With only one PPV left in 2020, did WWE manage to deliver on a night where Raw clashed with SmackDown and the wrestling world said goodbye to one of the best of all time?
Survivor Series also marked the final PPV event in the ThunderDome’s current location of the Amway Center in Orlando. Moving within Florida to baseball stadium Tropicana Field, the production will no doubt be just as top class and keep fans on their toes.
King Of The Ring, Andy Spoors, delivers his verdict on the action and, as always, pulls no punches…
It’s a lazy take to say WWE has struggled with its programming during the global pandemic this year. It’s also simply untrue. Like all businesses around the world, the company has had to adapt and overcome.
As countries got to grips with social distancing, WWE put stock and emphasis on cinematic matches. Adapt. When conditions were allowed to ease up, they invested in the state of the art ThunderDome, allowing fans to be present in some capacity. Overcome.
With the latter approach came a new attitude for the Superstars appearing each week. The action inside the ring stepped up another level. Storylines became, for the most part, grounded in reality. SmackDown floundered for months before finding its footing again to become a must-see show each week.
Which is why Survivor Series came around at the right time for all involved. A chance for Raw to show they can hang with a brand that has stolen the headlines in recent months. A chance for SmackDown to put some emphasis on their recent popularity.
Kicking off proceedings, the men’s 5 on 5 elimination match painted a completely different type of picture. Somewhat tone deaf to the current popularity of the blue brand, Raw completed a clean sweep, eliminating all five of the SmackDown team without answer.
Sure, it makes the Monday night flagship show look strong, but does very little for the legitimacy of the five men beaten in a row.
There is an argument that Raw needed this kind of win way more than SmackDown but disappointingly it isn’t the first time Raw has flexed its muscles over its sister show.
A completely different type of win followed later in the night for the women’s Raw team, as Lana emerged the sole survivor in comical fashion.
Again, that result did little for the majority of the 10 women involved but it at least made sense after weeks of Lana being belittled for her wrestling ability and put through the commentary table time and time again.
Despite having faced off against each other throughout the Summer months, Asuka and Sasha Banks put on a clinic. When champions face off against each other there is a worry that one can look weaker in the process. Unfortunately, this feels true for Asuka.
Undoubtedly talented, the ‘Empress of Tomorrow’ is almost a victim of her own success. Running through virtually the entire locker room, there doesn’t feel like a legitimate challenger to her championship right now.
An abundance of talent in the NXT women’s division could hold the answer to getting more out of Asuka but a completely fresh signing like Tessa Blanchard could add an intriguing player to the entire women’s roster.
Unlike their female counterparts, the men’s champions Drew McIntyre and Roman Reigns proved even in defeat that both competitors can come out looking stronger than going in. We have made a big deal of both men during the past few months but Survivor Series 2020 proved every word written to be correct.
A bruising slug fest showcased both men’s personalities as well as throwing the story forward for another day. Reigns may have been the one to raise his hand but Drew taking three spears, multiple Superman punches, as well as going through a table and security barrier meant the Scotsman looked damn near invincible through legitimate means.
With the rest of the SmackDown teams struggling on the night, expect Reigns to double down as the leader of the blue locker room on Friday by calling out the failures of others.
Special mention must go to the New Day vs The Street Profits match.
We have been scathing of WWE’s approach to tag team wrestling in recent months, with the division severely cut down and limited on its screen time. All four men showcased what the company can produce when given the right time and competitors.
Montez Ford looks set to be a megastar. At ease on the mic and explosive in the ring, comparisons to The Rock may be premature, but the star power is evident for the WWE Universe to see.
Both he and Angelo Dawkins not only hung with one of the best tag teams in WWE history, but excelled at creating inventive and jaw dropping tag team moves. Something others should take note of.
The final part of the night was fittingly afforded to the celebration of The Undertaker’s legendary career. Some may have hoped for a swerve to prolong a career that has spanned three decades but this was a near perfect way to say goodbye to the character of multiple generations of fans.
Split into almost three different sections, the festivities began with an array of Hall Of Famers, friends of Taker or notable adversaries filling the ring.
Representatives from the past 30 years gathered to pay tribute and to see Ric Flair, Triple H, Rikishi, Shawn Michaels, Big Show, Kane, Savio Vega all in one place was an awesome sight fitting of such a legend.
A lengthy video highlights package followed — covering the entire career of the Phenom and set to Now We Are Dead by Metallica. It hammered home just how many moments the Deadman has given the WWE Universe over the years.
The third and final part of the goodbye allowed the man himself to take centre stage. A trademark elongated entrance proceeded a brief promo including the line, ‘My time has come, to let The Undertaker rest in peace’.
A breathtaking tribute to the late Paul Bearer — in the form of a hologram holding the infamous urn — was simply goosebump inducing.
It was a somewhat bittersweet affair with no fans present to send off a character the likes of which will never be replicated or seen again in the industry.
A tearful introduction to his entrance by Vince McMahon is about as high an honour a Superstar can be afforded but Taker went out the way he came into the wrestling world. Mysterious and atmospheric. The man behind the myth, Mark Calaway achieved something few have ever been able to.
The Undertaker was never meant to be someone you became emotionally attached to but it was hard not to after all these years. Reliable, steadfast and measured: he didn’t want you to feel sorrow in his departure. He just wanted your respect and reverence.
Well, from all at Rushonrock and Wrestling Royalty, you have exactly that. Farewell phenom and thank you Taker.
Rushonrock Prediction Results:
Reese: 2 (Out of 7)