Survivor Series 2020 will forever go down as the show where the WWE Universe got to say goodbye to The Undertaker. Probably. It also featured some matches, with the now typical Raw Vs Smackdown theme (no NXT this year, and unlike others I think that was the right decision – nothing good would have come for the third brand here).
We kicked things off proper with the men’s Raw Vs Smackdown Survivor Series bout. AJ Styles, Keith Lee, Braun Strowman, Matt Riddle and Sheamus represented the red brand whilst Seth Rollins, King Corbin, Kevin Owens, Otis and Jey Uso represented blue. Of course no-one really buys into the show vs show concept in it’s own right anymore and it’s even more difficult when most concerned have been on both brands anyway. This wasn’t too bad and the, spoiler alert, clean sweep for Raw at least was a surprise. But once Rollins had given away his fall “for the greater good” there was a distinct pattern. Smackdown guy would go on a little spurt, then be walloped and put in his place by Team Raw. Maybe if we’re being kind it played into the Roman Reigns “head of the table” thing but although it was never an offensive match it was hardly very memorable.
The battle of the tag team champions was next as the New Day battled The Street Profits. The traditional problems of babyface vs babyface could be avoided with, essentially, no crowd and the two teams were able to tell a very good story. There was mutual respect, but there was also the sense that the New Day were using their experience to control the match, forcing the younger team to rally though to match them. And that they did, finishing off Woods with their Doomsday Blockbuster. In an ideal world this would have been a breakthrough victory for the Profits, but although nothing more was ever really made of it in that sense it remained a very good match all told.
Bobby Lashley and Sami Zayn couldn’t really follow that, although Zayn has to be commended for fully buying into the cowardly heel act which did offer up some entertainment as he spent most of the match trying to avoid Lashley and even tried to get the Hurt Business to attack him so he’d get the DQ decision. Beyond that though, it never really felt like a “Big Four” ppv match.
Asuka and Sasha Banks, on the other hand, did feel like one. Sure, the two have met before but the Champion Vs Champion setting made it feel even bigger and the two assembled a very good match which both harked back to their previous encounters and gave us new stuff too. Corey Graves was good on commentary too, noting the panic in Banks when escaping submissions as opposed to the calm when Asuka was doing the same. When promotions pay attention to the little things like that, it enhances the whole experience. A strong match, that could have been even stronger if given a few more minutes as it seemed to finish just before things were about to REALLY pick up. But still, a great match from two of the highlights of 2020 in the WWE.
The Women’s “Traditional Survivor Series” match followed next as Team Raw’s Nia Jax, Shayna Baszler, Lacey Evans, Peyton Royce and Lana took on Team Smackdown’s Bayley, Bianca Belair, Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan and Natalya. Given that her own team hated her (despite her being the only woman to “earn” her spot in the match in storyline terms, it was perhaps inevitable that Lana would make some kind of impression here. Being the sole survivor perhaps wasn’t what many hoped for. They tried to book this as a match that shook things up; Bayley, for instance, was first eliminated via a Peyton Royce pinfall. Does anyone even remember that now? Did anyone even remember it the day after the show? I thought the match, in terms of action, was rather good. But in the final analysis what did it achieve? It’s not as if Lana’s victory really led anywhere either. I’ve no problems with the result in that sense, but unless it really leads anywhere what impact could it ever have possibly had?
And so it was time for the main event, pitting Drew McIntyre against Roman Reigns in another of the card’s non-title champion vs champion matches. Their match at WrestleMania 35 was so average that I’d almost forgot it ever happened, but eighteen months or so on there was a real big match feel about this one. Which is hard to pull off when there’s no crowd in there. Still, Drew has been one of the standout performers of the year (and one of the few to really embrace a different style of presentation and promo in the no-crowd era) and Reigns’ heel turn has been a wonderful piece of business. The two put together a gripping, hard-hitting bout that presented both of them as deservedly being at the top of the tree. Even the finish, with a run in from Jey Uso, was understandable and made sense. You would hope that one day soon these two will go head-to-head again in front of a mega crowd and really get the opportunity to deliver some magic.
The show ended with the “final farewell” to the Undertaker. Really it was something and nothing. A bunch of his wrestling friends walked to the ring (why Kane was in full costume I’ll never know) before Vince McMahon cut an in-ring promo. The ring cleared, Undertaker came out for one last promo (honouring a Paul Bearer hologram in the process) and then left. It’s difficult to know what else they could have done but, at least presumably, Taker went out how he wanted to in that sense.
The kickoff show cross-brand Battle Royale is included. It’s not offensive but is pure filler.
An up and down show, when Survivor Series was good it was very good. McIntyre/Reigns was a great main event and it was ably supported by Banks/Asuka and New Day/Street Profits. The two Survivor matches weren’t the best from the history of the event but were watchable. And in that sense, nothing on the card sunk to the lowest depths. All told, a very enjoyable show.
8 out of 10.
Photographs courtesy of Fetch and WWE. Thank you to WWE Home Video for our review copy of Survivor Series 2020 which is out Monday 18 January on Bluray and DVD. You can buy your copy from WWEDVD.co.uk by clicking here.