Is it just me or is it weird to dedicate a segment to your pay-per-view event to showcase the retirement of one of your biggest Superstars? I know the Undertaker is a big deal in the WWE and the wrestling fandom as a whole but it still feels very surreal to do this during Survivor Series, where the main event are supposed to be the, y’know, the Survivor Series matches.
Of course I do realize it’s because the Deadman made his debut in the 1990 Survivor Series show a whole 30 years ago, making it his pearl anniversary with the WWE. I am both sad to see him finally go but also glad he’s finally retired as he does deserve a break away from the squared circle already.
So, let’s go start this review of the 2020 Survivor Series with what is the “main attraction” this year, the Undertaker’s farewell. Sad to say, it was kind of a bust. At over 30 minutes long, the Undertaker’s farewell was overstuffed with nonsensical stuff. I can understand why the walk down the ramp was long; it’s an Undertaker staple and shows how dramatic his ring entrance is. I can even accept the substantial video package the WWE put together featuring the Phenom’s decades long career.
What I don’t get was the parade of WWE’s past and present Superstars parading into the ring for no reason. I get a lot of them, like the Godfather, Savio Vega and HOG and PIG, are best buds of Mark Calaway, the man behind the Undertaker, and some of them had epic matches with the Undertaker. However, they just disappeared after all of them jumped in in the ring! What was the point of all that? Also, respectfully, some of them, like Jeff Hardy and The Big Show, felt out of place.
What even was more disappointing was the speech the Undertaker made after he made that long saunter into the ring. His speech wasn’t even 2 minutes long! One of the best promo men in the WWE was only given a measly few minutes to give his farewell speech to the business! What a gyp!
To say I expected more from the Undertaker’s farewell at Survivor Series is an understatement. With all the hype they made about this being his final show in the WWE (at least until Saudi Arabia comes a-knocking wanting him to be in their next show anyway), I was looking forward to something a little more epic.
Anyway, let’s move on to what’s usually the “main event” of each Survivor Series show, the Survivor Series matches with both RAW and Smackdown teams pitted against each other. They had 2 of them this year, one for the men’s division and one for the women’s division. I will say I was more invested with the Women’s Survivor Series as there was more of a story here. Well, if you can consider Nia Jax and Shayna Bazzler bullying Lana a story. It does kind of pay off at the end here, though.
There were some really good spots here but things did feel overly structured at times. Some of the moves, especially when Peyton Royce was doing her kicks, looked a little too graceful to have any real power behind them. Don’t get me wrong! I love Peyton Royce to bits but I do wish she would rely less on spinning kicks and either more straightforward strikes or technical wrestling. Still, that superplex to the outside looked really wicked, even if they took ages to set up properly.
The eliminations after that superplex came very briskly after that big spot, which I don’t like as it seems like they had to rush through the match after that one big spot. I actually liked Bazzler getting eliminated by disqualification as she didn’t relinquish her Kirifuda Clutch on Bianca Belair. This did give her tag team partner, Nia Jax, a huge advantage over Belair at that point. Even so, Jax couldn’t get the job done as Belair and Jax were counted out… leaving Lana, who was bullied into not tagging in as the sole survivor of the Women’s Survivor Series match!
The ending, with Lana being the sole survivor for the RAW team is basically a joke finish. However, it’s because of Nia Jax endlessly putting her through the announce table in previous weeks that makes it work, at least for me. Otherwise, this was a very, very plain Survivor Series match. No real highlight which will make me remember it in a month or so.
The Men’s Survivor Series match, however, is something I’ll remember but not for the right reasons. For once, I’ll talk about the result first because, well, that’s why I’ll remember it. RAW won over Smackdown in a rout. There wasn’t one member who was eliminated from the RAW team! I really hate it when that happens because it makes the other team, Smackdown in this case, look weak. Heck, I don’t even understand why Seth Rollins got eliminated like this! I get he’s supposed to be the Messiah and he’s “sacrificing” himself or something… but it didn’t do anything in the long run!
I guess the proper finish was kinda cool. Jey Uso was the only one left on the Smackdown team and he tried to go on a run. However, after attempting a splash on AJ Styles, Keith Lee snatches the samoan out of the air and connects with a Spirit Bomb for the pinfall victory. Even with the show of power on Keith Lee’s part, having team Smackdown lose all of its members to RAW’s team without anyone getting eliminated from the red brand makes the blue brand come off as weak.
Jey Uso being the last surviving member of Smackdown does come into play during the match which pitted WWE Champion Drew McIntyre against the Universal Champion Roman Reigns. This was a surprisingly good and well put together match. Both Reigns and McIntyre showed off why they deserve to be on the top of the mountain of Smackdown and RAW, respectively. The two powerhouses really showcased both their in-ring skills as well as their selling ability.
The finish, while admittedly cheap as to keep both stars looking strong, makes sense from a storytelling perspective. It looked like the Scottish Warrior was going to win after connecting with a Claymore kick to the Tribal Leader but Reigns inadvertently knocked out the official. This gave Jey Uso to run from the back and try to strike the WWE Champ. McIntyre got ahead of it, though and beat the Uso away. However, the distraction allowed Reigns to sneak in a low blow and also had Jey connect with a superkick. Reigns then comboed a superman punch into a guillotine headlock. McIntyre passes out and Reigns reigns at the end. Reigns accepts Jey Uso’s help and they hug near the entrance.
This was a barn burner of a match. Even at more than 20 minutes, this didn’t feel long at all. Every moment felt like there was a purpose to it and I couldn’t really think of a genuine slow moment. I even like the finish as it continues the entire Tribal Leader Reigns and Jey Uso has going on. Really good match.
While the “heavyweight” champions put on a good match, I can’t say the same for the mid-card title holders’s match, which had Intercontinental Champion Sami Zayn go against the United States Champion Bobby Lashley. This was odd because, while I know Sami Zayn is a heel, I’m not so sure about the Hurt Business. I think they’re heels as well? So this is a rare heel vs. heel match! Unfortunately, this does make it so I can’t really blame them for doing heelish things, like Sami trying to run away or feigning vertigo while the rest of the Hurt Business trying to intimidate Sami Zayn. Umm, who’s the bad guy here? Both of them? It’s very confusing and I just couldn’t get invested.
The finish came with Zayn trying once more to retreat to the back but tripped over MVP’s foot. Zayn tried to get the referee to disqualify Lashley due to MVP’s outside interference. When that didn’t work, Lashley distracted the official, leading to MVP tossing Zayn inside the ring (which should be a DQ, by the way) and one Hurt Lock full nelson later, Zayn taps out. This was a no-brainer and it was obvious from the start Lashley was going to win, especially with the Hurt Business getting a much bigger push than Zayn. Still, I did wish Sami Zayn did a few dirty tactics to keep the match interesting.
While the heel vs. heel match was bad, the first face vs. face match at this year’s Survivor Series was more than decent. The RAW tag team champs, the New Day, took on Smackdown champs, the Street Profits. These are both very likable teams and seeing them go at it was beautiful. The action took some time to build up, but when it did, was very fast paced and the moves just seemed to flow well. What’s even more amazing is that everyone really looked good, even if this was their first time in the ring together!
The finish saw Montes Ford ducking a Trouble in Paradise attempt by Kofi Kingston and nailing one of his own! A gutbuster by Woods on Ford but Ford manages to kick out. Woods then attempts a superplex but Ford manages to get the blind tag to Dawkins, which then had Dawkins carry Woods on his shoulders with an electric chair while Ford did a blockbuster to Woods. 3 seconds later and the Street Profits manage to raise their hands in victory.
Like I said, this was a really good match between two really incredible teams. I do miss Big E’s antics but this does allow Xavier Woods to show more of his stuff in the ring now. The Street Profits also proved they’re more than just a comedy act as they really showed they can wrestle as well.
As good as the tag team match was, the match of the night for me was the RAW Women’s Champion Asuka taking on Smackdown’s Women’s Champion Sasha Banks. Yes, this is technically another face vs. face match, actually! This just so happens to also pit two of my favorite in-ring performers against each other. Thankfully, I was not disappointed! Lots of good back and forth between the two champions and, for once, Sasha Banks looked like she was on the same tier with Asuka move for move!
I will say I was rather disappointed with the finish. Basically, Sasha Banks defeated Asuka with the most devastating move in the WWE: the rollup. I get they didn’t want any either Asuka or Banks to lose in a way to make any of them look weak. I just think doing the rollup finish is the cheap way out. In fact, just have Banks do something like a backstabber and get the clean 3-count with Asuka just not able to kick out in time. Despite the rather lame finish, I really enjoyed this match. I guess a lot of it is because I do enjoy a good Asuka or Sasha Banks match so I may be heavily biased here.
All-in-all, this year’s Survivor Series was just okay. None of the matches, even the Asuka and Sasha Banks one, really stood out. Even the Undertaker’s farewell address fell flat overall. It was a good show but nothing to really write home about.
What did you think of this year’s Survivor Series? Let me know in the comments section below!