Courtesy of WWE Home Video, Matthew Roberts takes a look at the Survivor Series 2021 Blu-ray Release!
It’s a little pointless listing all the issues with the WWE’s annual “Brand Supremacy” theme for the Survivor Series. At this point, it is what it is. Even this year, the show’s proximity to the WWE Draft made the idea that wrestlers were here to passionately fight for their brand even more ludicrous. In some senses, the WWE seemed to acknowledge that. We didn’t even have a Raw Vs Smackdown scoreboard this year. And the (typically well done) opening video package seemed as much interested in plugging “Red Notice” (the new film of The Rock) as it did the show itself.
Still, that soon didn’t matter because we kicked things off with Women’s champions Becky Lynch and Charlotte clashing in a non-title match. With stories abounding about a backstage fallout for real (which was hinted at in the build-up but never specifically mentioned on air), there was an air of tension around this one that both women (and the WWE as a whole, promotional wise) capitalised on. This was (or at least seemed) stiffer than a lot of women’s matches on the main roster and that was a good move. Whilst the two were clearly “cooperating” with each other they went at it in such a manner that you could truly believe they hated each other. There’s nothing worse than a “grudge” match that begins fought in a traditional “lock up and then wrestle” manner. The action was great, as you’d expect from two of the best, and they kept you guessing until the end. Charlotte being caught “cheating” by the referee only for Lynch to get away with it with the old hands on the rope for leverage thing was perhaps a necessary evil as it allowed Charlotte a “get out” and Becky to remain, on paper at least, a heel. A great start.
Perhaps the only thing that could have followed that was up next as the men’s elimination match took place. Not because Team Raw (Seth Rollins, Bobby Lashley, Kevin Owens, Finn Balor & Austin Theory) and Team Smackdown (Drew McIntyre, Jeff Hardy, Sheamus, King Woods & Happy Corbin) had anything like a grudge match feel to it, but at least it was a lot of good, over and talented guys butting heads. It felt like an old school Survivor match at times (Owens deliberately getting himself counted out, Lashley & McIntyre doing the old double count-out routine) and certainly was an entertaining one once it picked up the pace. It might be a moot point now, but Jeff Hardy had the fan support in the closing stages but Seth Rollins was able to get the win and be the sole survivor.
The Pizza Hut battle royale was up next as 25 superstars battled because it was 25 years since The Rock debuted. (At various points in the show there were clips of some of the Rock’s finest moments). At least the guys got to wear the red/blue t-shirts to show their love for their respective brands. Omos won and that’s about all you need to know.
The battle of the respective tag team champions RK-Bro and The Uso’s couldn’t fail to improve on the last match and as expected it was a very solid and entertaining affair. Incidentally, Orton set a record here with his 177th WWE PPV match… It was a good back and forth with a great finish. You have to admire the WWE production for setting up these RKO’s “outta nowhere” so well.
The Women’s elimination match was up next as Team Raw (Bianca Belair, Rhea Ripley, Liv Morgan, Queen Zelina & Carmella) took on Team Smackdown (Sasha Banks, Natalya, Shayna Baszler, Toni Storm & Shotzi). The two teams had at least colour coordinated to show their pride in their brands. Unfortunately, the match was a little more than average. There seemed to be several timing issues in the early going and it all seemed to be a match to set up the “reward for jobbing in seconds at Summerslam” comeback from Belair who eliminated three women straight to become the sole survivor (and also coming back from the 4-on-1 odds before Banks was counted out). It was an “ok” match, nothing more.
And so it was time for the main event as WWE Champion Big E took on Universal Champion Roman Reigns. The two hadn’t clashed in the build-up all that much but I guess in a way Champion Vs Champion should sell itself. The match was a little slow to get going, but that was seemingly by design as it set up an increasing pace and a great finishing sequence. The Reigns win was perhaps not unexpected although the clean nature of it may have surprised some. Big E looked like he belonged as a main event star though, which was at least one thing.
The Blu-ray adds the kick-off match between Shinsuke Nakamura and Damien Priest (which is not available on the DVD version).
The idea of a “battle for brand supremacy” is hard to get behind for most fans so in a way the WWE choosing not to hammer that home during the event (as much as they usually would anyway) was a good thing. And if it, therefore, felt at times like there was nothing much at stake during the show that doesn’t change the fact that on their own merits the main event, the tag team match and the men’s elimination match were all very entertaining indeed. I could have done without all the nonsense on the show revolving around Vince McMahon and The Rock’s movie egg but sometimes you just have to accept that the WWE does some baffling, nonsensical things.
7 out of 10
Photographs courtesy of Fetch and WWE. Thank you to WWE Home Video for our review copy of the Survivor Series 2021 Blu-ray which is out Monday 10 January on Blu-ray and DVD. You can buy your copy from WWEDVD.co.uk by clicking here.