WWE – Survivor Series 2020 (Cert 12)
1 Disc Blu-ray /2 discs DVD (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 206 minutes approx.
Release Date: January 18th
This is the one night of the year when RAW and SD… Sorry, I can’t do it, especially as this myth is demonstrably untrue. Case in point, on the last SD before this PPV Michael Cole made this very same claim then literally moments later they had an 8-man tag match featuring RAW tag champs the New Day facing four SD guys! No quality control whatsoever.
Making it worse was the fact they held a draft just a few weeks prior to this event, which meant we were supposed to believe those wrestlers who switched brands would suddenly become loyal to their new home of a few weeks? The concept might have sounded fun once upon a time but has since lost its meaning and with nothing at stake, has become an unnecessary booking handicap.
This meant that some of the champions vs. champions matches once again incurred a last minute title change, another thing that has become a cliché over the past few years regarding this event. At least most of the wrestlers had their working boots on and made an effort to offset the crummy booking.
But the big news heading into this show, despite being subtitled Best of the Best, was the retirement of The Undertaker, 30 years to the day after he made his WWF debut at Survivor Series 1990 as the mystery partner on Ted DiBiase’s team (full match included in the Blu-ray extras). What kind of send off will they put on for the Deadman and will he have some parting words for us before he closes the coffin lid on his career for good?
Held on November 22nd 2020 at the WWE Thunderdome located inside the Amway Centre in Orlando, Florida in front of virtual crowd seen via a bank of video screens, with added piped in crowd noises to create the impression of a hot crowd. Commentary is provided by Michael Cole and Corey Graves for SD and Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton and Samoa Joe for RAW.
Onto the matches and as always no results spoilers since the DVD/Blu-ray cover artwork has that bit covered but plenty of opinion.
Men’s Survivor Series Elimination Match – Team RAW (AJ Styles, Braun Strowman, Keith Lee, Matt Riddle, & Sheamus) vs. Team Smackdown (King Corbin, Kevin Owens, Seth Rollins, Jey Uso, & Otis)
As is the accepted formula for these matches now, neither team are able to get on with each other with Team RAW being the more dysfunctional of the two. Keith Lee and Sheamus have been at odds with other for a while, Braun Strowman seems to flit from face to heel because they were grooming him for Drew McIntyre until a injury derailed that, and everyone seems to hate AJ Styles, now paired with Omos, aka 7ft 3in Jordan Omogbehin.
On the other side, Seth Rollins was in a funk because of his losses to Buddy Murphy and the Mysterio family so he was as much use as a lead lifebelt to the team, so his quick exit was to write him off TV as wife Becky Lynch was about to give birth (and later had a daughter, Roux). The match itself was a mess of infighting and psychologically flawed action, the only part of the brand supremacy being relevant to Jey Uso as he was under orders from Roman Reigns to score a victory for SD. With the workers involved, this was a disappointment.
RAW Tag Champions vs. SD Tag Champions Match – The New Day (RAW) vs. The Street Profits (RAW)
Despite being on separate brands Big E came out with The New Day. Both teams were respective champions of the their brands when they were moved in the recent draft, so they simply switched the belts over, to continue their runs a champions without taking any losses.
Not that this had any impact on the match as they had a fun bout, both teams quite well matched up meaning moves galore and non-stop action. The piped in crowd noise was distracting from being so over the top and intrusive but the match was easy to enjoy, and again the brand wars aspect was largely a non-factor.
IC Champion vs. US Champion Match Threat Match – Sami Zayn (SD) vs. Bobby Lashley (RAW)
The last time these two faced off, Sami Zayn was the clear heel in what was one of the worst feuds of recent times that did less to get Lashley over as a face who was already floundering in that role at the time. Now they are both heels, but the Hurt Business has some form of slight cool vibe as a group of ass kickers, making Lashley the de facto face in this rather tedious and uneventful bout. At least it was short but still worthless.
WWE RAW Women’s Champion vs. SD Women’s Champion – Asuka (RAW) vs. Sasha Banks (SD)
These two clashed a lot over the summer, trading the RAW women’s title, until Bayley turned on Sasha to start a new feud, but now Sasha is the SD champ, she and Asuka go at one more time. Admittedly some of their previous bouts were a little better but this was still the best thing on the show thus far. Sasha played subtle heel but this was essentially a face vs. face match that even the brand wars farce couldn’t infringe upon and ruin.
By way of a breather is some more nonsense involving the 24/7 title which features another, less auspicious 30 year anniversary of a character who also debuted at Survivor Series 90. But, if you don’t wish to waste any brain cells on this garbage, you know where the skip button is…
Women’s Survivor Series Elimination Match – Team RAW (Shayna Baszler, Nia Jax, Lacey Evans, Peyton Royce & Lana) vs. Team SD (Bayley, Bianca Belair, Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan & Natalya)
This match had quite a storied journey in coming together. First, Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke but Rose suffered an injury so they write her out and Brooke too who wasn’t injured. Meanwhile on SD, Liv Morgan got in by accident when she won a four-way match that NXT call-up Chelsea Green was due to win, but she broke her wrist a minute into the match and they gave the win to Morgan instead, a week earlier than planned, then added Natalya as her replacement a week later
However, the big story is Lana’s involvement. When hubby Miro (FKA Rusev) arrived in AEW and cut the usual anti-WWE promo, Lana was punished by WWE by having Nia Jax slam her through the announce table on RAW every week. Then Vince thought this would make Lana a sympathetic babyface in the eyes of the fans so they had Shayna, Nia and everyone else on Team RAW bully Lana to quit.
Come this match, Lana was forced to stand on the outside and not get involved, leaving her team with a voluntary 4 on 5 disadvantage. This is important as it plays directly into the finish of what was otherwise a decent match that almost served as a star making turn for Bianca Belair, had it not been for the Lana story taking precedence.
WWE Universal Champion vs. WWE Champion – Roman Reigns (SD) vs. Drew McIntyre (RAW)
If you recall Randy Orton beat Drew for the WWE Tile at Hell In A Cell for reason that baffle most people but with this champ vs. champ match coming they decided to switch the title back to Drew to give us a clear face vs. heel dynamic. So what was the point of the title change? Answers on a postcard, though this isn’t exactly a precedent as they’ve switched a title every year since the duelling champs match was a thing.
These two had a mediocre match at Wrestlemania 35 but thankfully managed to eclipse that with this hard-hitting hoss fight to close the match portion of this PPV. I don’t anybody really cared about brand supremacy at this point, more keen on seeing two champs that were equally matched for once. With Roman now settled into his heel role and Drew the big tough babyface with a lot to prove, this was a pretty good match in the end.
There was a scary spot when the announce table didn’t break but they didn’t let that kill the momentum they had been steadily building. One can moan about the screwy finish but this was about the storytelling and in keeping with Roman’s character so it works on that front. As PPV main events go, this was definitely one of the stronger ones of 2020 though the competition isn’t that impressive.
Undertaker’s Final Farewell
Okay, this was weird, and I can’t even say that in a good way. First they brought out a number of “legends” and notable foes from Taker’s career – the usual suspects like HBK, Triple H, Mick Foley, Ric Flair, Kane, etc. and some of his behind the scenes friends like JBL, The Godfather, Savio Vega, and the Godwinns(!)
Then they ran a cool video package but when they came back only Vince McMahon was in the ring, looking like he had a ton of plastic surgery done to his face. Vince mumbled a few words, even breaking one of his own cardinal rules in saying “WWF” then introduced The Undertaker.
After sauntering to the ring amidst flames, mist, lightening, and a hydraulic lift so he rose to the ring rather than climb the steps, The Undertaker cut a quick promo saying it was time for him to Rest In Peace and he was sorry he couldn’t take Vince with him so we could get some decent booking again and run the company properly and not like a tyranny. Actually, he didn’t say that but it would have been cool if he did, I mean, it’s not like Vince could fire him right? And underwhelming send off all told, but at least he got one on the date of his debut which was fortuitous.
Survivor Series use to be one of my favourite WWF PPVs with the 4/5 man team elimination concept but ever since the 1992 edition which had just one of these matches, Vince has moved further away from this great concept. In fact, in 1998 and 2002 there wasn’t even one match like this (only a 6 man in 2002).
Over the past few years the RAW vs. SD battle for brand supremacy gimmick has driven the show, with the decision to pair off the champions of each show as well as two token elimination matches. A nice one off idea, it soon exposed its flaws when babyfaces were attacking other babyfaces just because they were on another show, or heels and faces who were feuding would stand side by side for the sake of their brand.
Last year there was interest in the NXT involvement but that was a serendipitous one off, now it is back to being a joke which this year’s instalment has probably emphasised that more than ever. As ever you can’t fault the wrestlers, they are just doing what is asked of them, though on this occasion, the farewell of The Undertaker eclipsed the matches as far as promotion went.
And what a bizarre and inconsequential segment it was too, but what Vince wants, the fans get …
Best match – Tie: Asuka vs. Sasha Banks / Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre
Survivor Series Kickoff Show Match – Dual-Brand Battle Royale
Survivor Series 22nd November 1990 – Debut Of The Deadman
Wrestlemania 36 – April 4th 2020 – Boneyard Match – Undertaker vs. AJ Styles
16 Page Undertaker Mini-Comic Book
Rating – ** ½
Man In Black