Survivor Series (2020)
Promotional poster featuring The Undertaker
|Date||November 22, 2020|
|Attendance||0 (behind closed doors)[a]|
|Tagline(s)||Best of the Best|
Undertaker's Final Farewell
|WWE Network event chronology|
|Survivor Series chronology|
Survivor Series was a professional wrestling pay-per-view and WWE Network event, produced by WWE for their Raw and SmackDown brand divisions. It took place on November 22, 2020 at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida, and featured WWE's virtual fan viewing experience called ThunderDome—it was WWE's final pay-per-view presented from the Amway Center during the COVID-19 pandemic before the ThunderDome relocates to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida due to the start of the 2020–21 NBA season. Like the previous years, the theme of the event was brand supremacy and pitted wrestlers from the brands against each other. It was the 34th event under the Survivor Series chronology, and celebrated the 30th anniversary of The Undertaker's WWE debut—his retirement ceremony closed the show.
Seven matches were contested at the event, including one on the Kickoff pre-show. The card was highlighted by two traditional Survivor Series elimination matches: Raw's men's and women's teams were victorious over SmackDown's. In the main event match, SmackDown's Universal Champion Roman Reigns defeated Raw's WWE Champion Drew McIntyre. Also on the card, SmackDown Women's Champion Sasha Banks defeated Raw Women's Champion Asuka, and SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford) defeated Raw Tag Team Champions The New Day (Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods). Raw won brand supremacy by winning four of the seven matches.
Survivor Series is an annual gimmick pay-per-view, produced every November by WWE since 1987. The second longest running pay-per-view event in history (behind WWE's WrestleMania), it is one of the promotion's original four pay-per-views, along with WrestleMania, Royal Rumble, and SummerSlam, dubbed the "Big Four". The event is traditionally characterized by having Survivor Series matches, which are tag team elimination matches that typically features teams of four or five wrestlers against each other. Since WWE reintroduced the brand split in 2016, Survivor Series has centered around competition between Raw and SmackDown for brand supremacy. The 2019 event had also featured WWE's former developmental territory NXT involved in the brand competition; however, NXT was not involved in the 2020 event. As a result, the 2020 event had traditional 5-on-5 Survivor Series matches for the men and women between Raw and SmackDown. The 2020 event was the 34th event under the Survivor Series chronology, and celebrated the 30th anniversary of The Undertaker's debut in WWE, which occurred at the 1990 event—the 2020 event featured his retirement ceremony.
Beginning with the 2017 event, the champions of Raw have faced their SmackDown counterparts in non-title matches. With the addition of NXT for the 2019 event, the matches became triple threat matches between the three brands' champions, but without NXT's involvement for 2020, the matches returned to being between Raw and SmackDown's champions. The 2020 Survivor Series featured Raw's WWE Champion against SmackDown's Universal Champion, the Raw Women's Champion facing the SmackDown Women's Champion, Raw's United States Champion going against SmackDown's Intercontinental Champion, and the Raw Tag Team Champions facing off with the SmackDown Tag Team Champions.
Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, WWE presented the majority of its programming from the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida since mid-March with no fans in attendance, although in late May, the promotion began using Performance Center trainees to serve as the live audience, which was further expanded to friends and family members of the wrestlers in mid-June. On August 17, WWE announced that all future shows and pay-per-views would be held at the Amway Center, a larger venue also located in Orlando, for the "foreseeable future", beginning with the August 21 episode of SmackDown. Furthermore, the shows now feature a new fan viewing experience called the "WWE ThunderDome", which utilizes drones, lasers, pyro, smoke, and projections. Approximately 1,000 LED boards were installed in the Amway Center to allow fans to virtually attend the events for free and be seen on the rows and rows of LED boards. Arena audio is also mixed with that of the virtual fans so that chants from the fans can be heard. WWE's initial agreement with the Amway Center expired on October 31, but with the option to extend the contract with a two weeks notice. On October 12, PWInsider reported that the contract had been extended, with Fightful revealing the amended contract's expiration date as November 24. Survivor Series was subsequently the final WWE pay-per-view presented from the Amway Center, as WWE are relocating the ThunderDome to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, beginning with the December 11 episode of SmackDown. The relocation was done due to the start of the 2020–21 NBA season as the Amway Center is the home of the Orlando Magic.
411Mania reported that the COVID-19 pandemic was a reason that the NXT brand was not involved in the event, unlike the previous year's Survivor Series. Outbreaks of the virus had occurred at both of NXT's home arenas, Full Sail University and now the WWE Performance Center, prompting WWE to exclude NXT wrestlers from the event to avoid potential transmission of the virus to members of the Raw and SmackDown rosters.
The show comprised seven matches, including one on the Kickoff pre-show. The matches resulted from scripted storylines, where wrestlers portrayed heroes, villains, or less distinguishable characters in scripted events that built tension and culminated in a wrestling match or series of matches. Results were predetermined by WWE's writers on the Raw and SmackDown brands, while storylines were produced on WWE's weekly television shows, Monday Night Raw and Friday Night SmackDown.
Survivor Series elimination matches
Qualifying matches for the men's Survivor Series elimination match began on the October 26 episode of Raw. AJ Styles, Keith Lee, and Sheamus earned the first three spots on Team Raw by defeating Jeff Hardy, Elias, and Riddle, respectively. The following week, Braun Strowman qualified for the team by defeating Lee and Sheamus in a triple threat match. Riddle won the final spot on Team Raw by defeating Elias and Hardy in a triple threat match on the November 9 episode. Team SmackDown's first two members were determined on the October 30 episode of SmackDown. Kevin Owens and Jey Uso qualified by defeating Dolph Ziggler and Daniel Bryan, respectively. The following week, King Corbin and Seth Rollins won the next two spots by defeating Rey Mysterio and Otis, respectively. On the November 20 episode, WWE official Adam Pearce named Otis as the final member of Team SmackDown.
For the women's Survivor Series elimination match, all five of Team Raw's members were initially revealed on the October 26 episode of Raw. WWE officials Adam Pearce and Pat Buck announced that WWE Women's Tag Team Champions Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler, along with Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke, would represent Team Raw. The fifth and final spot was determined by a fatal four-way match that night, which Lana won by defeating Lacey Evans, Peyton Royce, and Nikki Cross. On the November 16 episode of Raw, due to Jax and Baszler attacking Rose's arm during a tag team match, and then Retribution's Reckoning later attacking Brooke backstage, both Rose and Brooke were deemed unable to compete at Survivor Series, thus Pearce announced that they would be replaced by Evans and Royce. Team SmackDown's first member was determined on the October 30 episode of SmackDown. Bianca Belair won the spot by defeating Billie Kay and Natalya in a triple threat match. Ruby Riott won the second spot on the following episode, where she defeated Natalya and Zelina Vega in a triple threat match. On the November 13 episode, Liv Morgan qualified by defeating Chelsea Green, Natalya, and Tamina in a fatal four-way match. The following week, Pearce added Bayley to the team, and Natalya defeated Tamina to win the final spot on Team SmackDown.
Champions brand supremacy matches
All four of the champions brand supremacy matches were announced on the October 26 episode of Raw. At the time, it was announced that Raw's WWE Champion Randy Orton would face SmackDown's Universal Champion Roman Reigns, Raw Women's Champion Asuka would face SmackDown Women's Champion Sasha Banks, Raw's United States Champion Bobby Lashley would face SmackDown's Intercontinental Champion Sami Zayn, and Raw Tag Team Champions The New Day (Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods) would face SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford).
Over the next few weeks, five of the champions defended their titles before Survivor Series, with four of them retaining to keep the matchups the same as initially announced. SmackDown Women's Champion Sasha Banks retained her title against Bayley on the November 6 episode of SmackDown, Bobby Lashley retained the United States Championship against Titus O'Neil on the November 9 episode of Raw, Intercontinental Champion Sami Zayn retained his title against Apollo Crews on the November 13 episode of SmackDown, and The New Day retained their Raw Tag Team Championship against The Hurt Business (Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin) on the November 16 episode of Raw. Also during this time, SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Street Profits tried to get info on their Survivor Series opponents from former New Day member Big E, who told them that New Day would win. The men's world championship matchup, however, changed. After losing the WWE Championship to Randy Orton at Hell in a Cell on October 25, Drew McIntyre was given a rematch for the title. Prior to that, McIntyre appeared on the November 13 episode of SmackDown to confront Universal Champion Roman Reigns, despite not being the WWE Champion. On the November 16 episode of Raw, McIntyre defeated Orton to regain the WWE Championship, thus becoming Reigns' opponent at Survivor Series.
|English commentators||Michael Cole (SmackDown)|
|Corey Graves (SmackDown)|
|Tom Phillips (Raw)|
|Samoa Joe (Raw)|
|Byron Saxton (Raw)|
|Spanish commentator||Marcelo Rodriguez|
|Ring announcers||Greg Hamilton (SmackDown)|
|Mike Rome (Raw)|
|Pre-show panel||Charly Caruso|
|John "Bradshaw" Layfield|
During the Survivor Series Kickoff pre-show, an 18-man dual-brand battle royal was contested, with its participants evenly divided between Raw and SmackDown. In the end, Raw's The Miz eliminated SmackDown's Dominik Mysterio to win the match, giving Raw the first win of the night.
The actual pay-per-view opened with the men's 5-on-5 traditional Survivor Series elimination match, featuring Team Raw (AJ Styles, Keith Lee, Sheamus, Braun Strowman, and Riddle) (accompanied by Styles' bodyguard, Omos) against Team SmackDown (Kevin Owens, Jey Uso, King Corbin, Seth Rollins, and Otis). Jey and Styles started the match. After Sheamus entered the match, Rollins tagged in, got on his knees, and allowed Sheamus to Brogue Kick him and get eliminated, proclaiming it was "for the greater good." After Rollins' elimination, the remaining SmackDown team members attempted to discuss a strategy outside the ring only for Strowman to tackle all of them with a running shoulder tackle. Back in the ring, Owens performed Stunners on Lee, Sheamus, and Riddle, after which, Styles performed a Phenomenal Forearm on Owens to eliminate him. Styles attacked Corbin with a superkick and Riddle performed a Floating Bro from the top rope to eliminate Corbin. After Otis performed the Caterpillar on Strowman, Otis attempted a Vader Bomb on Strowman only for Riddle to intercept Otis. Strowman took advantage of the distraction and performed a Running Powerslam on Otis to eliminate him. Jey attacked Team Raw with a flurry of Superkicks. In the end, Jey countered a Phenomenal Forearm from Styles and attempted a Splash on him; however, Lee, who was the legal member, intercepted Jey by catching him in midair and transitioned into a Spirit Bomb on Jey to win the match with a clean sweep, and giving Raw their second win of the night.
Next, SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford) faced Raw Tag Team Champions The New Day (Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods, accompanied by former stable member Big E from SmackDown); the trio came out dressed as their respective Gears 5 characters, available as downloadable content for the game. Big E went backstage after the match began. After an evenly contested match between the two teams, The Street Profits performed an electric chair/blockbuster combination on Woods to win the match for SmackDown, giving SmackDown their first win of the night. Following the match, both teams showed mutual respect for each other.
After that, Raw's United States Champion Bobby Lashley (accompanied by Hurt Business stablemates MVP, Cedric Alexander, and Shelton Benjamin) faced SmackDown's Intercontinental Champion Sami Zayn. Zayn refused to fight Lashley and attempted to walk away from the match, however, he was thwarted by The Hurt Business. In the closing moments, Zayn attempted to leave again, only for MVP to intercept him, after which, Zayn tried to convince the referee that MVP tripped him. MVP then threw Zayn back in the ring and Lashley applied the Hurt Lock on Zayn, who submitted, giving Raw their third win over SmackDown's one win.
In the next match, Raw Women's Champion Asuka faced SmackDown Women's Champion Sasha Banks. In the end, after a series of attempted rollups on one another, Banks pinned Asuka with an inside cradle to win the match, giving SmackDown their second win of the night.
In a backstage segment, new 24/7 Champion The Gobbledy Gooker stumbled upon a trail of bird seed backstage. As The Gooker started to indulge with the seed, Akira Tozawa appeared and performed a roll-up on The Gooker to win the title. R-Truth then appeared and attacked Tozawa with a bag of bird seed and pinned him to regain the title.
The penultimate match was the women's 5-on-5 traditional Survivor Series elimination match, featuring Team Raw (Nia Jax, Shayna Baszler, Lana, Lacey Evans, and Peyton Royce) against Team SmackDown (Bianca Belair, Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan, Bayley, and Natalya). A few minutes into the match, Lana tagged in and faced off with Natalya. Jax then tagged in and Team Raw forced Lana to stand on the ring steps, not to tag in again. Bayley was the first to be eliminated after Royce performed Deja Vu on her and pinned her. Natalya then eliminated Royce by making her submit to the sharpshooter. Evans performed the Women's Right on Natalya to eliminate her. Baszler made Riott pass out to the Kirifuda Clutch and pinned Riott to eliminate her. Morgan then eliminated Evans with a crucifix pin. Morgan was then eliminated by Jax after Jax performed a Samoan Drop on her. The last remaining member of Team SmackDown, Belair, faced off with Baszler, who eventually applied the Kirifuda Clutch on Belair, who got to the ropes, but Baszler refused to let go of the hold as the referee counted to five, thus Baszler got herself eliminated by disqualification. Belair then fought with Jax. The two went outside the ring where Belair tumbled Jax over the ringside barrier; however, Belair did not make it back in the ring before the referee's count of ten, thus Jax and Belair were eliminated via count out, leaving Lana as the sole survivor of Team Raw. As this gave Raw their fourth win of the night, this automatically meant that Raw won brand supremacy.
In the main event match, Raw's WWE Champion Drew McIntyre faced SmackDown's Universal Champion Roman Reigns (accompanied by Paul Heyman). In the end, McIntyre hit Reigns with his Claymore finishing move, but Reigns inadvertently knocked down the referee after being kicked. Reigns' cousin Jey Uso then ran down to ringside and tussled with McIntyre, enabling Reigns to hit a low blow on McIntyre followed by a superkick from Jey. Reigns then applied the guillotine choke submission on McIntyre, who passed out, giving the win to Reigns. Although this gave SmackDown another win, Raw had already won brand supremacy with four wins to SmackDown's three wins.
Undertaker retirement ceremony
The 2020 Survivor Series saw the retirement ceremony of The Undertaker, who performed for WWE for 30 years, first making his debut for the promotion at the 1990 Survivor Series event. In what was the show's final segment, Shane McMahon, Big Show, John "Bradshaw" Layfield, Jeff Hardy, Mick Foley, The Godfather, The Godwinns (Dennis Knight and Mark Canterbury), Savio Vega, Rikishi, Kevin Nash, Booker T, Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair, Triple H, and Kane all entered the ring to kick off the ceremony. A video package recapping The Undertaker's career then aired, after which, WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon was shown in the ring and gave a brief, heart felt message before introducing The Undertaker for the last time. The Undertaker then slowly walked to the ring in full costume where he then confirmed his retirement in an emotional farewell speech and the ring bell tolled ten times, officially putting an end to The Undertaker character. The Undertaker performed his trademark kneeling pose as an image of Undertaker's former longtime manager, the late Paul Bearer, appeared via hologram. The Undertaker afterwards bid farewell, stating "My time has come to let The Undertaker Rest in Peace," delivering his trademark throat slash pose and then leaving the ring. The show ended with The Undertaker walking back up the entrance ramp to throw his fist up for one last time.
The following night on Raw, for winning the men's Survivor Series match with a clean sweep, WWE official Adam Pearce stated that one of Team Raw's members would receive a WWE Championship match against Drew McIntyre at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs and allowed each to state their case. Braun Strowman was last to state his case, however, he became enraged over Pearce's use of the phrase "last but not least". This led to Strowman attacking Pearce and thus was suspended indefinitely. Former WWE Champion Randy Orton (who did not represent Raw at the pay-per-view but wanted a rematch) and United States Champion Bobby Lashley (Lashley's case being that he was the only champion from Raw to win his match) each confronted Pearce backstage individually with their respective cases for a title shot. Pearce scheduled three singles matches for that night, with the winners of each facing off in a triple threat match the following week to determine the number one contender. Riddle, Keith Lee, and AJ Styles advanced to the triple threat match by defeating Sheamus, Lashley, and Orton, respectively.
Also on Raw, due to Lana emerging the sole survivor of the women's elimination match, she was given a Raw Women's Championship match against Asuka. The match, however, ended in a no-contest thanks to interference from Women's Tag Team Champions Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler. This led to a tag team match in which Lana and Asuka defeated Jax and Baszler in a non-title match.
Survivor Series elimination matches
|2||Kevin Owens||AJ Styles||Pinfall||12:20|
|5||Jey Uso||Keith Lee||Pinfall||19:25|
|Survivor(s):||AJ Styles, Braun Strowman, Keith Lee, Riddle, and Sheamus (Team Raw)|
|4||Ruby Riott||Shayna Baszler||Pinfall||16:50|
|5||Lacey Evans||Liv Morgan||Pinfall||18:00|
|6||Liv Morgan||Nia Jax||Pinfall||19:05|
|Survivor(s):||Lana (Team Raw)|
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Since WWE Survivor Series 2020 features the tagline "the best of the best," we should be expecting the very top talent in the company to face each other at the pay-per-view on Nov. 22.
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