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WWE Survivor Series: Pros and cons of Brand Warfare

Brand warfare is an interesting concept.
Brand warfare is an interesting concept.
Divesh Merani

Ever since the second coming of WWE's brand extension, Survivor Series has become the permanent home for brand warfare. It is now the one night of the year fully devoted to matches pitting Raw superstars against Smackdown superstars. It is always fun and a constantly intriguing concept filled with lots of storyline potential. However, it does halt the normal proceedings on both shows and may detract from primary storylines.

But then again, if we sit down to scrutinize every move WWE makes, we will be left with no satisfaction. Sometimes we should just sit back and enjoy the show they put on for us, suspending our disbelief. The feud between the Red and the Blue brands have been a bit forced at times, but it remains one of the most entertaining of the year. Plus, you cannot really complain about the wrestling.

Plotholes are a constant in every form of entertainment, wrestling included. Choosing to ignore them might be the way to go, but there are times where there are too many. How much does it negatively affect this storyline? Here are the pros and cons of the annual war between Raw and Smackdown


Pro #1 Entertaining TV

Smackdown's invasion of Raw was a really cool moment.
Smackdown's invasion of Raw was a really cool moment.

For every time Smackdown and Raw have feuded going into Survivor Series, there has been a couple of high profile invasions on both shows. It happened in 2005 and 2016, with some really fun and entertaining segments but the chunk of the brand warfare drama came last year and was sparked by two words, Under Siege. Shane McMahon, the commissioner of the Blue brand, led his troops to invade and decimate Raw. They did so in an extremely compelling fashion. With four weeks left for Survivor Series, we knew that Raw would strike back. We just did not know when.

Along with the looming threat of the Red retaliation, we got a few entertaining title matches in the lead-up to the various Champion vs Champion matches on the show. AJ Styles winning the WWE title from Jinder Mahal in Manchester ranks up as one of the greatest moments to ever happen at a WWE taping in the UK. Raw eventually struck back at the final Smackdown before Survivor Series, launching a fierce and brutal attack on the Blue brand. Segments like these are the reasons why most of the excitement is built up towards the Smackdown vs Raw concept at Survivor Series.

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Con #1 Lack of logic

When enemies become friends
When enemies become friends

Despite the high levels of intrigue and entertainment in the buildup to Survivor Series, there are many issues with the logic of such segments. Why would the entire Smackdown roster, bar a few names, join forces and invade Raw together? The likes of Baron Corbin and Rusev had shown dislike for Shane McMahon, while Bobby Roode and Dolph Ziggler were embroiled in a feud at that time. Most 5-person teams in such storylines consist of a combination of babyfaces and heels, usually ones who are feuding with each other.

They always end in the eventual in-fighting between teammates, leading to confusing moments like Triple H causing Kurt Angle to be eliminated from last year's main event, before winning the match for Team Raw anyway. Even this year, Shane McMahon has appointed bitter enemies Daniel Bryan and The Miz as the co-captains of Team Smackdown. They will eventually fall out with each other, as would Braun Strowman and Drew McIntyre on Team Raw. It probably just adds to the entertainment and intrigue in the show.

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Pro #2 Superstar power

Look at the names in this match!
Look at the names in this match!

The relative lack of logic and gaps in storytelling are the sacrifices for one of the biggest selling points of Smackdown vs Raw in the past couple of years, superstar power. We have seen the five strongest full-time male superstars on either show face each other in the elimination format in 2016, with fabulous results. However, last year took the level of star power up a notch. There was a higher emphasis on the name value of the participants in the Interbrand 5-on-5 elimination match, with the WWE focusing on part-timers for the main event match.

The match may have suffered due to that, but it was exciting to see so many star names on both sides. Kurt Angle captained Team Raw, which featured Triple H while John Cena made a one night only appearance to represent Smackdown. This year, there is a renewed emphasis on the full-time talent, as WWE is looking to finally build some new stars. Elsewhere, we will see the likes of Brock Lesnar and Ronda Rousey take on their Smackdown counterparts.

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Con #2 No real stakes

Normal service resumes tomorrow night.
Normal service resumes tomorrow night.

Smackdown and Raw are now fighting every year, but for what? There are no real stakes to the feud between Red and Blue other than bragging rights and pride. It completely detracts from the point of fighting for your brand if you get nothing upon victory. This is another one of those storytelling gaps which comes up every November. With an event of such importance and magnitude, there should be higher rewards for the winning brand in order to make the entire process of war worthwhile in the end.

A simple reward, like a championship opportunity for the sole survivor or the latter numbers in the Royal Rumble match, could prove to be the thing that takes the competition to the next level. There need to be incentives in place for each participant who represents their show, other than job security from a grumpy Stephanie McMahon. Even a pay raise would be fine to justify what each superstar is fighting for. We need a reason to believe why The Miz and Daniel Bryan, or Braun Strowman and Drew McIntyre could coexist in the same team with one another.

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Pro #3 Many dream match scenarios

Last year's card was littered with dream matches.
Last year's card was littered with dream matches.

There are literally dozens of fantasy dream matches between wrestlers from different brands and whenever Survivor Series rolls around, we should be bound to receive a few of them. That is exactly what has been happening since the introduction of the Champion vs Champion matches to the brand warfare concept. Last year, we got a bunch of them. Charlotte Flair faced Alexa Bliss in the battle between the two most dominant females since the brand split, in one hell of a match. We also got a mouth-watering six-man tag team match between two of the greatest trios in recent WWE history, The Shield and The New Day.

To top the dream match list, Brock Lesnar beat AJ Styles in what was one of the Beast's best matches since his 2012 return. The two world champions will face off again in a rematch, hopefully with a similar style but a different result.

Similarly, the Champion vs Champion theme will bring a few more dream matches on the Survivor Series card. Seth Rollins vs Shinsuke Nakamura is incredibly exciting, but the match everybody is talking about is Becky Lynch vs Ronda Rousey. They are two of the hottest superstars on the entire roster and will surely light up the Staples Center on Sunday. For all these dream matches, we have brand warfare to thank.

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Con #3 It is all forgotten after the show

Remember when Triple H made the ending of Survivor Series all about himself.
Remember when Triple H made the ending of Survivor Series all about himself.

To add to the fact that there are no stakes for victory at Survivor Series, it is hardly brought up again after the show. Ongoing feuds will continue while new ones will begin to brew, as WWE distances itself from the one feud between Red and Blue in the aftermath of Survivor Series. Very rarely do angles that play out on the night get followed up on television. One of the most glaring examples is the ending of last year's Survivor Series main event. Triple H made it all about himself by causing Kurt Angle to be eliminated before beating Shane McMahon to win the match for Team Raw.

Braun Strowman beat the Game up afterwards but nothing came from it. Also, the story between him and Angle did not really kick off until the signing of Ronda Rousey. It is like the entire system of WWE programming is put on hold for a few weeks heading into Survivor Series, before normal business is resumed once that big night in mid-November has concluded. There are no real consequences from the outcomes of the matches on the show. Remember when The Undertaker returned and threatened the entire Smackdown men's team in 2016 and then things returned to normal after Survivor Series? That was the epitome of how the happenings on Survivor Series turn out to be irrelevant in the grander scheme of things.

But, hey, it is all fun, right?

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Edited by Liam Hoofe

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