John: Welcome to the TJRWrestling WWE Survivor Series preview featuring the Raw and Smackdown Live brands. The show takes place this Sunday, November 19 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. There’s only one title on the line while every other match will be Raw vs. Smackdown.
The difficult thing about previewing this show is there’s a serious lack of storylines going into the matches aside from the men’s elimination tag and the New Day/Shield match that has a bit of build. Everything is just “here’s Raw talent vs. Smackdown talent” with the hope that fans are going to care about all of it. It’s a tough concept to sell the fans when you spend the rest of the year doing storylines to try to build to matches like this. Lucky for WWE, they have a very talented roster and on a four hour show like this, those wrestlers will get a chance to show what they can do. If you’re interested in some Survivor Series historical reading, check out my comprehensive ranking of every Survivor Series PPV ever from 30 to 1. It was fun to do. Let’s get to the preview.
Joining me for the preview are Kurt Zamora, Mike Holland and Matthew Phillips.
(Note: All graphics are from WWE.com. The banner up top is courtesy of our friend Melo Man.)
Cruiserweight Championship: Enzo Amore vs. Kalisto (Kickoff Show)
Kurt: Not only do I not want to see this match again, but it’s not even a brand vs. brand match so it sticks out like a sore thumb. There are rumors circulating that Hideo Itami and Rockstar Spud are a couple new names to look for in the division and while both guys are great (in different ways, obviously) it just doesn’t seem to matter what WWE throws into this division, it’s not going to gain traction or interest.
Prediction: Enzo Amore retains
Mike: Enzo Amore strikes me as the wrestling equivalent of one of those awful viral videos of someone drilling themselves in the nether regions accidently with an object of some sort...it's discomforting, and you feel disturbed as you watch it, but watch it you do. While I can't argue that Enzo's rise to power has increased eyeballs on the 205 Live product, which is always a good thing, it's likely had as much to do with finally placing the cruiserweight division in some prime real estate during the endless three hours of Raw each week.
Kalisto is a decent enough wrestler, and they should have put him in this class to begin with, but other than that horrendous semi-soccer chant against a video game soundtrack background he has the gravitas of wax paper. This match is a bit sad in that it's the only one with any tangible reward in the Cruiserweight Title, but as such is both relegated to the wastes of the Kickoff and a complete one-sided outcome. Get Hideo Itami on speed dial already and give us a chance to see something much more special. As a final note, Drew Gulak has been epically ruling lately.
Winner (and STILL Cruiserweight Champion): Enzo Amore
Matthew: On a show that is all Brand v. Brand matches, this bout feels useless. I know a title is on the line, and that Enzo has infused a bit of energy into what was a floundering Cruiserweight Division until he joined it, I can’t bring myself to say there’s anything about this match that I’m looking forward to, which is odd to say because it really is the only match built on a pre-existing rivalry with anything tangible on the line. I guess that speaks more to my indifference toward the Cruiserweights than anything.
Winner and Still Cruiserweight Champion: Enzo Amore (because why put it on Kalisto here?)
John: My interest in this match is very low. When Neville was Cruiserweight Champion I could look forward to some damn good matches. With Enzo, I just want to hit the mute button while he talks. This should be a win for Enzo before moving on to a new challenger, which could be Cedric Alexander or maybe Rich Swann can be in the title picture again.
Winner: Enzo Amore
Raw Tag Team Champions Sheamus & Cesaro vs. Smackdown Tag Team Champions The Usos
Kurt: It was a cool moment on Smackdown when The Usos reminded us that this match was a year in the making as these were the final two teams in their Survivor Series match last year. What a difference a year makes too. Both teams are so far superior to where they were last year that they’re basically two entirely different teams. I think many people were disappointed when The Bar were switched out for The Shield, but this match can and should tear the house down. If there’s one positive in a 4 hour show, its matches like this are guaranteed to get time.
I have a strong suspicion that this is going to be a night were Raw runs a clean sweep until the Men’s 5 on 5 match where Smackdown will win and WWE will weave a yarn about how we’re supposed to believe Smackdown is a main event show now because of it. When really, we know that all they did is prove how much more they have and will invested in Raw.
Prediction: Sheamus & Cesaro aka The Bar
Mike: There can be little doubt that these brand vs. brand matches feel forced and more than a little silly due to that. The fortuitous side of that flipped coin, though, is that nearly all those same matches feature very solid talent and will be more than watchable. The Usos have been owning tag team wrestling in the WWE for much if not all of 2017, no small feat when you consider they spent a ton of it feuding with the energized New Day. Will a match with The Bar (groan) determine anything about which brand's champs are superior? Not really, but you've gotta make things competitive, right?
I can't for the life of me believe that the surprise flip of the titles back to S&C from Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins served any purpose other than to set up the Shield/New Day showdown further down the card. I don't hate it, though, because like much of the booking here, it's an opportunity to right wrongs and give us solid action. As a wrestling fan, that matters more than the storylines at this point, especially since they are usually questionable anyway. Best team of the year gets the duke.
Winners: Smackdown's Tag Team Champions The Usos (Raw-0, Smackdown-1)
Matthew: When the Tag Champs versus Tag Champs match was announced, I was truly looking forward to it the most on a show where none of the matches mattered or quite tickled my fancy. It was supposed to be The Shield (Rollins and Ambrose) vs The Usos, and that match would have undeniably been incredible. Fortunately for the show overall, things got shaken up. In order for that to happen, this match had to take the hit though, as The Usos vs The Bar is far less appealing than the previously advertised matchup.
I will remind everybody, that at the end of the day, this match means very little. I expect there to be a near even distribution of wins between the Red and Blue brands by the end of the 4-Hour All Star Exhibition that is Survivor Series. That being said, if you wanted to attribute meaning to these outcomes, The Usos should be the team that wins here. Frankly, Smackdown has had the more interesting Tag Team Division all year and The Usos are a huge part of that. Their transformation from colourful leap frogs to legit entertaining bad asses is worthy of recognition as the best Tag Team, and they are without who I’d put over here.
Winners: The Usos (because they’ve just been a better team and a better act all year) [SD - 1/Raw - 0]
John: There’s no storyline and it’s heel vs. heel, so it’s question of whether the crowd is even going to care. I think these teams are awesome, which will help them get the crowd into it. I think The Usos are starting to get cheered a bit more now that fans realize how cool their act is. That should mean some cheers for them. Anyway, it should be a pretty standard WWE tag match with some exciting nearfalls on both sides. I’ll go with Sheamus and Cesaro winning. I find it hard to give a reason because we can’t make these picks based on storylines that are non-existent with this match. Here’s hoping for a good match anyway.
Winners: Sheamus & Cesaro
Intercontinental Champion The Miz vs. United States Champion Baron Corbin
Kurt: It’s really a shame that both men weren’t allowed to meet face to face to expand on their Twitter promos against each other. Miz came out on fire with some of his words to Baron, and for the most part Baron held his own and had some good lines himself. I say it almost every time Baron wrestles, but even as a huge Baron fan, he needs a great match. Even a really good match would suffice at this point. Unfortunately, I just don’t see that opportunity here.
These heel vs heel matches are going to be tricky, but in this particular match, I don’t think there’s any doubt that Miz will be cheered like a babyface. Fans really respect him nowadays and he continues to earn that respect with all his media work outside the ring and with his constant top-notch promos. This would be a really big win for Corbin to show he belongs on that next level, but I think they’re going to protect the entity they’ve worked relentlessly on for the last two years.
Prediction: The Miz
Mike: This heel versus heel match survived the Great Reshaping of Survivor Series 2017 due to their pointless and trumped-up social media feud. WWE's obsession with telling their wrestlers how to interact on Twitter to encourage buzz is in total simpatico with their tendency to put words into people's mouths that don't really work for them or their character. One thing these two gentlemen have in common is that despite holding championship titles they are doing little else of consequence week to week. Miz is regularly made to look silly in any match of importance while he hawks the bigger fish on Miz TV and Corbin has had his hands full with Sin Cara of all people with the ghost of his epically awful MITB cash-in still fresh in our minds. Unfortunate.
Heel vs. heel could go either way, naturally, and I never expect Miz to win anything anymore no matter what numbers advantage he has. Corbin's latest gimmick is rubbing his success in the faces of his online haters and that would be difficult to do with a glaring loss at the Series. I'm not a fan of the Lone Wolf, but I don't think he can afford to lose here.
Winner: United States Champion Baron Corbin (Raw-0, Smackdown-2)
Matthew: You’ll definitely see me building a theme and a narrative with these matches as I “predict” who wins them. I’m not so much worried about being right here as I am concerned with who should win and the dynamic that will exist in some of them. This match is an odd duck on this show. It’s the only one that hasn’t been altered to make it more palatable. It’s the only match on the card that remained exactly as advertised when this card was announced.
The Miz is the defacto babyface here. All due respect to Baron Corbin, but in the absence of a true hero here, fans will latch on to the superior act/character, and let me be crystal clear when I say that there are very few performers in the WWE whose characters hold a candle to The Miz. He is incredible and has been for a very long time. He is the superior performer in this bout, the superior Champion, and while this match will likely be a slog to get through, in the end, The Miz should stand tall in superiority over Baron Corbin, just because he’s better at his job than him.
Winner: The Miz (because he is simply one of the company’s best) [SD - 1/Raw - 1]
John: At least these two guys are trying to build a storyline by talking trash on social media. The problem with that is a lot of fans have no idea about it, nor do they likely care. Miz is clearly the bigger star of the two, so if he wins it really means nothing to him. With Corbin, since he’s the younger guy (by a few years) at least he can gain some momentum from beating somebody that’s a bigger name than him. I also expect Miz to get cheered just because he’s got that cool heel factor.
Winner: Baron Corbin
Raw Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss vs. Smackdown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair
Kurt: Alexa is another one that could use a great match. She was on her way against Mickie James at TLC, but they ended it a little too abruptly for my liking. This match has a real potential to stink up the joint and that’s not an indictment on either one. They just have such different dynamics, in terms of size, style, and character. Charlotte should be able to wrestle circles around Alexa, but you can’t make your Raw women’s champion look bad on a stage like this, so will Charlotte have to pull back a bit and end up looking clunky in the ring because of it? That’s what I worry about in this match.
I actually think Natalya vs. Alexa would’ve been the better match, but clearly, WWE understood they had too many heel vs heel matches and needed to change something up. This is the one match can throw off my Raw clean sweep prediction because having Charlotte lose this soon after capturing the title isn’t exactly the best way to get that title reign off to a hot start. WWE booking decisions can’t exactly be defended this year though, so I feel ok still picking Alexa.
Prediction: Alexa Bliss
Mike: This bout makes infinitely more sense to me than the previous Bliss/Natalya option, and it should be no surprise that Charlotte rising back to the top of the heap allows for perfect dovetailing with her proud papa's ESPN screen time. All press is good press for Titan Tower, people. It's a credit to both champions that they have demonstrated excellent staying power on both brands despite switching mid-stream. If you could combine Charlotte's ring work with Alexa's verbal skills, you'd have quite the competitor. I fully expect this to be a pretty good match, but it lacks the oomph for me to take it to the next level.
As far as a winner, I can't imagine anyone is still doubting that Miss Bliss is on borrowed time awaiting the feared Asuka to swoop in and relieve her of her crown jewels. The Charlotte win is still fresh, she's still got that wicked good PPV record that never gets mentioned by WWE anymore since it doesn't suit their purpose, and its WCW retro fever between Starrcade and War Games around a match featuring the daughter of that company's biggest legend. Not a tough call.
Winner: Smackdown Women's Champion Charlotte Flair (Raw-0, Smackdown-3)
Matthew: The last minute change to this match swings it heavily in Smackdown’s favour for me. While you’ll find no bigger fan of Alexa’s work as a character since her debut, I can’t pretend that the writing isn’t on the wall here. Charlotte is a big ticket act for the WWE and I can’t imagine her losing to Alexa in an exhibition match.
The matchup will likely be a weird one to watch unfold as I don’t see their styles meshing very much at all. Their dynamics just don’t gel together into what will be a palatable match, in my opinion. Of course I’m always prepared to be wrong and hope I am. I like both these ladies and would love nothing more than for Alexa to have a strong showing against arguably WWE’s best Woman, even in a losing effort.
Winner: Charlotte Flair (because Alexa beating Charlotte feels so unlikely) [SD - 2/Raw - 1]
John: It could be a sloppy match due to unfamiliarity since they haven’t wrestled regularly since NXT days. If Charlotte was the heel and Bliss was the face then I think they’d have a decent match just because it’s easier for the smaller wrestler to work from underneath in building a comeback. However, with Charlotte as the face it’s going to look weird watching her sell for Bliss’ weak looking offense. This should be a win for Charlotte because she just won the title last Tuesday on Smackdown. This match, like the two we wrote about before it, is difficult to predict due to the lack of story and knowing there will be no follow up to it.
Winner: Charlotte Flair
(Editor's Note: It was announced on Saturday AM by Smackdown Commissioner Shane McMahon that Natalya is the fifth woman on Team Smackdown. We didn't know that when we wrote our comments below, but I'll leave our comments as is. Here is the tweet from Shane.)
Individual competition drives every #SDLive Superstar. Even in defeat, @NatbyNature proved herself to be a fierce competitor and will be an asset to Team Smackdown’s 5 on 5 #SurvivorSeries Team. Let’s go to work, Nattie.
— Shane McMahon (@shanemcmahon) November 18, 2017
Women's Five On Five Elimination Match
Team Raw: Alicia Fox, Nia Jax, Asuka, Sasha Banks & Bayley vs. Team Smackdown: Becky Lynch, Naomi, Tamina, Carmella & ????
Kurt: We’ll find out who the fifth member of Team Smackdown is on Sunday, but I don’t see how it could be anyone but Natalya. As much of an appeal that Paige would be, A) She was originally drafted to Raw and B) It would be a crime for Natalya to have held the title as long as she did and then not even end up on the PPV. Although Kevin Owens won the main event of the last Smackdown event and isn’t on this show, so there’s that WWE booking logic again. In a perfect world, this would be booked where Asuka was down something along the lines of 3-1 and then just decimates everyone, is the sole survivor, and her undefeated streak continues. Since I’m predicting Raw to win this match, I’ll keep my fingers crossed that that’s what they do.
Prediction: Raw Women’s Team (Asuka is sole survivor)
Mike: While I'm glad to see this match on the card, it really boils down to one competitor on each side in my view: Asuka on Team Red and the mystery woman on Team Blue. If that mystery woman turns out to be Natalya (as expected), it's not as critical. If it turns out to be Paige (as rumored), it's very critical because she has to be protected in that spot. Asuka naturally also requires protection. Since you can't protect everyone, which way do you go?
For Raw's side, I'll say nothing of Alicia Fox other than that I love where competitors have to battle to secure a spot for a match where pretty much every active member of the roster gets into anyway. I've been asking for Sasha vs. Bayley shade forever and a day in these previews, as it's desperately needed for both, and this could be a possible entry point for that long overdue development. That leaves Nia and Asuka as viable survivor options.
For Smackdown, substitute Tamina for Alicia. It would be a fantastic swerve of sorts to have Carmella cash in and claim Bliss's belt after she falls to Charlotte, but she's not going to factor into the decision here due to having the briefcase. Becky and Naomi are fan favorites but playing second fiddle. I could see Becky as captain and Paige as the mystery partner carrying the mail for team SD quite easily.
Normally I would pick Asuka to roll and roll heavy, but we've made that mistake before with the very partner on her team, Nia Jax. Jax would be a good warm-up for Asuka's rise to dominance, so I figure the friction between them spills over and gets Asuka counted out or distracted in some way. She will be crushing it up to that point with multiple eliminations. I don't see one brand or the other sweeping both the gender battles.
Winners: Team Smackdown with the survivors being Becky Lynch and ??? (Raw-0, Smackdown-4)
Matthew: I have spent about 15 minutes staring at the blank space underneath this match on my document here, unable to figure out an angle to take here. My problem with these Traditional Survivor Series matches is often that there’s too much micro stuff going on in them that isn’t really worth covering in any detail, and the macro stuff is so broad that it feels redundant to talk about. They are fighting for “Brand Supremacy” which for us as fans really doesn’t mean anything.
Also, I couldn’t be convinced to give a damn about the composition of these teams. Case and point, if Alicia were to be injured and replaced by Paige or something (like last year with Natalya taking out Nikki), it really wouldn’t change the team dynamic. Just once I’d like them to have an angle on the teams themselves. The Reluctant Captain who doesn’t think he/she is worthy of leading, but rises to the occasion. The untrustworthy teammate proves his worth. Segments of Team Building Exercises. Make me care about these teams! Alas, these Traditional Survivor Series matches are the least meaningful matches on a show devoid of any really meaningful matches.
Winners: Team Raw with Asuka and Bayley as Survivors (because they can’t beat Asuka here) [SD - 2/Raw - 2]
John: The team with Asuka is going to win and that’s Raw. If WWE is stupid enough to have Asuka get counted, disqualified or even worse, pinned, in a meaningless match like this then they would be throwing away over two years of an undefeated streak that has a lot of value in the eyes of the fans. The reason to book somebody as undefeated is to make it meaningful whenever that person loses. If Asuka were to lose in this match where there’s no follow up to her first loss then that would be stupid. There’s enough talent in here that it should be a good match if they get 15-20 minutes and that it’s not rushed. My pick is Asuka along with Nia Jax as the two survivors with Becky Lynch as the last Smackdown woman in the match.
Winners: Team Raw (Asuka & Nia Jax)
The Shield (Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose) vs. The New Day (Big E, Xavier Woods & Kofi Kingston)
Kurt: Nothing is going right for The Shield reunion. Before they can have their first match, Roman Reigns comes down with something and misses the TLC PPV last month. Kurt Angle takes his spot and realistically, Roman should be pissed that his spot is that easily interchangeable, but instead we get a blink and you miss it head nod of appreciation from Roman this past Monday. Then, for reasons that can only be explained by the WWE booking team, they give away the first Shield match back free on TV. Even though Survivor Series was six days away. God forbid you give fans one more reason to sign up for the Network by saying the first Shield match will be on there.
I would not be surprised to see this be the best match of the night. I don’t think The Shield have ever had a bad match and The New Day have really been revitalized on Smackdown as of late, coming off that phenomenal feud with The Usos. A loss for New Day does nothing for them, but Raw clearly has a ton invested in The Shield right now so they can’t afford to lose as a group already.
Prediction: The Shield
Mike: It turns out that fan unrest can't derail Roman Reigns, only mysterious viral illnesses can. And only temporarily. Due to that unfortunate issue, the long-discussed reunion of WWE's most popular group was scuttled to a random RAW versus getting the big treatment it sorely deserved. With Roman back, though, it's logical and perfectly reasonable to have that triumvirate engage in warfare with Smackdown's immensely popular trio The New Day. Both teams have excellent synergy and know how to get the crowd into it in a big way. This is a match of the night candidate to be sure.
The ending to this is a no-brainer. They didn't bring the band back together just to have them sing a funeral dirge. This match is all about what most Roman Reigns matches are about, an obvious and desperate attempt to make him look good at the expense of various and sundry. Rollins and Ambrose are the spoonful of sugar to make that medicine go down one way or another. They are destined to learn breaking up is still hard to do, this time due to Dean's actions. In the meantime, enjoy the show while you can.
Winners: The Shield (Raw-1, Smackdown-4)
Matthew: I want to be so damn hyped for this match. In a lot of ways I really am. The Shield are The Shield of course and with the work The New Day did with The Usos over the summer, they have solidified themselves as guys that can really deliver in the ring. It is a testament to how highly the company must think of The New Day to put them in this coveted spot. This match should be very well put together and a complete joy to watch. I just wish there was more to it.
This match could have had weeks of strong build up. I would have been clamouring to hear New Day talk about how The Shield are always heralded as the WWE’s greatest trio, when as a trio, The New Day has accomplished so much more together. That when The Shield broke up, The New Day were The Squad in the WWE. That they have the longest Tag Team Title Reign in WWE History. That they are living legends that have always worked together. And now that The Shield reunited they are supposed to step aside and allow them to reclaim the mantle of best trio? Naw fam, the position is filled, has been filled, will always be filled, by The New Day.
I wanted a verbal joust, a back and forth, a narrative to be presented. Unfortunately, it’s just a match.
Winners: The Shield (Because the Shield aren’t losing their first real PPV match to The New Day) [SD - 2/Raw - 3]
John: The easiest match to predict on this show is this one because we all know The Shield is going to win as they should. There’s no reason for them to lose against The New Day, who are a very good trio in their own right. At least they have a bit of a storyline over the past few weeks. Since these teams are both capable of excellent matches, I have high hopes for this. It has the potential to be the match of the night and I’d be shocked if it was a disappointing match. The win will go to The Shield and likely Roman Reigns because now that Survivor Series is here, he’s probably going to win nearly every televised match on the road to WrestleMania. I have a feeling these guys will get huge reactions from the crowd while the match will be so good they will leave us wanting more.
Winners: The Shield
Men's Five On Five Elimination Match
Team Raw: Kurt Angle, Braun Strowman, Finn Balor, Samoa Joe & Triple H vs. Team Smackdown: Shane McMahon, Randy Orton, Shinsuke Nakamura, Bobby Roode & John Cena
Kurt: I’ve seen lots of comments about the collective age of this match and how Braun Strowman is the youngest at 34 years old, as if that’s a slight on WWE. But how about we just take a minute and appreciate the level of talent in this match? I don’t know if we’ve ever or will ever see a 10 man tag with this much talent in one match. Maybe during the aftermath of The Invasion and the two big 10 man tags they did then. It’s just incredible who is in this match.
People talk about one on one dream matches, but to me, this is truly a dream match. Samoa Joe and Finn Balor are on the same team as Triple H. Nakamura and Bobby Roode are on the same team as John Cena and Randy Orton. Raw vs. Smackdown may be played out, and the logic behind someone like Cena joining Team Smackdown may make less than zero sense, but if we take the match just for what it is, a 10 man tag, it does not get any better than this.
As for the match, there’s two clear cut outcomes. Either Jason Jordan costs Team Raw the match, or KO and Sami cost Team Smackdown. There’s a scenario where KO and Sami cost Team Smackdown and then it’s revealed that Daniel Bryan is the one that sent them out to do it, that I think would be a tremendous storyline. It would be the more entertaining of the two moving forward. However, I have to stick to my prediction that this is the only match Smackdown will win. So Jason Jordan, come on down and claim your heel turn. If only Chad Gable had been named Angle’s son.
Prediction: Team Smackdown
Mike: It's appropriate that Thanksgiving is around the corner, because this is wrestling turducken: a bunch of really good stuff packed into an unrecognizable ball of grease that sits in your stomach until inevitable expulsion. I get it, WWE, I really do: Recognizing that this event lacked a bit of that "big-fight" feel, you were pressed into plugging those holes with famous names. But somewhere along the way sanity was lost, and what remains is a hodgepodge of moments and monikers that will produce some indelible moments but a whole bucket of crazy. It's more than challenging to try to track all this stuff, but let's give it a go.
For Raw, to say that Kurt Angle has some issues heading in would be a severe understatement. In addition to the obvious clash with teammate Triple H and Stephanie, there can be no doubt that the removed Jason Jordan shows up to once again annoy everyone in attendance by reminding them that they actually did the ridiculous long-lost child plotline. That's a lot of bad juju for anyone to overcome. Strowman would be a great choice to do very well, but Kane isn't on the card either so that matter settles itself. Remember when Braun was being booked as a possible champion? Oops. Balor finally gets into a match without Bray Wyatt (so far), but it's hard to imagine him coexisting with Samoa Joe. And who did Joe run errands for during his entry into Raw? Yes, indeed, that same Triple H.
Smackdown's side suffers a bit in comparison. Shane McMahon seems destined for a showdown with Trips and Sister Dearest at the big dance, but now has issues in house with Daniel Bryan as well. Orton is a gamer but is stuck in neutral and desperately needs a heel turn. Lining up his allegiance with a certain former Evolution member would sure scratch that itch. Nakamura and Roode are solid citizens, but don't kid yourself: they will be serving as the side dish and not the main course in a match dripping with retro. That leaves "free agent" John Cena, a shoo-in to get the nod except for the very obvious fact that Smackdown's chief heel, Kevin Owens, and sidekick Sami Zayn are nowhere to be found. I think you see where I am going with this.
Raw has always been seen as the "A" show by internal affairs, and they will pull this out. Shenanigans will occur with abundance. This is literally a match where anything could happen, including about thirty things I didn't even get to here. It will most definitely set the stage for some feuds that won't be paid off until WrestleMania. Out of all the possibilities, I see Trips standing tall with a bit of a stable setting up a long showdown with Kurt. Booked like a true McMahon.
Winners: Team Raw with the survivors being Triple H and Samoa Joe (Raw-2, Smackdown-4)
Matthew: All my statements of the relative meaninglessness of these Traditional Survivor Series matches applies here as much as they do in the Womens’ match. That being said, this one at least has the wrinkle of Kurt’s job being supposedly on the line (I say supposedly because there’s a high likelihood that despite that tease, nothing comes of it regardless of this outcome). There’s something at stake for him at least. Unfortunately, I don’t really see much at stake for anybody else. Again, the brand supremacy thing just doesn’t hold water for me as a fan. It’s an empty phrase.
I won’t really have another opportunity to say this so I guess I’ll just say it here, #UnderSiegeTwo (or was it #UnderSiegeThree? Do we count The New Day one as a real #UnderSiege?) sucked in comparison to the first one. The first one where Smackdown invaded Raw was ridiculous insanity that had no restraint. Raw invading Smackdown felt weak and unimaginative.
I expect to see some shenanigans in this match. I expect to see Jason Jordan make an appearance to “help” that ends up backfiring. I expect to see Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens appear to take out Shane or/and help Smackdown be victorious, so that they can take credit for the win. There are so many ways this match can go, but with how things are configured for me right now, I have to go with Team Blue stealing an unlikely win, setting up a “Will Kurt get fired or won’t he?” angle, as well as elevating somebody on Smackdown who needs it, and furthering the narcissism of Sami and Kevin.
Winners: Team Smackdown with Shinsuke Nakamura as the Sole Survivor (because that coupled with him winning the Royal Rumble would very much wash the bad taste of him losing to Jinder twice out of people’s mouths) [SD - 3/Raw - 3]
John: I’m excited about this match. I thought last year’s men’s elimination match was fantastic with a lot of cool moments over the course of 53 minutes. For most of the last month I thought Raw was going to win, but I’ve changed my tune and am rolling with the Smackdown side.
Braun Strowman is probably going to be a big factor early on and may eliminate one or two guys. However, I think he’ll get taken out by Kane midway through the match. It will be something where Strowman is the legal man, Kane takes him out of the ring and Strowman gets counted out. Either that or some kind of disqualification. I just think that Kane storyline will keep Strowman out of being involved in the finish.
Jason Jordan will likely find his way down to ringside. That could lead to Kurt Angle telling him to go to the back. Jordan can be used to cause Triple H to be eliminated whether it’s intentional or unintentional. If the long-term plan is Angle vs. Triple H at WrestleMania then they can use Jordan in the storyline to add more fuel to the fire, so to speak.
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn wreaking havoc against Shane McMahon and the Smackdown team is likely too. I’d be surprised if it didn’t happen because they should have a role on the show. Perhaps even Jinder Mahal will find a way to get involved too.
It’s going to be interesting to see John Cena’s role. I’d love to see him feud with Samoa Joe. Since he’s a free agent, perhaps that can be the direction after something that happens in this match. They trained to wrestle together about 17 years ago, so let’s see what they can do in a proper feud for the first time. Just because Cena’s a Smackdown talent at the moment doesn’t mean he has to be in 2018 too.
I’m picking Smackdown to win because I want WWE to use this to try to reboot Nakamura’s place on the show. His feud with Jinder Mahal did not help him at all, so if WWE were to have Nakamura go over in a match like this perhaps the fans would see him as a big star again. I hope we get Nakamura challenging AJ Styles for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania. To try to get Nakamura there, he should win this match. I’ll pick Randy Orton just because he’s got whole “Mr. Survivor Series” thing about him since he’s survived in so many of these matches before.
This should be an excellent match. Plenty of star power out there and it will be a long match too – perhaps the longest in WWE this year. I’m very intrigued by how they book it because of all the possibilities that exist. My Smackdown pick is far from a sure thing. I just want it to be fun to watch and I think it will be.
Winners: Team Smackdown (Nakamura and Orton as survivors)
Universal Champion Brock Lesnar vs. WWE Champion AJ Styles
Kurt: They finally hindered Jinder. As much as Brock vs Jinder isn’t a marquee match, with the way the rest of the card filled out, I think you could’ve stuck to the original plan and had AJ in the 5 on 5 match, maybe in the place of Roode. I know what you’re thinking, how could I poo-poo on AJ vs. Brock? Very easily, look at how Brock has been booked since WrestleMania. Samoa Joe was on fire, one F5 and it was over. SummerSlam, spent the majority of the match not involved, came in, F5 on Roman and it was over. Braun Strowman was even more on fire, one F5 and it was over.
For everything AJ can do and for the possibilities in this match, I can’t believe they’re gonna treat AJ any different than they have any of Brock’s opponent’s this year. I don’t like it and I think they need to get past this Brock experience because Suplex City has beyond run its course. I love ice cream as much as the next guy, but if I had it every time I ate, I’d be sick of it. That’s a Brock match now. With that being said, why not just have Brock destroy Jinder and move forward? It doesn’t hurt Jinder because he’s elevated regardless by just being in the match.
Prediction: Brock Lesnar
Mike: You're not telling me you wouldn't rather have seen The Beast vs. Jinder Mahal, are you?!? The best decision on this card and possibly ever was to remove Jinder from the picture and put the belt on the man who deserves it more than anyone, AJ Styles. There is more than one reason for this. The first one is self-evident: AJ is a phenomenal talent and will make a match with Lesnar infinitely more watchable just by sharing his airspace. WWE is way too proud to admit the Jinder fiasco was a failure, but this is good enough for me. In addition, it helps Lesnar, who frankly has looked anything but committed since trading spaces with Goldberg. Just because you're a highly-paid part-time champion doesn't mean you need to act like a highly-paid part-time champion. Heyman's oratories are the only reason Brock's matches haven't become a reason to hit snooze.
All of that said, as Brock goes, so goes Raw, and so goes the plan to unseat him. All this dominating and preening will be for naught if Lesnar looks beatable, and considering Styles was fed to Finn Balor at the last Raw PPV, you can't imagine him not doing the job as a good company man. Styles will settle for major brownie points by carrying this match to something memorable, and might even get Brock on the ropes a time or two before detonation. One more thing this audible allows? The chance for Mahal to rear his head and cost AJ a win, thus continuing the drama between the two while the dust settles. The fact that Styles has the gold for the blue brand is almost enough to wash the stink of how this will go down. Suplex City gets a new resident and Lesnar continues to be an extremely well-taken-care-of placeholder for the Roman Empire.
Winner: Universal Champion Brock Lesnar (Raw-3, Smackdown-4)
Matthew: This match was vastly improved. I can’t tell you how hard I wouldn’t have watched Jinder vs. Brock. I would have watched literally anything else instead. I’m so very glad that they came to their senses by putting the WWE Title on someone with merit and gave us a match that we’ve never seen before and can get excited about.
I’ve been down on Brock Lesnar matches. I genuinely believe he doesn’t really give a damn and doesn’t care to put on a show when he’s having matches, which has been frustrating to me. Dean Ambrose’s account of how difficult it was to get Brock to agree to do anything cool or interesting was very telling to me, and has coloured my view of him. To be fair to myself, so has the string of underwhelming matches.
I am hoping against hope that this match doesn’t join the list of past underwhelming Brock Lesnar matches. I’m hoping AJ Styles can get something similar to what CM Punk was able to get out of Brock Lesnar years back (SummerSlam 2013). If anybody can it’s AJ. If anybody won’t half-ass this it’s AJ. The winner doesn’t matter really, I just want to see a good match. Although a Styles win would set up a Finn Balor shot and avoid doing the same thing they did last year, where Raw won more matches but Smackdown won the Big Match so they both kinda win. Who am I kidding though, they don’t want either show definitively winning.
Winner: Brock Lesnar (because AJ doesn’t lose anything by losing) [SD - 3/Raw - 4]
John: I’m excited for this match. It’s way better than doing Lesnar vs. Mahal like was originally promoted. I’m glad that Vince McMahon and others in WWE came to their senses to end Mahal’s title reign that went on for way too long with a lot of mediocre matches.
It’s the same story with Lesnar that we’ve covered in previews earlier this year. I wanted his matches with Samoa Joe and Braun Strowman to go 15 minutes and neither of them came close. Perhaps this one will go a bit longer because it would make sense with the style of Styles. The only Lesnar match that was long this year was SummerSlam’s four-way main event, which was amazing. In that match, Lesnar spent most of it laying on the floor or being taken to the back before coming back to win. Here’s hoping Lesnar realizes what kind of worker Styles is and they have the kind of classic match they are capable of.
I’ll pick Lesnar to win because WWE wants him to beat everybody in his path before he loses the Universal Title to Roman Reigns at WrestleMania. Styles winning would be a nice surprise. I just don’t see it happening. It’s not like a Styles loss would hurt him that much since nearly everybody loses to Lesnar anyway.
Winner: Brock Lesnar
I picked Raw to win four matches and Smackdown to win three. That means Raw “wins” the “brand supremacy” stuff that WWE is trying to sell us as being important.
Match I'm Looking Forward To The Most
Kurt: Men’s 5 on 5 match. We may never see that much talent in one match again.
Mike: Few ways you could go, but I'll take the Men's 5-on-5. Personally, I'd have Nakamura wrestle Strowman for at least ten minutes before anyone else does anything. This will be a carnival in a blender.
Matthew: New Day vs. The Shield.
John: I can go with three matches between Brock vs. AJ, Shield vs. New Day and the men’s 5 on 5 match. I’m going with the men’s elimination match just because of the big name talent involved as well as the potential twists that could make it more interesting.
Match I Care About The Least
Kurt: Cruiserweight match.
Mike: Corbin/Miz. Doesn't even make sense as a match, really. Try a little bit harder.
Matthew: Women’s Traditional Survivor Series Match.
John: The cruiserweight match for sure, but if I must pick something on the main show it’s Corbin vs. Miz.
Kurt: Men’s 5 on 5 and it won’t even be close.
Mike: Men's 5-on-5. So much going on that I can't see it going less than 30-35 minutes.
Matthew: Men’s Traditional Survivor Series Match.
John: The men’s elimination match is the pick. Last year it got 53 minutes and over an hour if you count introductions. It wouldn’t shock me that much if they top that this year.
Kurt: Cruiserweight match since it’s the only non brand vs brand match.
Mike: Enzo vs. Kalisto if there is any type of supernatural deity and/or justice in the world. Lesnar/Styles won't be long either.
Matthew: The Miz vs Baron Corbin.
John: I’m going with Charlotte vs. Bliss getting under ten minutes.
Excitement Level on a Scale of 1-10 (1 being low, 10 being high)
Kurt: Two weeks ago it would’ve been probably a 4 or lower. After the changes and possibilities now, I’d say it’s a 7-8. I don’t know that it’ll actually mean anything, but for 4 hours we should get some really solid in-ring action.
Mike: The upgrading of several matches makes this a very solid 8. Won't play as big as it looks.
Matthew: I’m optimistic about this show overall, so I’ll go with 7.5 out of 10.
John: It’s about 7.5 out of 10 and has the potential to be the best WWE PPV of the year. Expectations are high for it.
Mike: I'll give credit where it's due: This card FEELS like a way bigger deal due to the late-game substitutions. The Raw/Smackdown gamesmanship was played up heavily when the brand split was first introduced, and these moves plus the sneak attack angles have upped the tempo remarkably. It's difficult to get me juiced about two "brands" working for the same parent company going after each other in intensely fake competition, but they've managed to do it. Good show.
Smackdown got the upper hand this year, so you might think Raw wins this year to balance the scales. I figure they give the blue brand more wins (mainly in the lesser matches), but have the red brand win the biggest stakes on the card. I think this card has a chance to be way above average if they flip a couple talents along the way. In addition, silly or otherwise, the wrestling up and down this card is as good as you'll find. Without most of the major titles on the line, though, I'd temper my expectations a bit and expect far more sizzle than substance on your dinner table this year.
Matthew: If Wrestlemania is the WWE’s Super Bowl, The Royal Rumble is their March Madness, and Summerslam is their self-congratulatory party/celebration, then Survivor Series is the WWE’s All Star Game. Ultimately meaningless exhibitions where fans tune in to see a show. We want to see stuff get as weird as possible. This is the least canon event in the WWE’s calendar and #UnderSiege really captured that spirit beautifully and wackily. Here’s to hoping the PPV continues in that ridiculous, but ultimately fun direction.
John: That’s all for us. Easy to say "that's all" after nearly 8,000 words huh? Thanks to the crew for joining me once again. I will write a live review of the show on TJRWrestling.net on Sunday night, so check it out during the show or after it’s over.
Kurt - @KTankTMB
Mike - @DharmanRockwell
Matthew - @MJDP_GSE
John - @johnreport
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