guard by a roll-up from James.
Deville tagged in next, bringing her quick strikes to the match against the veteran James. Bayley then tagged in and immediately delivered a rolling elbow to Deville. James quickly tagged herself back in as Corey Graves explained James wanted all the glory.
Rose, tagging herself in, pinned James to the dismay of friend and partner Deville, who had flattened the longtime competitor with a running knee. (Elimination: Mickie James)
Carmella and Bayley squared off, the former mocking Banks. It hurt her, as Bayley recovered and delivered her Bayley-to-Belly suplex for a quick fall. (Elimination: Carmella)
Rose, the talk of the match to this point, took the fight to Bayley as Graves continued his unabashed support of the Golden Goddess. Banks tagged in and tapped out Rose to the Bank Statement. (Elimination: Mandy Rose)
Asuka paired off with The Boss in what would have been a dream match if WWE Creative had not done such a poor job of handling The Empress since WrestleMania. It was short-lived, too, as Deville tagged back in. She grounded and pounded Banks, looking to keep her faster opponent neutralized.
Jax broke up a pinfall attempt by Deville and paid for it, eating a big kick from Asuka. Banks answered for Team Raw, delivering a Meteora to her at ringside.
Bayley delivered a Bayley-to-Belly suplex to Deville at ringside, and neither could answer the referee's count. (Double elimination: Bayley and Sonya Deville)
Asuka was left at a two-on-one disadvantage, faced with the unenviable task of battling Banks and Jax for the right to raise her arm in victory. She came face-to-face with Banks, the dream match of sorts resuming. A big knee to the face of Banks and a German suplex had The Empress rolling.
A big missile dropkick left Banks reeling as Asuka flashed hints of the dominant force fans fell in love with during her days in NXT.
Asuka and Banks engaged in quality counter-wrestling before a double knee attack in the corner won Banks the advantage. As Banks scaled the ropes, Jax inexplicably shoved her off and into the Asuka Lock. (Elimination: Sasha Banks)
Jax entered the ring after the fall and unloaded with a series of leg drops to Asuka and a Samoan Drop for three. (Elimination: Asuka)
Team Raw defeated Team SmackDown (Sole survivor: Nia Jax)
A better match than the tag team opener, it allowed many of the lesser-celebrated SmackDown stars to shine, particularly Deville and Rose. They were allowed to score some impressive eliminations and demonstrated their considerable growth and evolution as in-ring competitors.
The booking was somewhat questionable early, especially with the elimination of team captain Naomi at the top of the match and the nonsensical betrayal by Jax.
Still, The Irresistible Force built a ton of heat for herself and the right team went over, so there is that.
If anything, this match did a fantastic job of making this writer pine for an eventual Asuka vs. Banks match.
Intercontinental Champion vs. United States Champion
The first champion vs. champion match of the night saw Raw's intercontinental champion Seth Rollins battle SmackDown's United States champion Shinsuke Nakamura in a rare never-before-seen dream match.
Chants of "Nakamura" and "Burn it down" rained down from the stands as the Superstars grappled. The chants continued as the U.S. champion rolled to the floor to slow Rollins' momentum.
After a nasty spill to the ring apron, Nakamura brilliantly changed directions, forcing Rollins to change the ropes he was running. He caught The Kingslayer with a knee to the face and seized control of the bout.
Nakamura worked over Rollins, grounding him with a double chicken wing. He shifted to a front face lock and threw in some knee strikes to the face in hopes of keeping his opponent grounded. Rollins sent Nakamura facefirst into the turnbuckle and delivered a Sling Blade as he mounted a comeback.
Rollins exploded through the ropes with a trifecta of suicide dives, flattening The Artist at ringside.
Back in the ring, Rollins set up Nakamura for a suplex, but the heel countered with a kick. The running knees to the ribs downed The Architect for a two-count. Nakamura utilized a rake of the eyes to slow Rollins' chance at another momentum-building comeback.
Nakamura trapped Rollins in a triangle choke, but Rollins powered out and delivered a buckle bomb. He tried for the Stomp, but Nakamura countered and scored a near-fall. Rollins answered with the superplex, a roll through and a falcon arrow that earned him another count of two.
Nakamura rocked Rollins with a reverse exploder and tried for the Kinshasa, but Rollins dodged it and answered with the ripcord knee for yet another near-fall. Nakamura delivered Kinshasa but could not keep Rollins down.
A second attempt led to a superkick. He tried for the Stomp but Nakamura dodged it. The Artist attempted another Kinshasa but Rollins rolled out of the way and finally delivered the Stomp for the win.
Rollins defeated Nakamura
It took a hot second for the match to get rolling, but once it did, it was fantastic.
The match built with every spot, every near-fall, and left fans guessing as to which Superstar would emerge victoriously, even if all signs pointed to The Architect picking up the W.
Unlike recent months in which Nakamura has been treated as an afterthought on SmackDown, he was booked strongly and lost only after one momentary instance of Rollins catching him off guard.
After a better-than-expected opener, this kept Survivor Series rolling on a night when it desperately needs it, given recent booking decisions and the emotional sidelining of top stars.
Raw Tag Team Champions vs. SmackDown Tag Team Champions
New Raw tag team champions AOP, accompanied by 205 Live general manager Drake Maverick, battled SmackDown tag team champions The Bar, seconded by The Big Show, in the second of the night's champion vs. champion matches.
Sheamus and Cesaro unloaded on Akam and Rezar from the opening bell, looking to catch the more inexperienced team off guard. The Swiss Superman delivered the Cesaro Swing to Akam, but Rezar launched himself across the ring, breaking it up and isolating Cesaro from his partner.
Cesaro fought his way back to his feet, ending a very long hope spot and made the tag to Sheamus. The Celtic Warrior delivered the 10 Beats of the Bodhran and flew off the ropes with a shoulder tackle.
At ringside, Maverick tried to get involved but was chased around the squared circle and right into Big Show. The giant wrapped his hand around Maverick's throat, choking him until he peed himself. The distraction allowed AOP to score the win.
AOP defeated The Bar
Do you know how badly booked a match has to be for The Bar to have a bad one?
This sucked. There is no nicer way to possibly put it. The action was slow until the Sheamus hot tag, and even then, it did nothing to make either team look particularly good.
The finish was God-awful...but Vince McMahon probably laughed his ass off, so there's that.
Let us all just pretend this never happened and move on.
Cruiserweight Championship Match: Mustafa Ali vs. Buddy Murphy
The only match on the Survivor Series card with no effect on either Raw or SmackDown saw 205 Live's Buddy Murphy defend the cruiserweight title against Mustafa Ali.
The more powerful Murphy drove Ali into the corner right away, using his shoulder to inflict damage to the ribs of his opponent. The elusive Ali escaped and delivered a headscissors that sent the champion to the floor. A somersault dive from the top rope wiped out Murphy on the arena floor.
Ali scaled the ropes, but Murphy met him up top and shoved the challenger off, propelling him into the guardrail. Murphy continued to overwhelm Ali with his size and strength advantage while simultaneously absorbing and shaking off any strikes directed his way.
Ali finally fought back, building momentum for himself. He sent Murphy chest-first into the top turnbuckle and caught him with a dropkick. Murphy regained control, launching himself over the top rope and wiping out Ali at ringside.
Back inside, Ali unleashed on Murphy with superkicks and followed with a spike reverse rana.
Ali delivered a tilt-a-whirl DDT through the ropes on Murphy but could only net a two-count. He set up Murphy for the 054, but Murphy sent him crashing to the ground below. Ali was motionless on the outside as the champion stared at the announce table. He removed the cover and set up the challenger for something, but Ali caught him with a kick. He followed up with a Spanish Fly off the announce table as chants of "205" erupted.
Ali again tried for the 054, but Murphy grabbed him by the hair, delivered a superkick to the face and hit a powerbomb, followed by a sit-out powerbomb for two.
Ali tried for a springboard but ran into a knee. Murphy finished him off moments later to successfully retain his title.
Murphy defeated Ali
Murphy and Ali have had better matches, in front of hotter crowds, but this was still damn good. The effort was there, the high spots were fantastic and the creativity was off the charts. On a night where the emphasis was on Raw and SmackDown, the Superstars of 205 Live impressed on the main broadcast of a pay-per-view.
The champion has had a superb year, but Ali has been one of the best wrestlers on the planet in 2018. He may not have left with the gold, but he continued building his star so that when he finally wins that title, it is a momentous occasion.
5-on-5 Men's Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Tag Team Match
Team Raw: Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntyre, Finn Balor, Bobby Lashley and Braun Strowman
Team SmackDown: Shane McMahon, Jeff Hardy, Rey Mysterio, The Miz and Samoa Joe
The tension among the Raw stars was evident from the outset, and it nearly cost them, as Joe caught a distracted McIntyre with the Coquina Clutch. The sinister Scot escaped and delivered a Claymore Kick for the first fall of the match. (Elimination: Samoa Joe)
After a brief exchange between Ziggler and Hardy, McMahon entered the match and unloaded with jabs and short punches, stunning The Showoff. Ziggler answered with a dropkick and nearly rolled up the SmackDown boss for a count of two. He eventually delivered a Zig Zag to McMahon, but Miz broke up the pin.
Miz and Ziggler paired off, two of the longest-tenured Superstars in WWE representing their respective brands. McIntyre, tagged himself in again, robbing Strowman of the opportunity to wreak havoc. Tensions boiled over and Strowman struck his partner. SmackDown capitalized and teamed up to beat down Strowman.
The Monster Among Men powered out but fell prey to the 619. The blue team dumped him over the top rope and to the floor. McMahon ripped apart the announce table and delivered a flying elbow, driving him through it.
Back in the ring, McIntyre delivered a sharp chop to the chest of Miz, only to eat a kick from his own partner Balor, who exploded into the match. He delivered a double stomp to the face of Miz and rolled him up for two. He looked for the Coup de Grace, but Miz bailed to the floor.
Balor was a "one-man wrecking crew," per Michael Cole, as he laid into Miz and Hardy. A tag to Mysterio halted Balor's onslaught momentarily, but the former universal champion cut him off. Mysterio recovered, delivered a splash and scored the fall. (Elimination: Finn Balor)
McIntyre, looking to send a message, attacked Balor and tossed him from the ring.
Lashley cut off a 619 attempt on McIntyre and tried for a gorilla press. Mysterio ducked out but was still overpowered and tossed around by the arrogant villain. Mysterio sent Lashley over the top rope, but Ziggler had made a blind tag. Mysterio leveled him and tagged in Hardy.
The Charismatic Enigma unleashed on anyone and everyone in his path but ate a Zig Zag from The Showoff. Hardy, showing great resiliency, still managed to shoot his shoulder off the mat before the three. Hardy fought back, delivered a Twist of Fate and tried for a Swanton. Ziggler got his knees up, though.
Miz tagged in and delivered a clothesline to Ziggler. He stared at McMahon and demanded he try Coast-to-Coast on the prone former world champion. He did, connecting with the face of Ziggler and scoring the fall. (Elimination: Dolph Ziggler)
Lashley re-entered the ring, delivered a big overhead suplex and stomped away at McMahon. The boss tagged in Miz, and he suffered the same fate, enduring a beating at the hands of Lashley. A blind charge into the corner, though, saw Lashley collide with the ring post. With Lashley prone, McMahon received the tag and again tried for Coast-to-Coast.
This time, Strowman appeared and swatted McMahon in midair, knocking him down. Lashley tried for a pin, but Mysterio broke it up.
Strowman pinned Hardy after a powerslam. (Elimination: Jeff Hardy)
The Monster Among Men delivered another, catching Mysterio and slamming him to the mat for the fall. (Elimination: Rey Mysterio)
Miz looked dumbfounded as he realized it was him and McMahon against Lashley, McIntyre and Strowman.
Strowman chased down Miz, slammed him and won another fall. (Elimination: The Miz)
McMahon was the last man standing for Team SmackDown, faced with the impossible task of overcoming Strowman, Lashley and McIntyre if he was to emerge victoriously. Ever defiant, he implored Strowman to bring it, and the monster did.
He delivered a dropkick and powerslam to seal the win. (Elimination: Shane McMahon)
Team Raw defeated Team SmackDown
This was a one-sided ass-kicking by Team Raw that only further cemented the idea that the flagship is a superior brand to SmackDown. That is interesting given the fact that Fox reportedly just spent over $1 billion to acquire the rights to SmackDown beginning next year.
Even with all of the dissension on the Raw side, SmackDown could not do enough to overcome the red brand. Why? Because the other team had three big men who needed protection, obviously.
Don't think that is the case? Look at the two guys who were eliminated: Balor and Ziggler. Not exactly the prototypical McMahon-favored big men.
Throw in stipulations that handcuffed the creative team, and Raw had to win, further delegitimizing SmackDown Live.
Speaking of delegitimizing SmackDown, why did it have to be McMahon that was the last man standing for the brand? Would it have killed the brand to put a defiant Joe in that position, fighting until he could not fight anymore for the brand that he calls home?
Apparently so, since he was dismissed early and treated like a complete joke.
This was a curiously booked match that did SmackDown no favors, put all the emphasis on Raw and left a bad taste in this writer's mouth.
Ronda Rousey vs. Charlotte Flair
The two biggest stars in women's wrestling squared off Sunday in a dream match of sorts hampered by the dark cloud of Becky Lynch hanging over it.
Raw women's champion Ronda Rousey and Charlotte Flair attempted to grapple, but frustration got the best of them, leaving Flair to shove the champion away. Rousey responded, using speed and athleticism to grab an armbar on Flair. The Queen escaped, and they eventually came face-to-face, the tone of the match set in its opening minutes.
Flair sent Rousey facefirst into the bottom turnbuckle and immediately targeted the lower back and leg of her opponent. A throw earned Flair a two-count. The second-generation star grounded Rousey and targeted her knee. Rousey, her mouth bleeding, tried to fight out and did with an enzuigiri.
An alert and aware Rousey grabbed Flair in an armbar in the ropes and exploited the five-count before releasing. She scaled the ropes but wound up crotched, as Flair fought back into the match. The former SmackDown women's champion set her up for a superplex, but Rousey held on and Flair faceplanted.
Rousey rolled into an armbar as Flair tried to adjust her body weight to avoid defeat. Flair fought out and applied the Boston Crab. Rousey escaped but ate a big boot to the face moments later.
Flair tried for a moonsault, but Rousey got her feet up in time to catch her in the face. As Rousey fired up, Flair caught her with a spear. Flair escaped a headscissors and applied a Figure Four. She tried for the Figure Eight, but Rousey fought out and reversed the hold, leaving her opponent screaming in pain.
They rolled toward the ropes and fell to the floor, breaking the hold.
An enraged Rousey sent Flair into the guardrail, then rag-dolled her in the ring. She followed with rights and lefts, but Flair cut her off with a barrage of chops. Rousey blocked a chop but could not block a big boot that earned Flair another near-fall.
Rousey nearly scored another armbar, but Flair utilized her height to make it to the ropes. Rousey delivered a Piper's Pit slam and tried for another armbar. Again, Flair rolled to the floor. She broke the count, and as Rousey took off around the ring, Flair blasted her with a kendo stick.
After the bell, Flair broke the kendo stick all over the body of Rousey. Back inside the squared circle, she continued to obliterate Rousey with the weapon, standing over the fallen body of the champion. Her eyes wide, anger painting her face, Flair grabbed a chair from ringside.
Flair went to leave but returned and delivered Natural Selection to Rousey, onto the steel chair.
Referees hit the ring to pull Flair away, but Charlotte grabbed the chair and wrapped it around the head of Rousey. She proceeded to stomp on it, injuring the neck and throat of The Baddest Woman on the Planet.
Producers hit the ring to finally separate Flair from Rousey.
Rousey defeated Flair
Not only was the match awesome, but the heel turn and post-match beatdown were superbly done.
Flair looked like a woman possessed as she unleashed on Rousey, pummeling her with weapons and assaulting her on a level unlike anything she has ever experienced before. In the process, she set in motion the potential for a storyline in which Rousey must overcome No. 1 contender Nia Jax, an enraged Flair and a Becky Lynch waiting in the wings for her opportunity to get her hands on the champion.
The boos for Rousey Sunday night were disheartening because she has done such a great job as a babyface to this point. One can only hope those boos were the result of a crowd that was very pro-Lynch. If not, WWE may have on its hands a babyface like Roman Reigns and John Cena who fans greet with jeers despite their status as legitimate main event heroes.
As she has done repeatedly, Rousey brought it in a huge, high-profile match and continued building one of the most impressive rookie years in professional wrestling history. Flair deserves a lot of credit, but Rousey has been so good against so many stars of varying skill levels that it would be irresponsible not to applaud her for everything she has accomplished in such a short period.
Universal Champion Brock Lesnar vs. WWE Champion Daniel Bryan
On the heels of a shocking victory over AJ Styles, turning heel and winning the WWE Championship, Daniel Bryan headed to the ring for a date with universal champion Brock Lesnar in the main event of Survivor Series. His face was emotionless and cold, the only expression a slight grin when he held the WWE title overhead.
Lesnar circled the ring like a lion sizing up its prey. Inside the squared circle, Bryan goaded him, mocked him even, showing no fear in the face of a match against the most dangerous man in combat sports.
Bryan immediately went for the leg of his larger, more unforgiving opponent. He rolled to the floor and jogged, his arrogance at an all-time high. Bryan goaded Lesnar out of the ring and rolled back in, frustrating Lesnar.
The Beast finally obliterated Bryan with a clothesline and followed by a release German suplex that was equal parts brutal and scary. Lesnar tossed Bryan around the ring with reckless abandon, unforgiving in his decimation of the WWE champion. The universal champion mauled his opponent, Corey Graves stating, "This is a lesson in humility Daniel Bryan will never, ever forget."
Lesnar applied a bearhug, looking to seep whatever fight was left in Bryan out of him. More suplexes and another bearhug followed as the WWE Universe became restless.
"Goodnight, everybody!" Lesnar said before delivering the first F-5 of the match. He broke the pin before the three-count, though, and tossed Bryan again.
Lesnar bent down to lift Bryan, but the latter caught him with a kick to the face. Lesnar hoisted Bryan up for an F-5, but Bryan kicked the referee. With the official down, he delivered a low blow and followed with the running knee for a really, really close near-fall.
Bryan, gaining his second wind, unloaded on Lesnar, kicking the hell out of the universal champion as the crowd responded with glee. Paul Heyman screamed from ringside, sensing his client may be in danger.
Bryan recovered and sent Lesnar to the floor and then into the steel post. A running knee from the apron left Lesnar reeling at ringside. The newly minted heel tried for a suicide dive but wound up in the waiting arms of The Beast, who drove him into the ring post.
With Lesnar stunned again, Bryan delivered another running knee. Unfortunately, he could only keep Lesnar down for two. He took the knee out and wrapped it around the ring post. Corner dropkicks followed, and when Lesnar tried for the F-5, his knee gave out and Bryan applied the "Yes!" Lock.
Bryan countered Lesnar's attempt to break the hold with a series of clubbing forearms to the face and reapplied the hold. Bryan applied a triangle, but Lesnar powered out and delivered the F-5 for the win.
Lesnar defeated Bryan
Bryan rope-a-doped the hell out of Lesnar, coming as close as anyone has to beating Lesnar fair and square in the middle of the ring.
There will be those who complain that Bryan lost here, but he was brilliant, suckering Lesnar in and taking a cerebral approach to the match not often seen in today's product. From a storytelling standpoint, it was excellently booked. Bryan was smarter, and that in-ring intelligence almost felled The Beast.
Bryan did not need to win the match. He needed to look impressive and impress Lesnar. He did just that, surviving an ass-kicking and coming within in a second of picking up the biggest win of his career.
Most importantly, he leaves Survivor Series with momentum on his side and an upcoming episode of SmackDown where, hopefully, we get a hint of what we can expect from his character going forward now that he is the top heel on the blue brand.
Kudos to Lesnar, who sold more for Bryan and was more motivated to work than he has been with the likes of Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman and Samoa Joe, perhaps insinuating that he wants that type of challenge when he rolls in the front door for his contracted dates.
After all, we have seen him deliver similarly against guys like AJ Styles and CM Punk.