Quick Takes on Undertaker at WWE Survivor Series, Baker vs Rosa, WarGames, More
Although the Survivor Series 2020 pay-per-view will have a heavy focus on Raw vs. SmackDown, the bigger story is that soon-to-be WWE Hall of Famer The Undertaker is set to give what is being billed as his "final farewell" to the WWE Universe.
The timing couldn't be more appropriate with the event marking 30 years to the day from when he debuted as The Deadman. After all the false retirements he's had over the years, it remains to be seen whether he will actually call it a career during his speech Sunday night.
The November classic has traditionally been preceded by NXT TakeOver: WarGames the night prior dating back to 2017. However, as announced on this week's episode of NXT, WarGames will instead be taking place this year in early December and will feature two matches inside the double cage, which could be seen by some as overkill.
Wednesday's fantastic NXT Women's Championship match between Io Shirai and Rhea Ripley could only be rivaled by Serena Deeb vs. Thunder Rosa for the NWA Women's World Championship over on AEW Dynamite. The thrilling bout ended with Britt Baker costing Rosa the title and kick-starting a feud that could serve as a big boost to AEW's fledgling women's division.
This installment of Quick Takes will explore whether Survivor Series is indeed the end of the road for The Phenom, Murphy's babyface potential on SmackDown, why Will Hobbs joining Team Taz was a necessary move for his career and more.
Will Survivor Series Truly Be Undertaker's Final Farewell?
A legendary 30-year run looks to be coming to an end at Survivor Series this Sunday when The Undertaker delivers his "final farewell" to the WWE Universe. The company has dedicated the entire month of November to The Phenom by putting up content related to his iconic career on WWE Network and making it feel as special as it should.
No details have been given as to what this "farewell" is going to consist of, however. After making an epic entrance as only he can, Undertaker is expected to cut a promo thanking fans for their support over the years and possibly be joined by Superstars from the past and present who have been along for the ride.
Beyond that, nothing is for certain, including whether he'll get physical and hit one final Tombstone. At this stage, it's probably for the best that he doesn't, especially considering the high note he went out on at WrestleMania 36 in his beloved Boneyard bout with AJ Styles.
There has been some speculation among fans that he could be interrupted and attacked by someone such as The Fiend, thus laying the groundwork for a final match at WrestleMania 37. Then again, it isn't a matchup that needs to happen, and booking it would demean the closure that came from his fascinating Last Ride documentary.
By all accounts, The Deadman is done, and it should stay that way. WWE has been known to swerve viewers a time or two in the past, but there is nothing to be gained from 'Taker stepping back into the ring again. Having him retire 30 years to the day that he debuted is too perfect of an opportunity to pass up.
Joining Team Taz Is the Perfect Next Step in the Evolution of Will Hobbs
Will Hobbs spent weeks keeping fans in suspense as to whether he would accept Taz's invitation to join his stable or not, and sure enough, he did just that at the end of Wednesday's episode of AEW Dynamite by ambushing Cody Rhodes and Darby Allin.
It was a move that had to happen as, while it will be beneficial for Team Taz to have another big guy in their ranks, it will be especially crucial to Hobb's future success. So far in AEW, he's stood out with his size and athleticism but hasn't done anything out of the ordinary aside from taking Brian Cage to the limit in a recent FTW Championship match on Dynamite.
It can be argued that Hobbs could be lost in the shuffle because of Cage and Ricky Starks being bigger deals than he is at the moment. Additionally, AEW already has a handful of stables that are arguably higher up on the pecking order than Team Taz.
That said, Hobbs needs to be able to learn from top talent, and that's exactly what Cage, Starks and Taz are. He'd be destined to flounder on his own as a babyface over on Dark, so the heel turn should help him establish a character for himself as well as get him more television time.
Now the question is who Rhodes and Allin will attempt to recruit so a six-man tag team match can be made for an upcoming episode of Dynamite. Regardless of who it is, expect Hobbs to rise to the occasion and pick up the victory for his team.
How Murphy Can Be a Breakout Babyface on SmackDown
After almost a year of doing Seth Rollins' bidding, Murphy finally solidified his split from his mentor by beating him in an exciting one-on-one clash on Friday's SmackDown. It marked the culmination of a six-month storyline that also involved the Mysterio family, an angle that ran its course many months ago.
The storyline's endgame with 32-year-old Murphy winding up with 19-year-old Aalyah remains questionable, but on the bright side, Murphy besting Rollins was the right call. Rollins hasn't lost often in 2020, so it was a major victory for the former cruiserweight champion that WWE must build off of going forward.
Murphy has been a part of WWE's main roster for just over a year-and-a-half and has been fairly successful. He even held the Raw Tag Team Championship with Rollins for a brief period, but he's always had breakout babyface potential, and now is his time to shine.
Prior to this point, the closest he came to reaching that level as a singles star was when he defeated Daniel Bryan on an episode of SmackDown in August 2019. Sadly, WWE never followed up on it and abruptly took him off television, but it'd be virtually impossible for his huge win over Rollins to go to waste with the momentum he has at the moment.
Seeing as how the Intercontinental Championship is currently held by Sami Zayn, that should be the next logical step. He'd be perfectly positioned as a contender to that title and could conceivably beat him for the belt in the not-too-distant future.
While Murphy may never be a world champion, WWE has a chance to make a star out of him in Rollins' absence with the proper booking. He's already off to a strong start in the role, even if his on-air relationship with Aalyah Mysterio serves no purpose. Otherwise, sky is the limit for this Melbourne native.
Britt Baker vs. Thunder Rosa Is Exactly What AEW's Women's Division Needs
For as many excellent women's matches as AEW has hosted since its launch at the onset of 2019, the AEW Women's Championship scene remains a major Achilles' heel for the company.
Hikaru Shida has defended the title in some stellar matches as champion, but the division isn't featured as prominently as it should be on Dynamite and even Dark to an extent. It's oftentimes devoid of storylines and interesting characters, though that's bound to change now that Britt Baker and Thunder Rosa are set to feud.
Following their war of words on Twitter, Baker interfered in Rosa's NWA Women's World Championship match on Wednesday's Dynamite and ensured she didn't regain the gold from Serena Deeb. The two preceded to brawl afterward, offering fans a small taste of how fun their rivalry has the potential to be.
As of this writing, Rosa isn't confirmed to be any sort of contract with AEW yet has been a recurring highlight in the division since the summer. Keeping her around can only be seen as a positive, not to mention that Baker has been brilliant in the heel role since turning earlier this year.
AEW's women's title picture has sorely lacked a memorable feud up to this point, but Baker vs. Rosa can be exactly that despite no championships being at stake. Speaking of which, eventually incorporating AEW women's champion Hikaru Shida would help her return to relevancy as well.
Has NXT WarGames Officially Lost Its Luster?
So soon after NXT TakeOver 31 and the Halloween Havoc television special, fans of the black-and-gold brand won't have to wait long at all for the next installment of TakeOver on Sunday, December 6. It will be the fourth installment of WarGames since its return under the NXT banner in 2017 and will feature two WarGames matches for the second consecutive year.
Team Shotzi and Team Candice are already confirmed to collide in WarGames, while Undisputed Era will battle the newly formed stable of Pat McAfee, Pete Dunne, Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch. Both bouts made storyline sense given recent events, but it begs the question of whether the matches mean as much as they should with two happening on the same show.
When WarGames was originally brought back by NXT after almost two decades in 2017, it was a huge happening because the concept had been dormant for so long. Plus, it was the perfect payoff for the three-way feud between Undisputed Era, AOP and Sanity at the time.
That match and the others that proceeded it were all excellent, but they've lost a little bit more luster each year because they feel forced. The men's match has been built up for a few months, whereas the women's isn't as imperative with Candice LeRae and Shotzi Blackheart just beginning their rivalry.
It's no different than whenever WWE holds Hell in a Cell matches every October because of what month it is and not because the structure is needed. The same can be said for WarGames this year, and as a result, eliminating it as a TakeOver event and using the gimmick only when absolutely necessary should be considered.
On paper, these WarGames matchups can and should be terrific, but NXT is quickly approaching the point where it could be considered overkill if they remain an annual occurrence.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, WrestleRant, and subscribe to his YouTube channel for more wrestling-related content.