Survivor Series matches used to mean something before “brand warfare” took over.
Once WWE went back to the brand split in 2016, some fans were thrilled to see Raw and SmackDown battle at Survivor Series. The two shows had distinct feels, and it gave us a chance to see wrestlers who haven’t matched up in some months square off. At the 2016 Survivor Series, WWE gave us one of the best matches ever when Raw and SmackDown’s Men’s teams faced off. The match was almost an hour-long but wove in existing feuds from both shows flawlessly.
Since then, Survivor Series has put less and less effort into their “brand warfare” style. With the exception of 2019’s edition which included NXT, each year gets less and less intense. Wrestlers have switched brands frequently and there isn’t as much of a sense of loyalty to Raw or SmackDown.
This year has had some of the most lackluster buildups we’ve seen from a Survivor Series. The initial men’s & women’s teams were announced in a Twitter thread. There were no qualifying matches and no reason given as to why these wrestlers wanted to be a part of the match. The vague idea of “brand loyalty” doesn’t exist when WWE makes both brands feel the exact same way.
We’re also getting a set of champion versus champion matches at this year’s show. There are definitely interesting matchups here, like Big E versus Roman Reigns and Becky Lynch versus Charlotte Flair. These matchups are fine, but WWE only began promoting them last week. This week, Raw commentator Jimmy Smith called the show an all-star game. That’s what it is: a collection of matches that don’t mean anything.
The thing that is annoying is that WWE could easily build some survivor series matches that mean something. Roman Reigns has issues with King Woods, and New Day & The Usos have been rivals for years. Why not have them fill out their teams with allies and trot out a five-on-five match? WWE has done a great job in the past of having a blood feud last into Survivor Series and having wrestlers captain teams against one another. It was the whole point of Survivor Series before brand warfare became the default setting.
Some want WWE to retire Survivor Series altogether. I don’t think that is needed. It is a fun concept with a lot of opportunities. WWE just seems comfortable mailing it in year after year in the name of “brand supremacy”.
Evan Gomes is a freelance pop culture & sports writer. Follow him on Twitter at @ItsEvanGomes, and check out his two podcasts: Crossbody of Work and The Pop Capsule Podcast.
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