WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 2020 [Review]: One More ‘Last Ride’.

Here we go again…again.

Dave Beaudrie
@DaveBeaudrie

I’ve always enjoyed the idea of WWF/E’s Survivor Series. The original 4 or 5 man team concept was fun and they got creative in how the matches would play out, but nowadays they rely on a ton of tropes I can do without after 33 years of the damn things.

Following a stretch of Survivor Series events doing mostly away with the elimination matches, the current version finally hit its stride format-wise the last few years with two Raw vs Smackdown elimination tags and then the rest of the card Champion vs Champion on the two brands. That makes the event feel important and have stakes, even with the WWE being terrible about sticking to their own rules of the brand split, and it makes more sense at a major event like SS instead of a secondary throwaway like Battleground.

This years’ Thanksgiving Week Tradition marks yet another tribute to the Undertaker, who has had the longest retirement tour without any actual matches than anyone in any sport ever; but he’s awesome– so I’m not hating on it.

Sidenote: WWE’s Thunderdome is “award-winning” now? If Cuomo can be nominated for an Emmy for his Covid briefings, I guess anything’s possible…

Preshow: Raw vs. SmackDown Battle Royal – Every battle royal you’ve ever seen. If the booking on this thing were any lazier, 2K would turn it into a videogame. Miz gets tossed but doesn’t actually get eliminated. Comes back in at the end and eliminates Dominik Mysterio. Wow. Never seen that before. – 1/5

Men’s Team Raw vs. Men’s Team SmackDown – More paint-by-numbers storytelling — and those godammned colored t-shirts for the idiots at home — where Team Raw can’t get along, because apparantly they’re children and not trained professional athletes in a fight. I actually was enjoying this initially until Rollins tags in for SmackDown and dramatically kneels down and lets Sheamus Brogue Kick him into oblivion for…reasons?

(This is the perfect example of the writing team trying to be too cute for their own good. This is how they write Rollins off of TV so he can go home to his pregnant wife? Didn’t elevate or help anyone.)

Owens hits everyone with Stunners and immediately loses to AJ’s Phenominal Forearm in another trope in these matches. This had some good exchanges, with Otis being a standout. Ends up Jey Uso for SD against the entire Raw team. He loses to Keith Lee and Raw sweeps the match. Blah. – 2.5/5

The New Day vs. The Street Profits – I love the Street Profits when Vince isn’t writing their dialogie for atrocious backstage segments. Interesting thing with New Day is any great match they’ve had that I remember has been Kofi and Big E, while tonight we have Kofi and Xavier. Different dynamic, but all four delivered with classic tag-team storytelling that never fell into “stupid trope” territory. (See above.)

Montez Ford is a star. Great athleticism and story as Ford’s ribs were injured, so he couldn’t do an immediate pin after the frog splash and it cost him. He countered Kofi with his own Trouble in Paradise as well. Awesome. Profits win with a Doomsday Blockbuster. (Street Sweeper?) – 4/5

Bobby Lashley vs Sami Zayn – The heel vs. heel dynamic didn’t work here as Zayn did every cowardly heel trick he could to win by trying to force a Lashley DQ, but Lashley is unsympathetic and legitimately does outnumber Zayne with the Hurt Business at ringside, so who are we supposed to root for? Mostly a squash with Lashley submitting Sami, who is criminally underutilized. Zayn’s antics at least made it the best Lashley match I’ve seen. That’s something, right? – 2/5

Roman is angry at Jey Uso. THIS was the Roman we needed when he first left the Shield. Better late than never, I guess.

Asuka vs Sasha Banks – These two get three Bibles just by stepping in the ring with each other. They’re both so good that I’m immediately more invested than at any time in the show outside of several moments of Profits/New Day. They didn’t disappoint. Maybe not as “blow the doors off” awesome as their SummerSlam encounter, but still enjoyable start-to-finish with great psychology and an actual clean finish. Banks wins with a modified rollup, defeating The Empress one-on-one for the first time. Great stuff. – 4.25/5

Akira Tozowa traps the Gobbeldy Gooker to win the 24/7 title and gets flattened by R-Truth, who regains the belt. 6 Bibles. Greatest match in the history of our great sport.

Women’s Team Raw vs. Women’s Team SmackDown – God, what a mess. So Lana is supposed to be a sympathetic babyface, which she’s never done well, and her entire team hates her and don’t want her there. (Be a Star, WWE!) What little she does in the match is as awkward as a monkey fucking a football, and the much more talented women in the match have to carry her dead-weight to try to do something somewhat passable.

Bayley does a dive where everyone on the outside decides they have somewhere else to be, so she goes splat in a rough moment. She then gets pinned by… Peyton Royce? Bianca Belair and Shayna Bayzler were the big stars here to me, with some great athleticism and clever spots right up until Shayna got disqualified for being a moron.

I despise Nia Jax since she gives no shits about anyone else’s safety and when she and Lana are two of the focuses, the match gets dragged further down than what Bayzler and Belair can pull it out of. Screwy count out at the end means Lana, who has stood on the ringsteps crying for the majority of the match, is the Sole Survivor and she starts celebrating like she just body slammed Andre the Giant. And she’s the babyface? What the hell is happening? – 2/5 (3 Bibles for athleticism, 1 Bible for storytelling.)

Why is there no score tally for Raw vs Smackdown matches this year? This all lacks any sense of stakes.

Drew McIntyre vs. Roman Reigns – I had completely forgotten these two had a match at WrestleMania 35, and that match was just kinda there. What a difference a Covid makes. Drew is one of the only legit stars that WWE has properly elevated/treated seriously in recent times and Roman is finally what he always should have been, and it’s easily the best run of his career. They could realistically main-event Mania 37 minus a hail-mary Rock/Roman match, so I’m surprised they’re doing it here since I thought Orton had briefly won the Raw belt to avoid this confrontation.

As for the match, great, great stuff. They started slow, really built things up and told a story and that’s where Roman has excelled since his return, and McIntyre kept up with him in that regard. The heavy-hitting stuff felt earned, and while WWE does kick-outs of finishers way too often, it felt justified here with these two. Screwy finish made sense in this instance with a ref bump off a Claymore Kick and Uso interfering to help Roman pull it off. They’re primed for a rematch down the road should WWE pull the trigger on it. – 4.5/5

Goodbye, Undertaker. For the Last Time. Again. The Sequel – Taker’s had more retirements than Conor McGregor. A mish-mash of people come out (with full entrances) that are all connected to Undertaker somehow. Some will seem random to casual fans (The Godwins as an example) since they were tight with Taker in real life but never had any significant on-camera interaction with him. Even Kane was there, in the only time he’ll wear a mask these days…

Another video package, but WWE is always so good at these things so I’m here for it. (WWE could release an entire Blu-Ray of all the Undertaker career retrospectives they’ve done at this point.) Ring is now empty except for Vince, who announces Undertaker. Taker has the full entrance, and WWE turned the fan videoscreens into a virtual graveyard in a really cool visual. Paul Bearer appears in hologram form in a welcome surprise. Taker says a few words and walks out. Kind of anti-climactic, but what else could they do? If it meant something to Taker and he wanted to do it, he certainly earned it.

Matches = 2.75-3/5
Entertainment = 3.5/5

Overall: 3/5 Bibles

A couple great matches and some talented performers in otherwise disappointing matches slightly elevate Survivor Series 2020, with the Taker appearance not really affecting anything, but certainly not a waste of time either. I doubt it’s the last time we see Undertaker on WWE TV again, but he’s earned as many Last Rides as they want to give him.

-Dave Beaudrie

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