At WrestleMania 35 in New York, Roman Reigns had his first major one on one match back since his leukemia went into commission and it was at that event he defeated Drew McIntyre, who WWE was grooming as its next top star.
A year later, COVID-19 hit and the two were scheduled to win the two World Championships. Roman Reigns opted out due to his compromised immune system, while Drew McIntyre hoisted his first WWE Championship to close the first WrestleMania held behind closed doors when he defeated Brock Lesnar in the main event. During unprecedented times, it was Drew McIntyre who carried the company. Despite some rather underwhelming challengers and a lot of overbooking, he managed to have one of the most enjoyable WWE Championship runs from a babyface in a long-time. Perhaps, the most enjoyable since CM Punk when considering overall reign. Drew McIntyre, the superstar who was once considered a failed project and unceremoniously released from his contract, had reached the mountaintop a different breed: a 6’5, 255 lb killer, with a charming personality once they allowed him to be himself. A man who looks like a champion and carries himself as such.
Roman Reigns, after years of failing as the top babyface, returned in the summer to win the Universal Championship. With this new “Tribal Chief” character, he’s aligned himself with Paul Heyman, which allows Roman to be in a more limited microphone role and more comfortable when he does speak. The storytelling between him and his cousin Jey Uso has been absolutely scintillating. To say that both superstars are night and day to where they were at a year and a half ago would be an understatement. While Roman’s in ring work hasn’t been the best of his career lately from an exhilarating match standpoint, his storytelling and psychology has been far and away the best of his career. Drew McIntyre has hit a stride this year, having very entertaining matches with superstars such as Bobby Lashley. He just had four fun, unique matches with Randy Orton and a great match with Jey Uso.
This leads us to Survivor Series. The champions from each brand go head-to-head. Tonight, it will be WWE Champion Drew McIntyre vs Universal Champion Roman Reigns. The dynamic has completely changed. Drew McIntyre has appeared on SmackDown back-to-back weeks, citing Roman’s absence and how somebody needed to step up and now he’s the absolute face of the company. Roman Reigns, however, has responded that if he had stayed, nobody would give Drew McIntyre a chance. As usual in Pro Wrestling, both characters need some shred of kayfabe truth to make a compelling story and that is this. It has a big match feel and feels like a big match. It feels unpredictable and it feels like it can go so many ways.
Let’s also not forget the element that the Miz adds. The Miz spent a lot of the early stages of the pandemic chasing the Universal Championship, but failing to capture it. Now, he is once again Mr. Money in the Bank and has been drafted to Raw. He and Drew McIntyre have been at odds for a few weeks now. This gives the Miz motive to target either champion should it come to that point. Should that happen? The Miz would cash-in on the tenth anniversary of his first Money in the Bank cash-in, as ten years ago today he defeated Randy Orton for his WWE Championship.
While there’s certainly been some incredible matches across every brand of WWE (specifically Ilja Dragunov vs WALTER in NXT UK, which my match of the year of any promotion) and I’ve been fascinating by anything that involves Sasha Banks in this pandemic, this is the match that has interested me most since WrestleMania season came to a close. The last two weeks have proven that both have come into their own as speakers, while both are at the peak of their in-ring storytelling. This is about to be a show.
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