Saturday night’s WWE Survivor Series WarGames from the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts looked like one of the best pro wrestling events of the year.
Much of that credit goes to Sami Zayn’s script in the drama Bloodline and how it totally revitalized a unified Roman Reigns script that was stuck in purgatory.
The Honorary Uce was by far the centerpiece of the evening’s main event as The Bloodline (Reigns, Solo Sikoa, Zayn and The Usos) took on the mishmash of The Brawling Brutes (Sheamus, Ridge Holland and Butch) , Drew McIntyre and Kevin Owens.
It was, without exaggeration, one of the best modern tales of struggle to date.
The biggest lesson of the game? he goes hurt if and when The Bloodline turns on Zayn.
Saturday night events will play a huge role in this. And that’s probably the point. If WWE wants to capture the lighting in a bottle that was Daniel Bryan’s “Yes Movement” all those years ago, it’s obviously here with Zayn.
But even as a standalone thing, the WarGames match was a great storytelling treat. Zayn has had his tension-filled duels with Jey Uso. After close conversations with Reigns throughout the night, the Unified Champion still had a keen eye on things.
And there was a long, long reminder of the friendship between Zayn and Owens that was strong enough to make even the smartest fans wonder if the adopted Uso might be betraying his new family.
And while fans understand this big takeaway, there’s something to be said for the game’s sheer entertainment value.
Now there is the question of where things go from here and at what pace. Zayn will eventually realize that The Bloodline may not have any intention of keeping him around long term. Although they seemed to work things out, the Jey-Sami relationship continues to be volatile.
There’s also a real chance that Saturday night’s event will eventually lead to Zayn having a role in the main event of WrestleMania 39. Things are going so well on that front that he could be a dark horse to push people around. like Cody Rhodes and maybe even The Rock will step out of the limelight in ‘Mania’ season.
It’s worth pointing out that the WarGames match itself played a pivotal role here, as any other matchup in the Survivor Series wouldn’t have carried the same weight. That meant there were no silly “wrestlers hanging around” stuff for other story beats to happen. Some guys just weren’t allowed in the ring yet, for example.
The new man in charge of creation for about six months, Triple H, has given new prominence to the WarGames stipulation amid a host of other changes in WWE management.
The first WarGames match of the evening also benefited from the match type. First up was Team Belair (Bianca Belair, Alexa Bliss, Asuka, Mia Yim, and Becky Lynch) taking on Team Bayley (Bayley of Damage CTRL, Dakota Kai, and Iyo Sky, plus Nikki Cross and Rhea Ripley).
The match was a thriller with exceptional storytelling. Of course, more important was Lynch’s return as the team’s fifth member and working with, not against, Belair. But little things in this match, like planting the seeds of Lynch against Bayley and only Asuka’s haze being able to slow Ripley down, really showed respect for wrestlers and viewers alike.
Was the match an all-time classic that moved the needle dramatically? Absolutely not, but it was an entertaining affair that made more sense than the usual Survivor Series cobbled together matches. It made sense and the fallout will too.
It’s a step in revamping WWE’s pay-per-view program in a refreshing way. None of this works without a talent like Zayn in a starring role, but the creative type of match also really let his story unfold in a refreshing way.
Perhaps that’s understating the 38-year-old, the outright MVP of WWE’s main events scene right now (you can almost see that recognition on Reigns’ face, too). Few superstars can step in and do what he’s doing right now. He’s the guy, after all, who ruined (the right kind of ruined) a super serious segment recently in crack Reigns and the Usos during a live segment.
Paul Heyman himself, also slightly corpse in this segment thanks to Zayn, actually hit those notes on the adopted Uso during the post-event press conference.
“Sami brings a dynamic that none of us were prepared for, and we’re ready for anything,” he told reporters. “What Sami also brings is a connection with the audience that neither of us can have because we’ve been too busy being the best actor in the entire industry for over two years.”
That character and that range of storytelling — from goofy to serious WarGames match events — make Zayn a TV staple, and he carries Reigns and Co. with him. He’s invested, fans are invested, and Survivor Series 2022 will be most remembered for his moments.
It’s an unfathomable boost for a fresh WWE that hasn’t looked this great in a long time. On Saturday night, Zayn simply proved once again that he’s in control of the ship, even though the guy next to him is the so-called gold-wearing captain.