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    Sunday, November 22, 2020

    The SmackDown BreakDown (11/21/20): Survivor Series Hype Package


    This week's SmackDown was what I like to call a last-minute hype package. When WWE is caught between a rock (an incoming pay-per-view) and a hard place (lackluster hype), Vince and company scrap together whatever hype they can in order to convince people that their upcoming events are worth the money and time. The difference between a go-home episode and a last-minute hype package is go-home episodes are a final chapter to a long build. Last-minute hype packages ARE the build. 

    With that being said, let's break down this episode of the Blue Brand and see how it holds up as the preview to one of the big four pay-per-views. 

    The Survivor Series teams are completed


    Last year, we had Triple H leading the NXT invasion into the WWE status quo planting their feet as a legitimate third brand. Throughout the build, we were treated to inter-brand dream matches and moments seemingly at a whim: Seth Rollins facing Adam Cole for the NXT title. Ciampa and the Miz in a promo battle. Kevin Owens showing up at NXT WarGames

    What did we get this year? 

    This year, we got Adam freakin' Pearce randomly announcing that Otis would be the final member of SmackDown's Survivor Series men's team. Get hyped, WWE Universe. In the same backstage segment, Pearce also made the call to give Natalya the last chance qualifier to get into the SD women's Survivor Series team while announcing that Bayley will be taking a spot. Ehh. The actual match with Tamina was decent enough. 

    Natalya getting the win after her fourth time was nice, I guess, but it was seriously undercut by the lack of build to the actual Survivor Series matches at all. Corey Graves rejoicing by referring to Bayley as the captain and Natalya as the B.O.A.T. didn't help matters.

    Non-Survivor Series feuds exist


    Speaking about the Survivor Series teams not feeling important, it seems like the only thing the men's team knows how to do is lose. They lost in spectacular fashion but they lost nonetheless. In a match touted as their blow-off encounter after Murphy's definitive betrayal last week, Seth Rollins and Murphy had a fantastic match. The strong story that the two competitors and the rest of the Mysterio family were able to tell was impressive considering how long and dragging this feud got. 

    In the main event, Daniel Bryan against Jey Uso was also a solid match with great action. I classify both men as all-arounders, meaning they can adapt to any style ifnecessary. There wasn’t any interruption from Roman. No Kevin Owens return. It was just a clean good match.



    Was it necessary for both Seth and Jey to lose matches to people who aren’t even going to be part of Survivor Series this year? Nope. Could these feuds have waited for after the pay-per-view? Yes. 

    The champions make angry faces


    The segment between the New Day and Street Profits, which for some reason included Dolph Ziggler, Robert Roode, King Corbin, and Sami Zayn, ended the only way eight men in the ring can end: with an eight-man tag match playa! Holla holla! The match itself wasn't offensive. After all, any match that ends with Montez Ford’s frog splash will always be a highlight. Sami ate the pin and King Corbin lost too. This means that if you are counting at home, three members of the male Survivor Series team lost in this episode and one champion took a pin. Four men sacrificed for the sake of the hype package.

    This begs the question: was that sacrifice worth the awesome champions' face-offs we ended up getting. Sasha and Asuka just staring off in the ring felt electric. With Sasha’s solid mic work and Asuka’s over-the-top expressions, the two ladies sold the match for me. The run-in by Carmella and the fact that Asuka just watched was the icing on the cake. What this match needed was a clear heel and face dynamic. Although this didn’t give us a definitive answer, it does open the possibility for Asuka to turn heel down the road, which excites me. Considering Sasha was instrumental in Kairi’s injury, it only makes sense.

    In the closing segment, Drew and Roman built their whole match on one simple premise: who is the secondary champion? It was the little things that made this segment so great. Roman big leaguing Drew through the “You’ll make it one day, kid” narrative, Drew’s promo making you feel the weight of the massive chip on his shoulder, Roman literally sitting at the head of the table... All of it just gave me chills. Recognize that considering Drew just won the title, this segment needed to pull out all the stops to hype this match up and it did everything it needed to do and then some.

    The Final BreakDown: Featuring fantastic confrontations by the company's titleholders, this episode of SmackDown, unfortunately, sacrificed any significant build towards the actual Survivor Series matches favoring unnecessary storylines.

    Grade: C+

    *****

    Image from WWE

    Jacob Tambunting is a freshman at the Ateneo de Manila University currently studying BS Psychology. In his high school years, he authored plays for competitions, essays for projects, and fan fiction for fun. He currently lives with his two parents, his two siblings, and his three dogs, and is probably writing something angsty on his 10-year-old laptop. He breaks down SmackDown and writes The Supercard, where he presents a three-match card of wrestling matches from different promotions based on a certain theme.
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    Item Reviewed: The SmackDown BreakDown (11/21/20): Survivor Series Hype Package Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Jacob Tambunting
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