By David Dodgson (@DodgeeWriter)
Survivor Series represents modern WWE perfectly. It defies logic and reason, goes against months of build and carefully crafted storylines, and expects fans to buy into a non-existent rivalry – but it works! The build to this year’s event has seen bitter standing together, pure babyfaces jumping people from behind and kicking them while they are down, sudden title changes, and booking that emphasises shock value moments over continuity. That has made for some intriguing TV from the first shots fired with #UnderSeige, to AJ Styles, Charlotte, and The Bar winning titles (hard to complain about any series of events that caused Jinder to drop the belt), and culminating in this week’s decimation of the Smackdown roster by RAW superstars.
So, what will go down at Survivor Series this weekend? Who should win? And what are the most likely results? (As we all now, what should happen and what WWE decides on are often very different things). Here is your Kayfabe Today preview:
Cruiserweight Championship: Enzo Amore (c) v. Kalisto (Kick-off Show)
The Build: What does it say about the Cruiserweight division that the only match with a title actually on the line is stuck on the pre-show? Enzo has turned more eyes to 205 Live (as has Neville’s departure, for me at least) but his rivalry with Kalisto has lacked spark. The title has gone back and forth but this definitely has the air of a lower mid-card feud (hence its position on the fringes of the PPV itself). Enzo has been cheating and scheming his way to victory and Kalisto has been trying to get one over of the champ with Pete Dunne and, er… cake.
What Should Happen: Much as he is increasingly annoying, Enzo should retain. Kalisto’s surprise title win didn’t exactly set the world alight and there is no need to thin otherwise now.
Prediction: Enzo retains. Hopefully, he gets a new rival after this, preferably an established member of the division and not another newcomer (like Hideo Itami) thrust straight into the title picture.
Alexa Bliss v. Charlotte
The Build: There hasn’t been one! With Charlotte only winning the title 5 days before the event, there hasn’t been much to work with apart from a few barbed comments from either side and a forearm smash from Bliss to Charlotte during RAW’s retaliation Still, even with minimal build, this match is something fresh, both stars having been on separate shows since the brand split.
What Should Happen: A Carmella cash-in. Think about it – completely unexpected and a move that would create a huge buzz for the women’s scene. Carmella cashes in mid-match and makes it a triple threat, just like Seth Rollins famously did at Wrestlemania 31. To make it more controversial, she pins Alexa Bliss. Does that make her the champ of RAW or Smackdown? Much like her Money in the Bank win, this would be something unprecedented and would make people want to tune in to both shows the following week.
Prediction: That is fantasy booking in its purest form of course. Given that Charlotte has just won her title, I can’t see her losing. Given Bliss’ track record of taking the easy way out, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this as the match in which the easy way out is taken with a double count-out or DQ.
The Miz v. Baron Corbin
The Build: The only match that has not changed since the initial announcement of the champion v. champion line-up, but still struggling to get momentum with both stars involved in storylines on their own brands. They have exchanged some angry tweets but that is never going to resonate with the whole audience. On TV, we have seen The Miz speak out about his rival ahead of his weekly MizTV segments, but Corbin has no such platform on Smackdown. Instead, we have seen him engaged in a mini feud with Sin Cara in which he has struggled to to ge the win.
What Should Happen: The Miz is the more established champ and the more credible of the two… but Baron Corbin is in need of momentum if he is to be taken seriously as US Champ. WWE have booked themselves into a corner here as either result will have a negative impact on the other champion and his belt. Corbin needs this win and The Miz can take another loss… just.
Prediction: The Miz to win. He has a proven track record of sneaking and squirming his way to victory while Baron Corbin has a proven track record of getting outsmarted by his opponents. This match is unlikely to be any different.
The Bar v. The Usos
The Build: Until two weeks ago, this was Ambrose and Rollins v. The Usos and it was the one champion v. champion match I was excited about. Seamus and Cesaro are now RAW Tag champs thanks to the New Day (more on that later) meaning another match without much build. This should still be a great match and it will be interesting to see how far the final two teams from last year’s tag-team elimination match have come along.
What Should Happen: The Usos are one of the hottest tag teams in all of wrestling right now but they have been left hanging since that glorious slobber knocker of a match they had with the New Day at Hell in a Cell. They deserve a win to cement their position as WWE’s top tag team both in the ring and on the mic.
Prediction: The Usos to win, as much to balance out the RAW/Smackdown win columns as anything else. I am hoping for a match that brings the house down without any interference or a screwy finsih.
Brock Lesnar v. AJ Styles
The Build: Another match where a late title change has resulted in little to no build (perhaps the success of the last minute change to TLC have inspired a new direction in WWE’s PPV booking?) This was all about Jinder and Brock for several weeks. It was the Modern-Day Maharajah calling out the Beast that set the whole champ v. champ theme up and he was the target of some vicious verbal lashings from Paul Heyman. AJ Styles’ surprise title win on Smackdown caused a welcome change of pace, with Heyman back to his usual complimentary self and AJ relishing his role as the underdog.
What Should Happen: A very tough one to call. Brock has to be the favourite but, as always, I would rather see the guy who can legitimately claim to have built a show win over a part-timer who shows up every few weeks and has someone else do the talking for him. However, if Brock loses, all the invincibility built up around him through victories over Samoa Joe and Braun Strowman will evaporate. That’s why I’m expecting…
Prediction: …another cop-out. This is the match where interference will come into play. Either Jinder Mahal, not involved elsewhere on the card, will cost AJ the win to add heat to their inevitable rematch, or Finn Balor will follow up on his TLC match with the Phenomenal One and end up kickstarting a programme with Brock for the Universal title.
The Shield v. The New Day
The Build: Another match with a short but this time highly visible build. The New Day led the charge during the #UnderSiege invasion of RAW, and were the direct cause of Ambrose and Rollins losing their titles. They were the initial targets of the Hounds of Justice when they showed up on Smackdown for revenge. Twitter has been put into play again to add some more heat and in a very short space of time, we have one of the most anticipated matches of the night.
What Should Happen: The Shield are too early into their reunion to lose. Any loss for them should precipitate their eventual break-up and I do not see that happening yet. The New Day have proven in their battles with the Usos that they can put up a hell of a fight, but they can also talk themselves into trouble. This time, they are in over their heads.
Prediction: The Shield win one hell of match. They march on for a few more months and the New Day return to Smackdown, hopefully with a good storyline.
Women’s Elimination Match: Team RAW (Alicia Fox, Nia Jax, Asuka, Sasha Banks, and Bayley) v. Team Smackdown (Becky Lynch, Carmella, Tamina, Naomi, and ???)
The Build: Smackdown’s roster is so thin that the team was immediately named (originally with Charlotte on the team and Natalya in the champ v. champ match). The only issue to settle was who would be captain, a right Becky Lynch earned in a Fatal Five Way match. The Irish Lass Kicker led the charge when Smackdown invaded RAW with some surprisingly heelish antics, but at least she has been on the Blue Brand since the rosters were split. In fact, the same is true for all competitors in this match with only Alexa Bliss and Charlotte having made the switch in the Superstar Shake-up. On the RAW side, Alicia Fox beat Bayley and Sasha to earn the right to be captain. She then chose Nia Jax, Asuka, and Sasha Banks based on their impressive TV outings before bayley qualified for the final spot by beating Mickie James and Dana Brooke.
What Should Happen: The first issue to settle is who will be the fifth member of the Smackdown team? Charlotte’s title win has opened up a spot and Natalya or Lana would be obvious choices. However, the announcement that we would have to wait until Sunday to find out makes me inclined to believe there may be a surprise in the works. Paige finally returns? Or an NXT call-up perhaps? Just so long as it’s not another return for Nicki Bella, either will be good. As for the match itself, this has to be a showcase for Asuka. She has beaten Emma and a couple of jobbers so far and this is the perfect opportunity for her to show the main roster fans what she is capable of.
Prediction: Team RAW wins, most likely with Asuka as the sole survivor. It would make for a memorable night if we finally see Sasha Banks and Bayley turn on each other as well.
Men’s Elimination Match: Team RAW (Kurt Angle, Triple H, Braun Strowman, Samoa Joe, and Finn Balor) v. Team Smackdown (Shane McMahon, Randy Orton, John Cena, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Bobby Roode)
The Build: This one has been a perfect example of the build to this year’s event – booking that has valued surprise moments over logic and continuity. Some participants have had to qualify, others have been announced on Twitter. Some have been picked because they beat others up, and some have been excluded because they beat others up. And the teams have been rounded out with part-timers and old-timers when some of the hottest names in WWE have been left out. No doubt it will be hard-hitting and dramatic, but can we really get that excited about Kurt Angle, Triple H, Shane McMahon, John Cena, and Randy Orton all in the same match? In 2017? Part-timers and old-timers are still preferable to Jason Jordan – will he play a role in the finish? Or will that heel turn be saved for later? And what role will KO and Sami Zayn play? Both feel aggrieved having been denied the opportunity to compete (conveniently toning down that heated rivalry with Shane McMahon for the time being…)
What Should Happen: All the momentum is on the RAW side. Kurt Angle is coming off an impressive showing at TLC, Samoa Joe and Finn Balor are both fired up (just conveniently forget about that Kane match, would ya?) and Braun Strowman is… well, Braun Strowman. After underwhelming programmes with Jinder Mahal, both Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura lack any momentum, and last time we saw John Cena, he was well-beaten by Roman Reigns. Bobby Roode hasn’t exactly set the world on fire since arriving from NXT and Shane never wins. Throw in a vengeful pair like KO and Sami Zayn with no sense of brand loyalty and it all point towards RAW…
Prediction: …which is why I predict a surprise Smackdown win. RAW in my mind has more potential for infighting. Samoa Joe and Finn Balor look set for a rivalry in the near future and there will be tension between Kurt Angle and Triple H. Jason Jordan will cost his ‘dad’ the match as revenge for getting pulled from the team and Nakamura and/or Roode featuring in the win.
Remember – you heard it all here first and, as usual, stay tuned to Kayfabe today for the review and the fall-out from this year’s Survivor Series spectacular.