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Well, Zack is going to have to eat a little crow in this here column.
Back on October 28th 2020 in this very space, I ranted and raved for nearly 900 words about my disdain for Survivor Series and how the event ruins November for WWE fans around the world. Usually, it does.
Here comes the hedge. Before we go further, I valiantly hold to my argument that the Survivor Series concept is outdated, overly cute and confusing, and a relic of pro wrestling’s competitive past. It’s like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole in 2020.
Here comes the crow now and it tastes bitter. The build to this year’s Survivor Series show was better than I gave it credit for at the onset. Yes, we got silly and childish infighting between teams on both the men’s and women’s side of the house, but we didn’t get the traditional “rah, rah go brand” rhetoric that made eyes roll for years on end. Was the team bickering good? Not really. Are any of the participants more over because of it? No. It was more entertaining than years past, though, and for that I’m thankful.
The real intrigue for this year’s event comes in the form of the champion vs. champion matches, or, the best of the best matches as WWE Marketing proudly calls it. This year there is a nice slate of matches that pit credible champions against one another in a novel way that has been better framed as important than in years past. The biggest hook and draw for the 2020 go around for Survivor Series comes in the form of Universal Champion Roman Reigns against WWE Champion Drew McIntyre. This match was booked a bit hastily, but it’s been fresh and well put together in its haste. Reigns and McIntyre both have come across as big stars and seeing them collide sweetens up the at times archaic champion vs. champion idea. It’s also a stark reminder that the wrestling business is a business built on the backs of stars and no matter how much WWE wants to tell you otherwise, they are the draw. Sunday is a key example of that fact.
Alas, the crow is finished. We’ll see if they can keep the positive momentum around the event next year. Call this a preview, a calm look into the distant future, or a gaze into a wondrous crystal ball; just don’t hold me to anything, ok?
Sasha Banks vs. Asuka – Women’s Champion vs. Champion Match
Well, this certainly isn’t a fresh match. It’s a classic match, though, and for that reason I like it. On an event like Survivor Series that grasps at some straws in terms of building stories, why not go back to the oldie, but goodie. Think throwing on a TV show on that you’ve seen 15 times to ease anxiety during a pandemic. It’s comfortable. That’s this match. Banks and Asuka will deliver like they always do, but the end game will be the match serving as a means to an end to further enhance Banks vs. Bayley. I see Bayley getting involved here and costing Banks her win. Asuka gets a slight boost, but Banks isn’t hurt much either. Win, win.
Bobby Lashley vs. Sami Zayn – Intercontinental Champion vs. United States Champion Match
If Bobby Lashley wasn’t a babyface before this match, he’ll certainly be one after it. Why? Sami Zayn is a next level heel. He’s obnoxious beyond belief and enhances the cool factor of Hurt Business Bobby Lashley tenfold. That’s the match formula we’ll see play out, too. I’m looking for Zayn to annoyingly run from Lashley and shine him up in the process. Lashley’s cool factor will ooze and he’ll strike at the opportune moment when Zayn’s guard is down. Both guys should bring out the best in one another in terms of character. It’s the Lashley character that needs the credibility a win would bring and he’ll get it.
A.J. Styles, Sheamus, Braun Strowman, Keith Lee, & Riddle vs. Kevin Owens, Jey Uso, King Corbin, Seth Rollins, & a mystery opponent – Men’s Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Match
This is a mess. Top to bottom it’s a mess, but it’s been better than god awful thanks to the fact that we’ve had less invasion and passionate corporate-speak about brand. The Raw team has acted like high schoolers in a crowded lunch room arguing, but it’s a weak story that gets a slight pass due to what it isn’t. The Smackdown side is more intriguing. With Jey Uso at the helm, I’m expecting fireworks. I’m also expecting his character will gain more confidence under Roman’s tutelage, by leading his team to victory over the discombobulated Raw team.
Nia Jax, Shayna Baszler, Lacey Evans, Peyton Royce, & Lana vs. Bianca Belair, Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan, & two mystery opponents – Women’s Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Match
Lana needs to be the sole survivor. Right? Right. That has to be where this going through tables nonsense leads. I could paste a lot of my commentary about the men’s match right here. This is a mess. These women sound like children arguing over Legos at a daycare facility. Give me a Bianca Belair and Shayna Baszler stare down during the match and maybe it will be worth it. Nah, I can’t go that far, but I do expect a nice spot between the two as an ode to their NXT history. It’s all about Lana though. She stands tall at the end much to her surprise.
The New Day vs. The Street Profits – Tag Team Champion vs. Champion Match
The babyface vs. babyface dichotomy works between these two teams. My expectation is that we see a straight up match between these guys so as to further entrench both as the good guys of their brand. That is, until the ending. Patience isn’t something WWE typically has a lot of. So, they’ll play the Big E card early and have him get involved in the match on behalf of his New Day partners.
Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre – Men’s Champion vs. Champion Match
My match of the night pick. Reigns and Drew have both come across as major alpha’s during the quick build to this. Their star power has overcome the lack of story and its led to a big fight feel. For as important as Drew McIntyre is, Reigns can’t and won’t lose this match. His run as a heel has been successful critically and analytically within the numbers. Even WWE wouldn’t think of tinkering with that impact. They’ll keep Reigns strong here and they’ll do it by Drew’s next challenger costing him the bout. Sheamus, The Fiend, Randy Orton. Step right up. Reigns is the focus and deservedly so. WWE needs to fight their intense urges and not get cute. Give him the win he needs and move on. Drew will be just fine.
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