WWE Survivor Series 2020 Preview: An All-Star Game Mixed With A Pointless Battle For Brand Supremacy
This year’s edition of WWE Survivor Series will be a special one. Even before you look at the card, it’s fair to expect The Undertaker’s Final Farewell to offer a memorable tribute to the living legend. The matches offer a collection of mashups that make this show feel like an All-Star Game, and the lack of meaningful builds for most of them contributes to that effect. This dynamic may be divisive to the fans, but it’s hard to genuinely complain about a main event between Roman Reigns and Drew McIntyre. For various reasons, each match on the card is worth talking about, which isn’t always the case with WWE pay-per-views.
The Battle For (Meaningless) Brand Supremacy
The battle of the brands doesn’t matter anymore, which is why it’s surprising to see WWE continue to tie this theme into WWE Survivor Series. Clashes between Team RAW and Team SmackDown are pointless because the groups aren’t actually fighting for anything. These matches don’t have any stakes, so fans have no reason to care which brand emerges victorious. WWE has exacerbated the problems with this format by constructing Team RAW with superstars that were part of he blue brand literally a month ago. AJ Styles and Braun Strowman were two of SmackDown’s top stars earlier this year, and Sheamus was a regularly featured player, too. Even Riddle landed on the blue brand after he got called up from NXT. The only exception is Keith Lee, who has been on RAW since his own call-up. The point remains the same: on paper, none of these stars have any reason to be truly loyal to RAW.
To make matters worse, Team SmackDown isn’t even complete as of this writing. The men’s team is missing one member, and two spots remain open on the women’s team. More than anybody, Big E should take the final place on his respective team. Though the match is inconsequential, it’s still a chance for the rising star to get some of the spotlight on a major pay-per-view. WWE has missed the mark with Big E’s solo run, but giving him a performance like that of Keith Lee’s in last year’s event could work wonders for him.
There’s no telling how the match will go. Team RAW can’t coexist whatsoever, while Team SmackDown (Jey Uso, Kevin Owens, King Corbin, and Seth Rollins) isn’t exactly a cohesive unit. A victory for the blue brand seems likely, given its advantage in star power, but WWE could opt to flip the script by having RAW win when the lights are on bright.
As for the women’s tag team match, the blue brand should have the advantage. Sure, it’s currently missing two members. But Lana’s brewing rivalry with Nia Jax, Shayna Baszler (and the broadcast table) could cause Team RAW to fall apart. Peyton Royce and Lacey Evans were recently added to the team, and this change could further disrupt the group’s attempt to gel on Sunday night. Bianca Belair and The Riott Squad (Liv Morgan and Ruby Riott) have already qualified for Team SmackDown, and the “EST of WWE” could propel her team to victory. She can, and should, be the breakout star of this match, as it’s past time she climbs up the ladder of the women’s division.
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Champions vs. Champion Bouts Offer Intriguing Matchups
With the card’s Champion vs. Champion matches, WWE booked itself into a corner. Episodes of WWE RAW and WWE Friday Night SmackDown haven’t been able to directly hype up these bouts because the respective participants are on different brands. Plenty of fans may tell you that the brand split is dead, but WWE clearly still places some value on it. Otherwise, viewers likely would have seen WWE United States Bobby Lashley appear on the blue brand to hype up his match with WWE Intercontinental Champion Sami Zayn. Instead, the build to their match has relied on occasional one-sided promos to add any meaning to it.
Similarly, The Street Profits haven’t been on WWE RAW to interact with the red brand’s Tag Team Champions, The New Day. Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins have had to settle for backstage segments with Big E to establish any heat whatsoever for this match, and Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods have plugged the bout in their own promos here and there. But WWE’s avoidance of having the teams crossover into the other brand has deprived fans of what should have been a fun program between two charismatic teams.
The respective builds have had some merit, though. Weeks ago, Woods and Kingston parodied The Street Profits and made fun of their energetic personalities. Meanwhile, Zayn has delivered some fiery promos, along with some heated Tweets, that have built up his match with Lashley by lightly insulting The United States. Like most of Sunday night’s card, the lack of meaningful screen time heading into the show doesn’t necessarily mean that these matches won’t deliver. The New Day and The Street Profits could put on one of the best matches of the night, and Zayn’s clash with Lashley offers a compelling combination of heel personalities. It’s just a shame that WWE has firmly leaned on the All-Star Game feel of this year’s show and eschewed direct meetings between the opponents.
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