Daniel Bryan vs. Brock Lesnar, Ronda Rousey vs. Charlotte Flair and a lot more in a star-studded Survivor Series.
The second longest running pay-per-view in WWE’s long history, Survivor Series has often been considered the forgotten member of the company’s “Big Four” major events. The stakes are generally lower, and the traditional tag team elimination matches often cause a break in the storylines being presented on Raw or SmackDown. However, since the most recent brand split, the PPV has enjoyed a new life as the one night a year where Raw and SmackDown Superstars go head to head (and if you ever forget that, don’t worry, Michael Cole will remind you 25 times a broadcast).
Cards are always subject to change, and this year’s Survivor Series is the best example in recent memory. Not only is Becky Lynch sadly unable to compete against Ronda Rousey after one of the best build-ups in recent memory, but Daniel Bryan won the WWE Championship in shocking fashion this week on SmackDown, leading to an impromptu dream match this Sunday in Bryan vs. Universal Champion Brock Lesnar. This also resulted in shakeups to the traditional Survivor Series matchups. It’s hard to even keep track of where the card is now, but let’s take a look:
Buddy Murphy (c) vs. Mustafa Ali (Cruiserweight Championship)
The only match on the card that isn’t interpromotional, Buddy Murphy defends his title against one of the most popular and promising Superstars on 205 Live, Mustafa Ali. Murphy won the title in dramatic fashion in his home country at Australia’s Super Show-Down last month, dethroning Cedric Alexander, who had been undefeated since winning the title earlier this year at WrestleMania. Can 205 Live‘s best kept secret keep his momentum going?
Patrick: Between Raw, SmackDown, NXT, the Mae Young Classic, the Mixed Match Challenge, NXT UK, and every other show on the staggering list of productions WWE puts together on a weekly basis, I haven’t found much time for 205 Live as of late. It’s a shame, because what I have seen has been fantastic. I’ve long been a proponent of the brand and really want it to succeed, but so much wrestling can be a hard sell. Murphy’s match at SSD with Cedric Alexander was great though, and I have no reason to think he and Ali won’t deliver here. Since he just won the title, I’ll go with Murphy retaining.
Winner: Buddy Murphy
Brian: We are spoiled. We, the wrestling fans of this era are spoiled. The least hyped match on this card has the chance to be the most spectacular in terms of in-ring work and purely fantastic wrestling. Buddy Murphy has made himself a star in the Cruiserweight division when he would have been just another never-was lost in the shuffle on the “main” roster. Mustafa Ali has proved himself time and time again to be among the best young stars in 205 Live and probably the entire WWE. Murphy wins here in a dark horse MOTN.
Winner: Buddy Murphy
JJ: I feel guilty that I haven’t watched either of these guys wrestle in months. But as Pat said, WWE has a simply staggering amount of programming available right now and I can barely find the time to get through Raw, SmackDown and NXT every week. I hope they continue to put 205 Live talent on Raw and SmackDown — Lio Rush has been fantastic and it makes me want to find the time to catch his matches. I’ll go with Buddy Murphy simply because he just won it at Super Show-Down.
Winner: Buddy Murphy
Tag Team Traditional Survivor Series Match: Team Raw (Bobby Roode and Chad Gable, The Revival, The B-Team, Lucha House Party, and The Ascension) vs. Team SmackDown (The Usos, The New Day, SAnitY, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, and The Colóns)
Every division of Raw and SmackDown is going head to head in a traditional Survivor Series matchup this Sunday, and that includes the tag division, resulting in a massive ten on ten elimination match. The Usos have carefully scouted their team, forming the SmackDown Penitentiary, and Raw‘s team features some…well, some guys. Which team of teams will walk away with bragging rights for their brand?
Patrick: Boy, this match really highlights the disparity between Raw and SmackDown‘s tag divisions, doesn’t it? Team SmackDown features two of the greatest tag teams in WWE history in the New Day and the Usos, Bullet Club co-founders in Gallows and Anderson, a faction with unlimited potential in SAnitY, and…The Colóns. Team Raw has a bunch of guys who at this point are just happy to be there. Revival and Roode/Gable deserve to be taken much more seriously than they are, but that just isn’t the case right now. No way should SmackDown lose to Raw here.
Winners: Team SmackDown
Brian: Until last night’s SmackDown Live, I was fairly uninterested in this match. The Usos, as always, found a way to get me hyped. Except for the Colons. I honestly forgot they worked there. Raw‘s tag team division is sorely lacking in firepower. If nothing else, this is an argument for another Draft. I’m looking for SAnitY to get some time to shine and maybe some cool mixed-team finishers ala Revival v DIY. The winners should balance out the tag team championship fight.
Winners: Team Blue
JJ: The gap in the level of talent between these two teams is pretty substantial. This match really highlights it. I just plain feel bad for the Raw tag division. This week Braun Strowman came out and completely tore through five tag teams as if they were nothing. Vince isn’t exactly being subtle with his feelings for this division. SmackDown has The New Day and the Usos; I feel like that’s all that needs to be said.
Winners: Team SmackDown
AOP vs. The Bar (Champions vs. Champions)
AOP made a statement a couple weeks ago on Raw when they dismantled Seth Rollins to take his Raw Tag Team Championships, officially held by he and Dean Ambrose, who stabbed his Shield brother in the back immediately upon winning the titles. Seth’s loss is Akam and Rezar’s gain, and the team has a chance to show their true dominance like they did before being called up from NXT by defeating another team of roughnecks in Cesaro and Sheamus, who are dishing out their own brand of dominance as of late since aligning with the Big Show.
Patrick: This could be the sleeper match of the night — I’m stoked to watch these four hosses duke it out. I ended up liking AOP a lot more than I thought I would in NXT, and I’ve been waiting for them to get any kind of a push on the main roster. Looks like in the wake of The Shield’s destruction, AOP rises. This one might come down to the numbers game — sure, AOP has Drake Maverick by their side, but what’s he gonna do against the Big Show?
Winners: The Bar
Brian: This could be a blast. No fancy wrestling here, just four (five) powerhouse wrestlers beating each other up and laughing about it. I’m sure Big Show gets involved here somewhere, but AOP needs the win to put them into the more “serious threat” category of tag teams. They’ll need some real competition at some point, but that’s for a later event. The Bar goes down here, but barely.
JJ: I’m very excited to watch these guys beat the crap out of each other. The sleeper is of course Drake Maverick pulling one over on WEEEELLLLLLL it’s the Big and Slow! I don’t see any reason for The Bar to win this one. AOP should be given every opportunity to build themselves into the next big monster tag team of this era. Just like they did with SAnitY and The New Day. Oh wait…
Women’s Traditional Survivor Series Match: Team Raw (Mickie James, Nia Jax, Tamina, Natalya, and Ruby Riott) vs. Team SmackDown (Carmella, Naomi, Sonya Deville, Asuka, and TBA)
Going into Tuesday’s SmackDown Live, the question was whether or not Charlotte would accept the mantle of captain of Team SmackDown. Now, Charlotte isn’t even in the match, as Becky’s legitimate injury has rejiggered the entire card. Alexa Bliss, who is also not currently cleared to compete, assembled the team of Mickie James, Nia Jax, Tamina, Natalya and Ruby Riott on Raw. Team SmackDown features Carmella, Naomi, Sonya Deville and Asuka, but not only do they not have a captain, they don’t even have anyone in the final spot. Who will join Team SmackDown at the eleventh hour?
Patrick: Man, this match could be so much better. Where’s Sasha? Bayley? The IIconics? The misuse of some of the most talented women WWE has ever had continues to baffle and frustrate me, but it is what it is. It will be interesting to see who joins up with Team SmackDown in the final spot that was supposed to go to Charlotte — my first, quick thought is maybe Trish Stratus. She’s a legend, so has de facto “Free Agent” status, and rumors are she will be working in the months leading into WrestleMania. It might make sense to have her get started a little early and have her square off against her old rival Mickie James one more time. As far as who comes away with the victory, I guess my prediction would depend on who takes the last spot. Assuming it’s a legend like Trish, I’ll go team blue.
Winners: Team SmackDown
Brian: This match went quickly from a must-watch to an after-thought. Why is Natalya on the Raw team full of heels, including the woman who broke her daddy’s only pair of sunglasses? She should have been replaced by Liv Morgan just to make it heels vs. faces for real. I hope that a few women get a chance to shine (which is half the fun of the traditional Survivor Series matches), particularly Sonya Deville, Ruby Riott, and Asuka. With the removal of Charlotte, the humiliation of Sasha/Bayley, and Alexa Bliss’ injury, I hope that the vacant slot on Team Blue is something special. My guess is for a legend like Trish or Lita, but I could also see an NXT call-up like Kairi Sane, Nikki Cross, or Toni Storm, giving them the rub ala Daniel Bryan 2010. It’ll be a hot crowd with NXT loyalists in attendance. Give somebody a chance to make a name for themselves!
Winner: Team Heel…Raw
JJ: Let’s by breaking down Team Raw. Mickie James: She’s in the twilight of her career, and I expect retirement in the next few years. But to be fair, she’s being used how legends should be, to help put over younger talent. Nia Jax: Just broke Becky’s face and has a history of injuring talent. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her punished and written off TV for a while. Tamina: Nothing to see here. Natalya and Ruby Riott: I’m doing these two together because I expect them to actively screw with one another during the match, which inevitably leads to neither winning. I don’t want to hope that Asuka walks away with the win for Team SmackDown, but maybe, just maybe, the fans’ reaction to her on this week’s SmackDown will move her into that position. Either way, no way Raw walks away with the W here.
Winner: Team Smackdown
Men’s Traditional Survivor Series Match: Team Raw (Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntyre, Braun Strowman, Finn Bálor, and Bobby Lashley) vs. Team SmackDown (The Miz, Shane McMahon, Rey Mysterio, Samoa Joe, and Jeff Hardy)
Another victim of the chaotic week in WWE, the men’s traditional Survivor Series matchup changed as late as Tuesday on SmackDown, when Jeff Hardy replaced the new WWE Champion Daniel Bryan in the match. This one’s not only for bragging rights, as Shane and Stephanie McMahon have made it clear neither one wants to lose to their sibling at the show. Can the erstwhile Dogs of War co-exist with Bobby Lashley and Finn Balor long enough to take down the Commissioner of SmackDown and four former world champions?
Patrick: Drew McIntyre’s easily been my favorite thing going on Raw as of late, and I’m looking for him to be a major focus of this match. A sole survivor accolade, or at least the victory, would do wonders to keep his momentum going. As far as Team SmackDown, they’re just as stacked as Team Raw, but seem far more dysfunctional. The Miz and Shane have beef coming out of the stunt Shane pulled at Crown Jewel, Miz tried to kick Rey off the team this week, and no one likes Samoa Joe (and the feeling is mutual). The red brand for the win here.
Winners: Team Raw
Brian: With all the crazy happening this week, it would be too much to ask to have Shane replaced by someone, right? There are a ton of storylines surrounding both teams, with many of them men actively feuding with their own teammates. Honestly, if I look at those names, that are several definite Hall of Famers, six former World or WWE champions, and current top guys, and yet, I’m not sold on this one. The women’s match has really sold the us vs them aspect of the match, but the chaos and dysfunction might be the story of this match. I forsee Randy Orton making an appearance to add to the mix somehow, maybe even taking out Rey or Shane and trying to take their place for reasons. Craziness. Insanity favors the Red brand, especially with Strowman and McIntyre.
Winners: Team Raw
JJ: With the exception of Samoa Joe, Team SmackDown is filled with veterans that are all on the back end of their careers. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE The Miz, but he doesn’t need a victory here to succeed — he’s never gotten by on his in-ring accolades. This match should be used to showcase Drew McIntyre and help position him as the top heel on Raw. Lesnar isn’t around enough to hold that crown, Drew has all the tools and has been consistently killing it week after week.
Winners: Team Raw
Seth Rollins vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (Champion vs. Champion)
In what could easily be considered a dream match, “The Kingslayer,” Intercontinental Champion Seth Rollins goes up against “The Artist,” United States Champion Shinsuke Nakamura. Unfortunately, Seth’s been a little preoccupied as of late, what with Dean Ambrose stabbing him in the back and all. Will he be able to focus enough on the task at hand, or will the King of Strong Style take advantage of a distracted Architect?
Patrick: Even though this match has the least amount of build besides maybe the tag team Survivor Series match, I’m really looking forward to this one. Rollins is one of my favorite guys on the roster who can have a solid match with anybody, and Nakamura is every bit as talented, even if WWE has been squandering his talent. Some weeks I forget the United States Championship even exists — but I’m glad it does and that Nakamura holds it, because it means we get to see this potentially awesome matchup. A win could go a long way to getting Nakamura back on the right track, and I can’t imagine Dean Ambrose not getting involved in some way here. It won’t be clean, but Nakamura should come away with the victory here.
Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura
Brian: There has to be one match where the match itself is overshadowed by the storylines around it. Nakamura has been a typical heel US Champ, filled with jingoism and co-opting American symbols for his own propaganda. His feuds have been forgettable, but a match against Intercontinental Champ Rollins could be a dream match. In a bubble, it’s a dream match. With the spectre of the now evil Dean Ambrose hovering in the realm of the possible, I see this ending in some shenanigans.
Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura
JJ: Vince McMahon doesn’t care about Japanese people! Okay, now that my Kanye West outburst is finished, let’s get serious. Shinsuke Nakamura is the ultimate tease for me. Every time I think they’re going to use him in the way that he deserves, I’m let down. To be fair, his program with AJ was pretty lackluster to start, but finished well. That being said, he’s still one of the most naturally charismatic wrestlers on earth and very good in the ring. Seth Rollins doesn’t need this win. Seth Rollins won’t suffer whatsoever if he loses here. Shinsuke needs the win, and he deserves the win. Unfortunately that’s exactly why Vince won’t give it to him.
Winner: Seth Rollins
Ronda Rousey vs. Charlotte Flair
While it’s incredibly disappointing that the climax of Ronda Rousey and Becky Lynch’s epic feud will have to wait for another day, The Baddest Woman on the Planet vs. The Queen is an obvious dream match in its own right. Despite their differences, Becky hand-picked Charlotte Flair to replace her in this match, trusting her most bitter rival to get the job done in her stead. Will Flair be able to follow through?
Patrick: Man, I am SO bummed about this whole situation. Becky Lynch has been far and away the best wrestler on either main roster for months now, and only seems to get better and better every week. Even her promo this week, where she explained she wouldn’t be competing and chose Charlotte to take her place, was straight fire. Don’t get me wrong, Charlotte vs. Ronda should be appropriately awesome between the ropes, but it just doesn’t have the story and emotion behind it that Lynch vs. Rousey did. This could really go any way — from either coming away with a clean win to Becky sticking her nose in their business somehow — making it really hard to predict. Considering this is a potential WrestleMania main event (yes, main event, as in the last match) that they had to bust out early to get out of a tough situation, I don’t see a decisive winner here. I expect Becky to get involved in some way.
Winner: No contest
Brian: I have no idea anymore. This week has been incredible and heartbreaking, all in the span of 24 hours. Becky Lynch already was the highest rising star in all of WWE, but once she stood tall in the ring Monday night, blood streaming down her face, she was THE MAN. There is no one, male or female, who comes close to her connection with the audience and her sheer badassery. Seeing her with the massive bruise on her face Tuesday, still talking trash even in the face of a BROKEN FACE and a massive concussion, made me even more upset that we’re not getting this match. Yet. Charlotte/Ronda will be great. I’m not sure Charlotte can have a bad match at this point and Rousey is better than a “rookie” has any right to be. Give me Becky/Ronda at either Royal Rumble or just go ahead and make it the Mania main event.
Winner: No contest/shenanigans to preserve the match for the future
JJ: I was initially heartbroken over this situation, but the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced this is only going to make Becky even hotter with the fans. The only way they can screw this up is if Becky isn’t kept on TV while she recovers. Getting her nose broken turned what would have been a great segment into an absolutely amazing segment. I hated the hug between her on Charlotte on SmackDown, but I think Vince and the gang might just have intended that. I want that hug to be a false sense of security for Charlotte. Becky needs to show up at Survivor Series with a weapon and beat the ever living s--t out of both Ronda and Charlotte. Charlotte may be in the match, but Ronda and Becky are going at it HARD on social media. This feud has the legs to quite possibly give us the first ever women’s match to main event WrestleMania.
Winner: No contest
Brock Lesnar vs. Daniel Bryan (Champion vs. Champion)
Last year, on the SmackDown Live before Survivor Series, AJ Styles won the WWE Championship in a shocker against Jinder Mahal. He held that title until this year, on the SmackDown Live before Survivor Series, where he lost the WWE Championship in a shocker against Daniel Bryan. What goes around comes around for the Face Who Runs the Place, but the real point of interest here is Daniel Bryan’s stunning change of heart. Bryan, who is usually reserved and respectful, resorted to a low blow to beat AJ for the title, and even initiated a post-match beatdown of his opponent. Bryan will need all the viciousness he can muster as he goes up against WWE’s resident final boss, The Beast, Brock Lesnar.
Patrick: Wow. What a way to go into Survivor Series. I’ve long been a huge fan of Daniel Bryan, and am really happy to see him win the richest prize in sports entertainment. But looking forward to his match against Brock, I’m not sure how they can possibly play this one. I’d imagine Daniel will resort to pulling out every trick in the book to try to beat Brock, but I don’t see it happening. I don’t think it’ll be a three minute squash, like Brock’s matches usually are these days, but I can’t see Bryan walking away with the victory, either.
Winner: Brock Lesnar
Brian: Tuesday night was insane. Have I mentioned that? Daniel Bryan not only beats AJ Styles for the WWE Championship, he does it in a match announced that evening and with a low blow, following it up with a savage beatdown of the Phenomenal One. This feud will last through Royal Rumble, perhaps getting AJ back into the big match on his way to Mania. The two greatest (sorry Dolph) in-ring performers of their generation fighting over the now workhorse title? Take my money. Oh, yeah, Survivor Series. I think Braun Strowman interferes and costs Lesnar the match. Bryan wins.
Winner: The Evil Daniel Bryan
JJ: I love evil Daniel Bryan. This came out of left field, and I have no idea where they’re going with this. Heck, the timing feels really poorly done. But whatever. Daniel Bryan’s epic run began when he was a cocky arrogant heel, and I really miss that guy. There’s going to be all sorts of wild shenanigans going on in this match. I can’t wait to watch Daniel Bryan provide Brock Lesnar with a hefty meal of low blows.
Winner: A monster! A monster! He’s turned into a monster!