Survivor Series Review
Out of WWE’s four big pay-per-views, Survivor Series is generally the least interesting. The traditional matches are fine. And making it brand champions versus brand champions adds an interesting dimension. But it still comes in a distant fourth to SummerSlam, WrestleMania and Royal Rumble.
The 2019 edition of Survivor Series actually bucked the trend by including NXT in many of the matches. The NXT teams and champions even won five of the 10 matches taking place on the pre-show and pay-per-view. But after last year’s push, NXT was nowhere to be seen.
Online rumors have been running rampant for months that Vince McMahon is unhappy with NXT’s performance against AEW. This may have contributed to them being left out of this year’s Survivor Series event. It was a bad choice on WWE’s part as adding NXT talent into the mix would have made the evening more engaging.
Even without them, it was a solid pay-per-view with good matches. This was in no small part due to having solid champions holding each of the defended belts. It made for good matchups, some of them brand new and others that have always proven to be reliable.
That being said, the return of the Gobbledy Gooker was unexpected. So was him winning the 24/7 Championships. Fortunately, R-Truth got his baby back before the end of the pay-per-view. No one could have handled a long title run from a guy in a turkey suit.
18-Man Dual Brand Battle Royale
This was the only pre-show match this year. Last year, there were three. The Battle Royale was included to offset the large amount of talent not on the card. While it wasn’t the best pre-show match ever, at least it didn’t waste time on the main card.
It was a typical Battle Royale, starting off with all the competitors in the ring. The only way to be eliminated was to go over the top rope, then have both feet touch the floor. It’s WWE’s go-to move when they have nothing else to use wrestlers for.
The ultimate winner of the match was The Miz who eliminated Dominik Mysterio last. Given that Miz picked up the Money in the Bank briefcase on the last pay-per-view, it doesn’t seem like he needed the win. John Morrison would have been a better choice.
Men’s Survivor Series Match
The first of two Survivor Series matches opened the show. The men’s team from Raw took on the men’s team from SmackDown. With Braun Strowman, Keith Lee and Sheamus on board, Team Raw appeared to have an advantage over their opponents going into the match.
That advantage played out as Raw swept SmackDown five to nothing. The Raw men’s team didn’t lose a single member. Jey Uso was the last man standing for SmackDown, and he gave one hell of a fight. But Keith Lee put him down and got the final pinfall to end the match.
SmackDown was behind the proverbial eight ball after Seth Rollins tagged in. He was the first man eliminated from the match after sacrificing himself to Sheamus. Fire Face, as Riddle nicknamed him, was more than happy to take the easy pinfall.
Regardless of the loss, Otis, Kevin Owens and Jey Uso all looked great in the match. Keith Lee put on his usual brilliant performance, even entering to brand new slick music. He came out of this pay-per-view looking like a future champion.
The New Day Versus The Street Profits
Without question, The New Day will go down in history as one of the best tag teams of all time. And the Street Profits are also certainly on their way to the same level. The champions of their respective brands faced each other for the first time at Survivor Series. Hopefully, it won’t be the last time.
This may have been the best tag team match in WWE in all of 2020. Both teams brought their A-games, pulling out all of the stops in what quickly turned into a high octane match. It reminded fans of how good all four wrestlers truly are.
The Street Profits pulled out the victory, which was the right call. They are still building their rep as a team, and this was a key piece of that process. Plus, the show of respect between both teams to close out the bout was incredibly refreshing.
Bobby Lashley Versus Sami Zayn
On paper, the Intercontinental Champion was at an extreme disadvantage against the United States Champion. But that’s because Bobby Lashley is a tank with back up while Sami Zayn is a lonely three-speed bicycle.
Still, this was a decent match though not a standout of the evening by any stretch of the imagination. It was mostly Sami trying to stay out of Bobby’s way. Then, the rest of The Hurt Business would keep him from leaving and the beating would continue.
To their credit, The Hurt Business never got involved in the match despite Zayn trying to antagonize them into it. They just kept Sami from cheating, which would have been the only way he could have credibly beaten Lashley.
Asuka Versus Sasha Banks
Putting two of the greatest female competitors in the history of the WWE against each other is always a smart move. That’s an easy recipe for a great match. Survivor Series was no exception to this as Asuka and Banks put on another classic.
The last time they met, Asuka was beating Sasha for the Raw Women’s Championship at SummerSlam. A lot has changed in Banks’ life since then, mainly ending her association with Bayley and winning the SmackDown Women’s Championship from her.
WWE has been on a mission to make this the definitive title reign of Banks’ main roster career. She successfully defended the title against Bayley, something she was never able to do during her five reigns as the Raw Women’s Champion. This also included finally defeating Asuka cleanly.
It was a great match, one that Asuka was obviously upset to lose. The rumor that Asuka is on the verge of a heel turn has been floating around for a while. This loss might be the beginning of that change for her.
Women’s Survivor Series Match
Much like the men’s team from Raw, the women’s team was at a distinct advantage. This was thanks to Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler. But SmackDown had its own ace in the hole by the name of Bianca Belair.
This bout went through some changes thanks to injuries to Chelsea Green and Mandy Rose, which also removed Dana Brooke from the match. Suddenly, Liv Morgan, Peyton Royce and Lacey Evans found themselves with a big opportunity.
The big story of the match was Team Raw treating Lana like crap for more than two months leading up to Survivor Series. Nia Jax kept putting her through the announcer’s desk. There were only two possible reasons for this. Either WWE was punishing her for her husband, Miro, going to AEW. Or WWE was setting her up as the sole survivor.
Fortunately for Lana, she turned out to be the sole survivor, bringing the win to Raw. Admittedly, she won by default. Lana was standing on the steps when Belair and Jax were counted out. But a win is a win is a win.
The downside of this match was it was booked solely to put Lana in this position. As such, everything happened to make it work out that way. Hopefully, there’s some reason for that in the coming weeks as it would have been nice to see Belair get her hand raised.
Drew McIntyre Versus Roman Reigns
It wasn’t that long ago that this match was scheduled to be Randy Orton versus Roman Reigns. But in a surprise move, Randy lost the WWE Championship he had only recently taken off of McIntyre to that same former owner.
McIntyre losing the belt to Orton in the first place made little sense. Randy had lost two big pay-per-view matches to McIntyre already. The need for a third match simply wasn’t there. Orton is a great wrestler but fans were not invested in him as the champion, and less interested in watching him face Roman Reigns.
But putting the belt back on McIntyre made sense. Fans are behind him, and he was a better opponent for Reigns at Survivor Series. Instead of heel champ versus heel champ, fans got face champ versus heel champ. It worked better from every perspective.
It was a hard-hitting match between two top dogs that did not disappoint. Ultimately, Reigns won thanks to a low blow and a superkick from Jey Uso. This match proved WWE made the right choice to put these two in the ring together.
Celebrating The Undertaker at Survivor Series
November 22nd, 1990. This remains one of the most infamous dates in WWE history. It was on that day 30 years ago at Survivor Series that fans got their first look at a wrestler called The Undertaker. No one had any idea that they were witnessing the beginning of the most celebrated gimmick in the history of the business.
No one protected kayfabe the way Undertaker has. Mark Calaway lived and breathed his character for the vast majority of that time, only recently starting to let people behind the curtain. It’s actually weird to see him not portraying The Undertaker.
With this being the 30th Anniversary of The Undertaker’s debut, WWE used Survivor Series as a platform to celebrate his career. Multiple superstars he had legendary matches with came down to the ring. That included Glenn Jacobs who joined the festivities in gimmick as Kane.
The event also included a video package filled with 30 years of highlights as well as interviews with wrestlers who weren’t there like Steve Austin and John Cena. Conspicuous by his absence was Brock Lesnar, the man who ended the legendary WrestleMania streak. But contract and travel issues likely kept him away.
After that, Vince McMahon introduced The Undertaker. Mark Calaway walked down to the ring in gimmick for the final time. He gave a short speech, struck the iconic kneeling pose and Paul Bearer appeared on the big screen. After a few moments, he made his way up the ramp and out of the WWE ThunderDome, stopping only to throw one last fist in the air.
While it would have been nice for this to have happened in front of a large stadium crowd, it had to happen at that moment. It felt like a fitting tribute to one of the greatest careers in wrestling history. Only time will tell if this retirement holds.