“Fantasy Warfare Just Got Real”. The tagline seemed to be a curious one for Survivor Series 2016, considering that the advertised main event featured two part-time wrestlers (one of whom hadn’t wrestled in more than 12 years) having a long-belated rematch of a showdown that massively disappointed the first go-around. In a perfect world, Brock Lesnar vs. Bill Goldberg would be the prototypical clash of the titans, but headed into the show, they were 0-1 in matching magic.
In spite of the fact that Survivor Series was an excellent show up until the main event (with three good-to-great elimination bouts and two exciting title matches), it was the ending that dominated most of the post-mortem chatter: Goldberg crushed Lesnar in less than 90 seconds. On the bright side, at least the 2016 match was only 10 per cent as long as the WrestleMania XX slog. Conversely, the way the match played out was a surprise for almost everyone watching, and the consensus was that it wasn’t a good surprise.
While Goldberg/Lesnar didn’t exactly capture the imagination during their redux’ed feud (despite their WrestleMania 33 fight being the best five minute match ever), the 2016 Survivor Series deserves consideration among the pantheon of November classics. WWE made the heritage of the event mean something once more.
10. Split Squads
Because of WWE’s reversion to the brand extension concept in July of 2016, Survivor Series would see Raw and SmackDown pitted against each other, with men’s, women’s, and men’s tag team bouts seeing red shirts scrapping against blue ones. Additionally, the two title matches (The Miz vs. Sami Zayn for the IC belt, and Brian Kendrick against Kalisto for the Cruiserweight) each had brand-centric implications.
Even though the original brand split existed in half-assed form until the summer of 2011, this was actually the first Survivor Series to make use of the “brand vs. brand” concept since 2005, when Raw and SmackDown warred in three different bouts, including the survivors main event. In between time, in 2009-10, the ill-fated Bragging Rights pay-per-view tried to mine some juice out of the brand war, but wasn’t long for the world.