Roman Reigns' Promo, Murphy's Biggest Win, More WWE SmackDown Fallout
The Best of The Best was the tagline given to Survivor Series 2020, and WWE set up that monumental promise with clashes between these Raw and SmackDown champions. The November 20 edition of the blue brand sold the night as a special showcase of the elite.
No one sold that more than Roman Reigns, who ran down Drew McIntyre in an unforgettable promo that defined the barrier between them. The Tribal Chief showed why he is WWE's top heel while The Scottish Psychopath was glad to be WWE's top face in opposition.
The show also set up the final members for Team SmackDown's women's and men's teams. Neither look to be well developed thanks to unnecessarily rushed booking. However, the stars have aligned for some potentially great matches.
Outside of Survivor Series, Murphy had his own personal defining match to win. He battled Seth Rollins, the man who molded him then manipulated him. In a huge victory, he took down The Messiah to begin forging his own path.
The main event saw Daniel Bryan fight Jey Uso in a personal battle. The Planet's Champion pushed Uso to his limit in order to set himself up for future title opportunities deservedly on the horizon.
This was a big night for SmackDown and the future of WWE. The best segments built toward the future, even beyond Survivor Series, while the worst showed once more that WWE is struggling to keep stories pushing forward.
Roman Reigns Sells Survivor Series in a Single Night
Roman Reigns is the best at what he does. No one can touch him at the moment, and he proved that in a memorable contract signing between himself and Drew McIntyre. The WWE universal champion cut down the WWE champion in a few poignant words.
The way he carried himself sold the story of a match with almost no build. The Tribal Chief refuses to see McIntyre as a threat. He respects him as a competitor, but even he is seen as lesser to Reigns.
The way he sold this as the battle for who is the true world champion in WWE made it easy to root for McIntyre. While The Scottish Psychopath wants to fight for Raw, Reigns does not even see SmackDown. He just cares that he is at the top. The blue brand is the only show because he works Fridays.
The Tribal Chief has thrived in this role, but this promo was on another level. He had great chemistry with Jey Uso in their back-and-forth, but that was expected. This was purely a man working at the absolute peak of his game.
Reigns vs. McIntyre went from a fun match to a must-watch event. It has spectacular potential, especially as McIntyre has suddenly been thrust into the role of underdog.
Throughout a great 2020, McIntyre has had some phenomenal rivals, but no one clicked with him at this level. This is a match that should only be the beginning for arguably the biggest stars in WWE today.
Awkward Last-Minute Survivor Series Team Booking Hurts Everyone
Adam Pearce announced that Otis would fill the final spot for the SmackDown men's team. He then told Natalya that Bayley was taking the fourth spot for the SmackDown women's team while The Queen of Harts still had to earn hers. Natalya made Tamina tap out to the Sharpshooter to earn the final slot.
It made little sense how WWE handled the final three spots for SmackDown. Otis had already lost to Seth Rollins, while others including Big E, Aleister Black and Apollo Crews never even got an opportunity. A match, even a battle royal, would have made sense to crown Otis as the final man.
Instead, everyone who was left out felt forgotten. Big E spent the whole night neglected, even with Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods returning to the show. He at least got some screen time, unlike many who remain forgotten.
Natalya was likely a last-minute addition following Chelsea Green's untimely injury, but it is hard to justify why she got so many chances while others only got one. Bayley certainly deserved a spot, but the running story of Natalya failing makes it seem likely she will be eliminated early on Sunday.
Both the men's and women's teams for Raw and SmackDown have barely been developed, but at least Raw has some story. The men's team has never fully interacted. The women's team barely got time to be in the same room.
Murphy Earns Biggest Win of His Career
Rey, Dominik and Aalyah Mysterio all came down to the ring with Murphy for this final grudge match, and they paid dividends by taking away Seth Rollins' cheap tactics. With all things even, the former disciple blasted The Messiah with a trio of knees and hit Murphy's Law to win.
It has been a long time coming, but Murphy is free. He overcame Rollins clean and captured a victory that will finally push him forward. One of the best on the blue brand, Murphy earned his way to this moment. He finally has escaped his old label as The Best Kept Secret.
He is a smooth and consistent worker who combines speed and power without ever looking out of place against anyone. Murphy has main-event potential that has yet to be tapped into.
It will be interesting to see what he does next. Rey and Dominik can finally start tagging together as a family. Murphy should be going after gold. With Aalyah in his corner, he would make sense as the next challenger to Sami Zayn.
No matter what, the future looks bright for Murphy, who has long needed to escape the shadow of The Messiah.
Daniel Bryan Is Welcome Back in Title Contention
Daniel Bryan returned to SmackDown with fire, ready to go after Jey Uso for the vicious beatdown he received. While both men fought hard in the main event, The Planet's Champion was craftier, catching Uso with a pair of knees off an Uso splash and turning it into an inside cradle for three.
This was a great match, easily the best on the card, even if it did nothing for Survivor Series on Sunday. What it did was to refocus Bryan toward the future. It seems the goal is for The Planet's Champion to contend with Roman Reigns.
It would not be the first time Bryan has fought Reigns, but it has been a long time since they had a main event clash. If they fight before the year is up, it could sneak in as the match of the year.
Jey brought his all against Bryan and was put over still as one of SmackDown's best. However, it is the right time to focus on The Planet's Champion. He has always been massively over and one of WWE's greatest performers.
He brings life to SmackDown that it needed while he was gone. He cannot carry the show on his own, but he and Reigns together could make sure that the blue brand is the best WWE show for the rest of the year, no matter which brand wins at Survivor Series.