The 36th annual Survivor Series, presented by the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), occurred this past Saturday. The event was held at Allstate Arena in Chicago, Illinois. The five-match card was met with an electric crowd ready to explode at any point.
The show began with the highly anticipated Women’s Wargames match. Team Bianca, consisting of Bianca Belair, Becky Lynch, Shotzi and Charlotte Flair, took on opposing Damage Control members in Asuka, Kairi Sane, Iyo Sky and Bayley. The match was hard-hitting, to say the least. One of the most memorable moments in the match was when Sky put a trash can over herself and jumped from the top of the Wargames structure onto all members of Team Bianca. Moments later, without any props, Flair hit a moonsault from the top of the structure, taking out Damage Control. Bayley was able to save the match for her team numerous times but was cornered by members of Team Bianca, resulting in Bayley going through a table as a result of a Lynch “manhandle slam” and securing the win for her team.
The next match was for Gunther’s prestigious Intercontinental title. Eight-time champion The Miz looked to knock off the longest-reigning intercontinental champion of all time. It was violent, with both superstars trading loud, ear-piercing strikes and chops. The Miz had a counter for nearly all of Gunther’s moves and had the crowd on their feet, thinking they were about to see a title change. Miz went to the well for his “skull-crushing finale” finish one too many times and got caught and reversed into a “Boston Crab’ submission, forcing the Miz to tap out reluctantly. This resulted in Gunther retaining the intercontinental title via submission.
Up next was the Women’s World Title match between the upstart challenger Zoey Stark and dominating defending champion Rhea Ripley. Ripley has held the title since April, and none of her challengers have even looked like threats. Stark, a new talent from NXT, shined inside the ring with her athletic ability. This was one of the cases in which Stark bit off more than she could chew. Ripley made quick work of the challenger in under 10 minutes, hitting her famous “Riptide” for the win. Ripley retained the Women’s World title by pinfall.
The final singles match of the night was between the “new and improved” attitude of Santos Escobar vs. Dragon Lee, who, in the storyline, stepped in on short notice due to the attack by Escobar on his original opponent, Carlito. Escobar and Lee put on a classic match. High-flying moments mixed in with reversals made the two Lucha Libre stars look very strong throughout the match. Out of nowhere, Escobar was able to land his “Phantom Driver” and pick up the win against Lee.
The most anticipated match of the night was the main event. Team Cody took on Team Judgement Day inside the WarGames structure. Members of Team Cody included Cody Rhodes, Sami Zayn, Jey Uso, the World Heavyweight Champion, Seth Rollins, and the returning Randy Orton, who was set to make his first appearance in 18 months after double fusion back surgery. In the storyline, all Team Cody members wait anxiously for their fifth member, who is nowhere to be found, to arrive. Fast forward to the match: as the clock hit zero, Orton was supposed to come out but didn’t.
Instead, Ripley came sprinting out with the briefcase belonging to the leader of Judgement Day, Damian Priest. They intended to cash in the contract on Seth Rollins inside WarGames, but that attempt was halted when Orton’s music finally hit, and the place erupted. Orton hit a huge RKO on J.D. McDonagh from the top of WarGames before handing Priest to Rhodes to hit the “Cross Rhodes” and secure the victory for the good guys. As the credits began to roll, the famous Cult of Personality beat hit, which could only mean one thing… for the first time in nearly a decade, C.M. Punk had returned to the WWE. The Chicago crowd went ballistic at the return of the hometown hero who swore he’d never, ever return. The following night, he would go on to say, “Hell has frozen over, but I’m home.”