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Written By: Mark Armstrong
Running Time: 197 Minutes
Number Of Discs: 2
Studio: Fremantle Home Entertainment
Released: January 23 2017
(Thanks to Fetch Publicity for arranging this review.)
The 30th annual edition of Survivor Series was an unusual show, both in terms of fan expectations beforehand and what transpired on the night. In the run-up, it felt like a series (no pun intended) of potentially exciting yet ultimately inconsequential elimination bouts between the Raw and SmackDown brands, along with a rematch from WrestleMania XX in 2004 as Goldberg made his long-awaited return to collide with Brock Lesnar in what was the real draw for the card. On the night, however, the inter-brand collisions exceeded expectations overall, and Goldberg vs. Lesnar was certainly a memorable encounter if not for the reasons that anybody expected going in.
The opening five-on-five women’s match is pretty good, and once again provides evidence as to how much the female division has grown in recent times when one considers the paltry time and interest allocated to the Divas’ battles at Survivors events in the past (I remember that more than one were nothing more than an excuse for the announcers to make jokes). Next up, The Miz vs. Sami Zayn for the Intercontinental Championship is one more reason to suggest that Miz had an incredible comeback year in 2016, although the dodgy finish at a Survivors show in Canada elicted some groans on the night.
Possibly the biggest disappointment of the card was the five-teams vs. five-teams battle. Initially evoking memories of the classic elimination battles from the early Survivors cards which spotlighted the then-stellar tag team division, this incarnation was pretty rushed and, whilst having some eye-catching spots, didn’t come close to matching the incredible battles from the late 1980s starring the likes of The British Bulldogs, The Hart Foundation and Demolition. Although it basically had a last-minute set-up, Brian Kendrick vs. Kalisto for the Cruiserweight Championship was a strong effort, featuring an insane Salida Del Sol off the ring apron by Kalisto. Again, though, a frustrating finish negated the hard work that went into the match.
The same cannot be said for the men’s Raw vs. SmackDown Survivors match, which if not a classic is pretty damn close. Kevin Owens, Chris Jericho, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Braun Strowman vs. AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose, Randy Orton, Bray Wyatt and Shane McMahon is superb, lasting close to a full hour and featuring a ton of stand-out spots and generally topnotch action. Even minor details like the massively-over Y2J reminding Ambrose that he still owed him $15,000 for damaging his jacket back in the spring were nice touches, and capping off with a surprising finish, the match is one of WWE’s best of 2016, with the only negative being when it appeared that Shane had suffered a serious injury prior to his elimination (sorry for the spoiler, but let’s be honest: who thought that Shane would have been a sole survivor?).
Then we come to the main event: Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar. Depending on your opinion, this was either a tremendous moment providing shock value almost to the level of Lesnar ending The Undertaker’s Streak at WrestleMania XXX or it was a complete disaster which damaged Lesnar’s reputation, partly due to that very Streak-snapping victory, and showed that WWE has his priorities wrong. I prefer to sit on the positive side of the fence because, undoubtedly, it created one hell of a buzz, and ensured that the eventual Goldberg-Lesnar rematch (presumably at WrestleMania 33) will be even bigger and, without question, longer.
The DVD includes two bonus matches from the Kick-Off Show: a six-man tag match from the Cruiserweight division, which gets a nice response from the Toronto crowd, and Kane vs. Luke Harper. There are also bonus segments, and the Blu-ray also throws in the Goldberg-Lesnar face-off on Raw six days prior to Survivors.
I should mention that like SummerSlam, and like the forthcoming Royal Rumble, the Survivor Series card lasts (or was meant to last) four hours, which obviously means a longer running time for the show than normal, but it also means that certain matches were clearly stretched out to last longer than usual in order to cover the extended running time. Having watched it in its entirety again, it’s clear that the show could easily have been squeezed into three hours had WWE gone down that route. And it probably would have been better if they had, as some matches were unnecessarily long (besides the men’s elimination match, since that succeeded partly because it went so long). Conversely, and ironically, the biggest complaint about Goldberg vs. Lesnar was that it didn’t last long enough.
Overall, though, one should really enjoy Survivor Series 2016 on DVD. The card as a whole may have worked better as a Network special rather than one of the “Big Four” PPV events, but there’s still plenty of good action to savour, with an outstanding elimination match and an unforgettable main event spectacle. Assuming you can take the show and just enjoy it for what it is, then this is a WWE DVD that you will probably want to own.
Overall Rating: 7.5/10 – Good