WWE Survivor Series doesn’t really matter anymore. That may seem like a harsh hot take, but WWE confirmed the pay-per-view’s relative insignificance with its format this year. It has unofficially turned into the company’s equivalent of an All-Star Game or the Pro Bowl, and even the top matches don’t have stakes anymore. To be fair, on paper, this year’s card is beyond stacked. After Drew McIntyre regained the WWE Championship his week by beating Randy Orton, he took “The Viper’s” place as Roman Reigns’ opponent on Sunday. This main event offers a clash between the top two champions in WWE, and while last week’s episode of WWE Friday Night SmackDown started to build toward this monumental match, the story probably won’t continue after the show. (At least not immediately.)
Instead, once WWE Survivor Series ends, the company will likely return to its regular patterns. WWE has seemingly hit the pause button on building meaningful stories and willingly let its television content sit in a purgatory of sorts. Fans can be forgiven if they have a hard time investing in recent episodes of WWE RAW and Friday Night SmackDown because Survivor Series has been dominating the product, yet it won’t have long-term consequences on these shows.
In a month from now, will it really matter that Team RAW can’t coexist? You don’t even have to look that far in the future. Come next Friday, it won’t really matter whether WWE Intercontinental Champion Sami Zayn defeats WWE United States Champion Bobby Lashley. The same argument holds true for the clash of the tag team champions and the battle of the women’s titleholders. Yes, all of these matches should deliver on Sunday. But when they likely won’t meaningfully contribute to the stories unfolding over the long haul, it’s fair to ask, “What’s the point?”
This progression isn’t fair to the legacy of WWE Survivor Series, one of the company’s most prestigious shows. In the past, Survivor Series featured substantial title matches and enjoyable mash-ups of feuds in the traditional Survivor Series tag team matches. But that’s certainly not the case now. Having showcase matches between the brands’ champions is perfectly fine, if not a fun departure from WWE’s typical formula. But if WWE wants to continue this approach, they should stop using the Survivor Series name as a crutch and bring back an old show that captured the heart of brand warfare.
That’s right. It’s time to bring back WWE Bragging Rights, a pay-per-view WWE ran in 2009 and 2010. Bringing back this show would allow WWE to tell the RAW vs. SmackDown (vs. NXT, if they wish) narrative in a logical, consequential way. The premise is remarkably simple, but it’s an easy solution to the popular argument that the current battle of the brands doesn’t matter. At the first edition of this show, the brand that won more interpromotional matches won the Bragging Rights Trophy, a concrete, tangible sign that one show was superior.
The presence of this trophy would make each match between the brands matter. Every inter-brand bout on the card would contribute to a tally of victories for RAW and SmackDown. So the results would actually mean something. That’s not the case with WWE Survivor Series 2020. Of course, McIntyre’s clash with Reigns is buzzworthy. It’ll be a memorable moment because both men have skyrocketed in recent months, so their match is arguably the most star-studded bout WWE could realistically offer right now. But regardless of the result, it won’t change anything on RAW and/or SmackDown this week, or the week after that. It’s worth pointing out that the feud between McIntyre and Reigns could continue next year for the build toward WrestleMania. But the point remains the same: it’s hard to genuinely care about a pay-per-view that won’t really mean anything a month from now, if not less.
Nowadays, plenty of fans believe that the brand warfare that defines WWE Survivor Series doesn’t matter. That’s why the solution of bringing back WWE Bragging Rights makes perfect sense. The company is telling the typical “Which brand is better?” story, but they’re not attaching any stakes to it. So you can’t blame anyone who apathetically sighs around this time of the year, when superstars on RAW and SmackDown battle for brand supremacy that doesn’t mean anything. Instead, by letting the rosters battle for the Bragging Rights trophy, WWE could potentially reignite the fans interest in the battle of the brands and prevent the November lull that has weakened the product in recent years.