TORONTO -- It took nearly one full hour and a handful of wild turns to get there, but SmackDown Live was the last team standing on Sunday in a battle for brand supremacy against Raw at WWE Survivor Series.
Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt proved to be the "sole survivors" in a 5-on-5 men's traditional Survivor Series match at Air Canada Centre, joining teammates AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose and Shane McMahon in a victory over Raw's Kevin Owens, Chris Jericho, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Braun Strowman.
Among the SmackDown Live faithful, WWE world champion Styles received far and away the biggest reaction, while Jericho and WWE Universal champion Owens were welcomed with almost deafening cheers from their home crowd in Canada.
Owens was the clear choice to start for Raw, and after a bit of a debate, it became a battle of world champions, as Styles of SmackDown stepped into the ring across from him. It quickly broke down into an exchange of punches in the middle of the ring, but with this being such an early stage of the match and so much time to work with, there wasn't seemingly much at stake.
The crowd erupted after Owens tagged in his "best friend" Jericho (and hugged him in the ring to boot), and everything Jericho did was met with raucous applause. We then got a brief tease of Rollins versus Styles before he tagged out to set up a Shield reunion of sorts between Rollins and Ambrose that went to a stalemate.
That was the case for much of the early stages of this match, with everyone except the current and former members of The Wyatt Family getting into the mix. It was all about setting the tone and pace, but a mid-ring confrontation and a complete breakdown started the build to the more eventful parts of the match -- highlighted by Owens' top-rope Swanton onto all of his fellow competitors and teammates.
Teammates (and SmackDown rivals) Styles and Ambrose threw down in the middle of the ring, failing to put the team above themselves, and the result was a running powerslam from Braun Strowman on Ambrose for the first elimination of the night, which temporarily deprived fans of a true Shield reunion in the ring. Wyatt briefly grabbed a psychological hold on Strowman -- his former Wyatt Family prodigy -- causing him to grab Jericho by the throat. But any indications of a return to the Wyatt Family soon faded.
Orton hit another highlight-reel moment with an RKO (out of nowhere) on Strowman onto a table, and then he and Wyatt laid Strowman down onto it for a signature Shane McMahon moment -- a flying elbow from the top rope onto Strowman, causing the table to break. The impact of the move ultimately led to Strowman's count-out elimination, which was aided by SmackDown "mascot" James Ellsworth climbing under the ring and holding Strowman's feet. An angry Strowman sought instant revenge by throwing Ellsworth off the stage at the top of the ramp and through a table of his own.
Things slowed down again during the four-on-four sequence, with McMahon taking the bulk of the beating. A seemingly innocuous run by Styles to attack Owens led the Universal champion to hit Styles with "The List," followed by a pop-up powerbomb. The action led Owens to be eliminated by disqualification and caused Jericho to lose his mind trying to re-assemble the remnants of his precious "List." This distraction kept Jericho's attention long enough to be pinned following another RKO. In the blink of an eye, it was down to Rollins and Reigns against four members of Team SmackDown.
The sudden loss of both Canadians in the match took something out of this Toronto crowd, and it didn't recover fully until they got a chance to wholeheartedly boo Reigns at every possible turn. A temporary distraction nearly caused McMahon to eat a spear from Reigns. Instead, McMahon set Reigns up for a Coast-2-Coast. But Reigns leaped up to catch McMahon with a flying spear in a move that looked like it should have led to a three-count, but with McMahon seemingly knocked out cold, his shoulder wasn't flush on the mat. Moments later he was deemed eliminated by knockout as the referee motioned for medical attention, taking something away from the impact of the moment as the crowd worried about McMahon's health.
With McMahon carried to the back, the match resumed 3-on-2, but not without the crowd blaming Reigns for McMahon's injury with a loud chant. In fact, it took Rollins' superplex-Falcon Arrow combination for them to properly get back into the match. Ambrose got his revenge from earlier in the match by running back out and striking down Styles. As security went to go break it up, we got a true Shield reunion as Reigns and Rollins convinced Ambrose to do the first Shield triple powerbomb with all three men on the same page (there was one other instance, during a Fatal 4-Way match for the WWE championship on Orton, while Rollins was still part of the Authority) since their breakup almost two-and-a-half years ago. Rollins subsequently pinned Styles in the middle of the ring.
With two members of each team remaining, a Shield versus Wyatt Family showdown broke out for the remainder of the match, with Luke Harper making an appearance of his own. The crowd was largely still conflicted -- excited about a temporary Shield reunion, but upset about the way the story around it went down. Harper took out Reigns, but Rollins neutralized Harper with a flip over the top rope.
Rollins went for a springboard dive, when Orton hit his third elimination-inducing RKO of the match -- this time with Rollins already in mid-air. It was very much a three-on-one effort from there, and while Reigns managed to take out Harper on the outside, Orton cemented his status within The Wyatt Family when he shoved Wyatt out of the way and absorbed a spear. Wyatt hit a Sister Abigail on Reigns for the three-count, sealing Team SmackDown's win and finally earning a signature career victory after a seemingly endless run of defeats in high-profile contests.
For full match recaps and ratings from Survivor Series, click here.