SmackDown airs tonight (Nov. 5) live from the Ford Center in Evansville, Indiana. This is the third SmackDown episode during the five week build towards Survivor Series on November 21.
The concept of Survivor Series doesn’t work anymore
The Survivor Series pay-per-view (PPV) is coming up in about two weeks. We’re halfway through what’s supposed to be the build to the event. There are three episodes of SmackDown and two episodes of Raw remaining before the PPV, yet WWE has made zero matches official for Survivor Series. It’s not even listed among WWE’s featured events towards the top of the “Shows” page on their web site. It’s almost like WWE forgot this event exists.
Some might argue that it’s really easy and quick to get a full card announced; all WWE has to do is say it’s about brand warfare, and that all of the analogous champions from Raw and SmackDown will do battle against each other. That’s true, but we’re running out of time to actually add interesting layers to any of those potential matches. Outside of Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair, which is more interesting due to real life drama than what’s going on in kayfabe, none of these hypothetical champion vs. champion matches have a compelling story as of now.
Listening to Nick Khan talk yesterday to investors about WWE’s focus on big stadium events for its cornerstone pay-per-view events in 2022, it became very apparent that the way WWE handles the concept of Survivor Series doesn’t work for that kind of setting. A bunch of non-title matches pitting champions against each other without any meat on the bone is not the stuff that stadium shows are made of. That’s why Money in the Bank is listed as a stadium show for 2022 and Survivor Series is not.
WWE has dabbled with the idea before, but it’s time to once again consider ditching the concept of Survivor Series altogether. The brand warfare concept is especially ill-fitting when placed right after a WWE Draft, which is typically what happens now. Almost nothing on WWE television has been building towards this event over the last two weeks. There’s barely been any mention of it outside of Becky Lynch saying she’ll see Charlotte Flair or Sasha Banks there before she left the ring during that very awkward title exchange segment.
Tonight’s episode of SmackDown really needs to do something to make Survivor Series 2021 more interesting and relevant, because right now the event couldn’t possibly have less hype surrounding it.
The title scene
Now that Brock Lesnar is suspended, Roman Reigns doesn’t have any obvious challengers lined up for a shot at his Universal championship. As a result, the Tribal Chief took the night off last week. On tonight’s show, it’s possible Roman will insert himself into the Usos / New Day story to set something up with Big E for Survivor Series. If that doesn’t happen, then Jeff Hardy might be the one who emerges as Roman’s next opponent. Hardy did mention last week that he wants to go after a title he’s never won before, and the Universal championship fits the bill.
Charlotte Flair is looking to keep her SmackDown women’s championship away from Sasha Banks. Shotzi’s heel turn and beatdown on Banks last week could very well keep Sasha’s attention off of The Queen tonight. Will Flair instead call out another new member of the SmackDown women’s roster to face her in the ring?
The Usos are the SmackDown tag team champions and are mixing it up with the New Day once again. King Woods and Sir Kofi beat Jimmy and Jey in a non-title match last week. I don’t believe WWE used the nonsensical phrase “Championship contenders match” for that bout, but the commentary team sure made it sound like New Day earned a future shot at the gold.
Happy Corbin and Madcap Moss have gotten the better of Intercontinental champion Shinsuke Nakamura and his hype man Rick Boogs over the last two weeks. Angel Garza and Humberto Carrillo got involved in Nakamura’s business last week, and they could pay the price for that tonight.
Rhea Ripley and Nikki A.S.H. are the Women’s tag team champions but there are zero women’s teams on the new SmackDown roster for them to face.
Reggie occasionally shows up on SmackDown to run away from the jobbers who are chasing after his 24/7 title. That list of SmackDown jobbers last week included the Viking Raiders and Drew Gulak.
Other stuff to keep an eye on
- Sonya Deville and Shayna Baszler once again humiliated Naomi last week. Naomi is super pissed off about it, but she has yet to come up with a decent plan for turning her luck around.
- Hit Row debuted two weeks ago with a win in a tag team jobber squash match. They were relegated to backstage duty last week, and then B-Fab was fired last night. Okay then.
- The rumor mill suggests Sheamus will be returning to action tonight following time off while recovering from nose surgery. Which babyface will be in his crosshairs? How about his old Bar buddy, Cesaro? Or maybe it’s time for Mansoor to become reacquainted with the Brogue Kick?
- Drew McIntyre is touring his way through mid and low card heels on the new SmackDown roster. His list of victims so far includes Sami Zayn and Mustafa Ali. Will MACE or Jinder Mahal be next?
- Does WWE Creative have anything planned for Ridge Holland, Xia Li, Aliyah, Ricochet, Toni Storm, or Natalya?
What will you be looking for on SmackDown tonight?