Survivor Series Gives Potential Preview of WrestleMania Main Event Before Bidding Farewell to The Undertaker

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After a night of clean finishes, Roman Reigns used a low blow and outside interference from Jey Uso to defeat Drew McIntyre in the main event of the Survivor Series.

The decision to have Reigns go over was the right call. The goal is to continue to build McIntyre into the company’s biggest babyface, and protagonists work best when they are chasing an unstoppable villain. McIntyre, who has repeatedly been on the losing end against Reigns, can now chase his antagonist all the way to WrestleMania.

The finish builds off Paul Heyman’s brilliant pre-show Instagram post and Reigns’ verbal undressing of Jey Uso earlier in the show, which illustrated an even darker cruel streak from Reigns. Now the Reigns-McIntyre story should be extended into WrestleMania 37. That runs in opposition to Vince McMahon’s desire to fill the key spots with part-time stars, and rumors are already circulating about Mania appearances from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and boxing champion Tyson Fury, but the main event should be centered around two full-time WWE stars.

Survivor Series

Here are the results from the Survivor Series:

-- The Miz won an 18-wrestler dual-brand battle royale on the preshow

-- Team Raw’s AJ Styles, Keith Lee, Braun Strowman, Matt Riddle, and Sheamus defeated Team SmackDown’s Seth Rollins, Otis, Jey Uso, King Corbin, and Kevin Owens

-- The Street Profits defeated The New Day

-- Bobby Lashley defeated Sami Zayn by submission

-- Sasha Banks defeated Asuka

-- Lana was the sole survivor for Team Raw against Team SmackDown

-- Roman Reigns defeated Drew McIntyre

And here are my takeaways from the pay per view:

** The show closed with a tribute to The Undertaker, which did a remarkable job of capturing his legendary run.

The tribute started by filling the ring with some of Taker’s closest friends and rivals, before a video package played that attempted to capture 30 years of memories. The length of his run is so unique because a whole generation of wrestling fans–ones that used to watch with their parents and grandparents, then shared stories in high school about Austin, Taker, the NWO, and all the other central figures of pro wrestling in the mid-to-late 90’s–are now grown, yet still enjoy the nostalgia of a callback to their youth by watching The Undertaker.

The whole scene was extremely well-done, as Mark Calaway stated it was time to tell The Undertaker to rest in peace.

** Sasha Banks and Asuka could wrestle for an hour and it would be wildly compelling. At Survivor Series, they ended up going for just over 13 minutes in a match that ranks among one of their best together.

Centered around submissions and pin fall attempts, the objective was clear: the sole goal was to win. That subtle storytelling is one of the greatest qualities of Banks’s matches, as her obsession with victory enhances every single one of her matches.

Banks, Bayley and Asuka helped carry the WWE product during a difficult stretch early in the pandemic. As important as Asuka and Bayley are to WWE, there is no star quite like Banks. She stands beside Roman Reigns and Drew McIntyre as a face of the entire brand, and a clean win against Asuka was the right call.

** Team Raw’s men’s win felt like a subliminal message to watch the show every Monday, which was only amplified by the entire Raw team surviving. The five-on-five women’s match also ended in favor of Team Raw. Lana emerged as the sole survivor without even competing in the match, though I would have preferred this moment belonged to either Peyton Royce, Bianca Belair or Liv Morgan, catapulting them into the title picture. A big moment took place when Royce pinned Bayley, which hopefully boosts Royce’s stock in WWE—and serves as yet another example of the way Bayley is a champion for the women on the roster.

The Street Profits needed that victory against The New Day, and it was smart to have Xavier Woods take the pin from Angelo Dawkins. Montez Ford also kicked out of New Day’s signature Midnight Hour finisher. New Day did a tremendous job of elevating the Profits.

In the most underrated match of the night, Bobby Lashley decimated Sami Zayn. Rarely is Lashley booked in a realistic manner, yet he is the strongest, most imposing figure on the roster. Lashley should steamroll the majority of his opponents, which is what he did to Zayn, until he finds himself back in the world title picture. And Zayn doesn’t suffer from the loss. He is an incredibly gifted wrestler, and can use this defeat as added fuel in his nonstop belief that the powers-that-be at WWE are out to get him. Zayn should extend his run as Intercontinental Champion all the way to WrestleMania, as he brings a character and edge not seen anywhere else on the WWE product.

Even Miz, the Money in the Bank briefcase holder, remained relevant with his pre-show battle royale victory. The highlight of that match took place when it appeared that Dominik Mysterio eliminated Miz, then was given an uninterrupted minute-and-a-half to wrestle Chad Gable. Yes, the WWE roster is incredibly deep, but it is mind-boggling that McMahon and his team cannot find a place for the wildly talented Gable.

** It took months of disjointed shows to get here, but WWE has finally found a formula for success in the virtual era caused by the pandemic. The ThunderDome viewing experience certainly plays a big role in that, though there is just no substitution for an actual live crowd.

This show provided an opportunity for the wrestlers to wrestle, which is always a recipe for captivating content. With the exception of the main event, the matches all featured clean finishes and the show was carried by a phenomenal Banks-Asuka match. Survivor Series closed with a great story in McIntyre-Reigns, which ended with outside interference before Reigns locked in his guillotine.

On a night that finished by paying homage to the iconic career of The Undertaker, the opportunity was created to further amplify two of the company’s biggest stars in McIntyre and Reigns by building to a main event program at next spring’s WrestleMania.

Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.