Of the Big 4 pay-per-views, Survivor Series has always felt like the least important. WrestleMania and SummerSlam are the two biggest shows of the year, the Royal Rumble‘s gimmick match makes it special, but Survivor Series? Sure it’s got the 5-on-5 (and previously, 4-on-4) elimination match, but even the WWE got bored of that at one point and did away with those matches all together. To wit, the most fondly remembered version of the event, 1998’s Deadly Game tournament, didn’t even feature the show’s signature match. Since the brand split, however, Survivor Series has emerged as an excuse to pit the two brands against one another in a pissing contest between the McMahon Siblings. Pitched as “the only time SmackDown and Raw go head to head” (except for the Royal Rumble, and all those house shows…and when AJ filled in for Bray Wyatt last….you know what, it’s a stupid tagline, let’s leave it at that), this year’s event sees the red and blue brands square off in a series of grudge matches for…reasons. Who’s going to win? Here’s what our panel of experts had to say about it:
Enzo Amore (c) Vs. Kalisto for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship
Brian: I am an eternal optimist, which I think is the reason I still watch 5-7 hours of WWE programming each week. I really enjoy watching the Cruiserweights and hope there’s a long term plan to keep things moving. I’ve enjoyed the Enzo heel turn if, for nothing else, we get to see Drew Gulak in one of the most remarkable character evolutions in years. I don’t think Enzo drops the title again so quickly. As long as he has it, there’s a reason to put him on TV and I think Enzo’s mouth is money.
Winner: Drew Gulak for hitching himself to Enzo
Loser: Microsoft Office for never getting to show the true power in Gulak’s PowerPoint.
Loser: Those of us that watch the pre-show
Nathaniel: I can’t stand Enzo. It would be great if Kalisto pinned Enzo and removed his mask revealing himself to be Neville a la Dean Malenko and Ciclpoe during his feud with Chris Jericho. But that ain’t happening.
Loser: The Cruiserweight Title
Paul: The cruiserweight division is so sad that I actually had to look up which one of these guys had the belt, because I honestly couldn’t even remember. With that in mind, I could see this one going either way, but I think that they’ll keep the belt on Enzo. There hasn’t been very much that’s been entertaining about the Raw cruiserweights, but I’ve actually enjoyed what I’ve seen from heel Enzo.
Loser: The handful of people who get to the arena early to see this on the kickoff show.
Survivor Series Match: Team SmackDown (Becky Lynch, Tamina, Carmella, Naomi, ???) Vs. Team Raw (Alicia Fox, Nia Jax, Asuka, Sasha Banks, Bayley)
Brian: I think this is the one match that could go either way. A lot has changed in the past few weeks, but the women’s match has had the least ups and downs. I think many of us assumed that the returning Paige would join Team Raw instead of Bayley, perhaps setting up another ultimate babyface to turn against her division. We still have an empty slot on the SmackDown side, but that’s almost certainly going to Natalya. Barring anything crazy happening, I see Asuka coming out of this match looking strong.
Winner: Team Raw.
Loser: Becky Lynch for being stuck in her current mid-card limbo.
Jason: There’s some mystery as to who will be filling the last spot on SmackDown, but honestly I don’t think it matters. Asuka = a SmackDown loss. That mystery partner, assuming it’s not just Natalya, will probably be Nikki Bella. A comeback that matters, but with someone who can eat a pin without losing steam screams Bella to me. Plus her fiance is returning to the blue brand on the same night, so that’s my pick. I mean, she and the rest of the SmackDown women are still losing, but welcome back, Nikki.
Winner: The Raw Ladies
Loser: Tamina, since she’ll be pitted against Nia Jax who is everything Tamina should have been in a younger, larger and more athletic body.
Nathaniel: Tough call. The one blemish on Asuka’s NXT record (house shows don’t count) is when Eva Marie eliminated her from a battle to determine a challenger for the NXT Women’s Title. Wouldn’t be surprised to see that here. Something silly like Asuka chasing someone to the back or something. But I just can’t see who on SmackDown will survive. Best to take the safe bet, I guess.
Loser: Asuka who will further just blend into the division.
Paul: On paper, this looks like an easy win for Team Raw. I mean, unless the Team SmackDown mystery member is Manami Toyota in her prime, this Raw team is way more stacked. My guess is that Team SmackDown will get a quick elimination of Nia Jax, putting Team Raw down early. I think that it will end with an outnumbered Asuka absolutely destroying multiple Team SmackDown members to get the win.
Winner: Team Raw
Loser: Anyone who is excited to see Paige, or Nikki Bella, or anyone else important, but instead just gets Natalya.
Champion vs. Champion: Baron Corbin Vs. The Miz
Brian: Baron Corbin has grown on me recently. I’m not sure if he’ll ever be true world champion material, but 2017 has taught me that I don’t know anything at this point *cough*JinderMahal*cough*. Everyone loves/hates The Miz but he can eat a loss here and come out unscathed. Corbin needs to establish his bona fides. Win and he can gloat for months. Lose and he becomes Bray Wyatt without the gimmick.
Winner: Baron “Sad Tum Tum” Corbin
Loser: The former Mike McGillicutty when he eats an End of Days
Jason: This is one that could go either way. On the one hand, Corbin kinda sucks and loses all the time, on the other Miz is the s--t BECAUSE he loses all the time. You want to see both guys get their ass kicked for different reasons, but I’m going to call this one for Miz. Corbin could definitely use the win a lot more and Miz is friggin’ teflon, but I imagine the Miztourage will get get involved en route to a countout loss for Sweet Barry C. Miz could lose every match and remain as over as ever because of the strength of his character work, but I see him walking away from this match the victor.
Winner: The Miz
Loser: Maryse, since Miz will likely be on the road throughout her entire pregnancy.
Nathaniel: Baron Corbin has the rare and amazing ability to make people care even less about him after winning a major championship (See: Swagger, Jack). Barry will never make it as far as WWE initially planned, but should still be commended for making it as far as he did. Everything is downhill after this for Baron.
Winner: The Miz
Loser: The next few SmackDown-only PPV pre-shows that Baron is destined to have matches on.
Paul: It’s always strange to see heel vs. heel matches. In this one, I think that Miz will be the obvious fan favorite. I don’t know why, but I see this being a fairly uninteresting match. I love the Miz, but I just don’t see these guys matching up well for some reason. I hope that I’m wrong. My prediction is that Corbin will look more dominant, but lose due to interference. Keeping both guys “strong” I guess.
Winner: The Miz
Loser: Whoever came up with Baron Corbin’s music.
Champions vs. Champions: The Usos Vs. Cesaro & Sheamus
Brian: Thank God for last minute title changes. As much as I want to see The Shield take on The Usos, this was not the venue for it. The Usos are in a career resurgence and The Bar can put on a hell of a match. These four with their smashmouth style, mixed with a few high spots from the brothers will rock. This won’t hit the “steal the show” levels that New Day/Usos did, but will rock the hardcore wrestling fans in attendance.
Winner: The U…
Losers: Sos! Sorry, that happened late. Losers are team Utilikilt.
Jason:I don’t know that the Usos are capable of having a bad match. I think it’s a tossup between this and the Shield-New Day tilt for Match of the Night in my mind, as all four guys can really go in the ring. I think there’s a lot of potential for both teams to come out looking strong, but I am going to call this an Usos victory. They’re arguably the faces here, and in the midst of their best run in the company’s history, so they could use the rub. Still, this is probably going to be a great match, so it’s one to get hyped for.
Winner: Jimmy and Jey
Losers: The Irish-Swiss alliance
Paul: The Usos have consistently had the match of the night against the New Day in recent PPVs. Even with different opponents, I don’t see that changing here. Sheamus and Cesaro are a perfect matchup for them. This should be an exciting match with a lot of cool spot moves. This could go either way, but I think that the Usos manage to pull this one out with a clean win.
Winner: The Usos
Loser: Whoever decides to take a bathroom break during this match.
Nathaniel: I have always been a huge fan of tag team wrestling and am looking forward to this match. This match will probably top The Bar/not-original Shield matches and challenge the Usos/New Day series. There are also long term ramifications here — if the Usos win they are probably a lock to break the Young Bucks stranglehold on the Wrestling Observer Tag Team of the Year Award. I’m going with a Shesaro victory leading to Steenerico running down the Usos on the next episode of SmackDown.
Winners: The Bar
Losers: Anyone who chants, “This is Awesome!” It is inevitable for this match and it will be deserved but please, just stop.
Champion vs. Champion: Charlotte Vs. Alexa Bliss
Brian: Charlotte won in her hometown and got a (possibly) actual surprise return from The Nature Boy/early frontrunner for worst parent of the decade. This makes things much harder to predict. I can’t believe that a few weeks ago I thought this would be a Team Red rout. I’m looking forward to the best match we could have seen on this card that doesn’t involve Becky fookin’ Lynch.
Winner: The Queen
Loser: The Tiny One
Jason: First off, it has to be said that this is a MUCH better match than what we would have otherwise had. Natty may be a lovely human being, but she is a s--t wrestler/performer. Charlotte is a much better choice to face off with the Goddess of the red brand, and she should trounce Little Miss Bliss. I like Alexa, but Charlotte drinks her milkshake all day, every day.
Winner: The limousine riding, jet flying, kiss stealin’, wheelin’ dealin daughter of a gun. Charlotte Flair.
Loser: Natty. I don’t think she’s even going to make the show, which is good for fans of fun and competent wrestling, but bad for her.
Paul: This is probably the match I’m most looking forward to on the entire card. I love Charlotte, and Alexa Bliss has been the best part about the women’s division over the last year in my opinion. I think that the tall and strong Charlotte will match up really well with the small and athletic Bliss. I hope that they actually give this match the time that it deserves, and let it be as awesome as it could be. With all of the Flair stuff recently, I don’t see there being any chance of Charlotte losing here though.
Loser: No one, because this match will be amazing.
Nathaniel: This card is full of intrigue, huh? Charlotte just won the SmackDown Title, while Bliss has to be kept strong for Asuka. Alexa Bliss has her assets, but ringwork is not one of them. That being said, Charlotte will carry Alexa to an enjoyable match before beating her clean. On the plus side, these results won’t matter within a month anyway. (Remember when Dolph Ziggler destroyed The Authority? Don’t worry, neither does anyone else.)
Loser: Fans of long term booking
The Shield Vs. The New Day
Brian: When The Shield broke up, we were at the start of a new age of three-man teams, including a new team of preachers(?) called The New Day. Three years later, The Shield is back, rejuvenated and taking on the most consistently entertaining trio WWE has ever seen. Using Big E’s numbers from SmackDown on Tuesday night, the six men have a combined 41 title reigns. This is very nearly the most decorated match on the card and they have four fewer men than the main event. The New Day has had the best matches on the past several Smackdown Pay-Per-Views, and The Shield reunion has been a breath of fresh air, giving all three men new purpose. This has all the makings of a classic, “screw you, follow this” match and I can’t wait for this one.
Winner: Um, The Shield. I don’t care. We all win because this is on the card.
Loser: The main event.
Jason: This is another match impacted by a last minute title change, except that no one got shafted by this decision. Quite the contrary — this should be an awesome outing for both teams. If WWE isn’t going to sign The Elite, then a Shield-New Day match is the biggest 6-man dream match that the company could do. I kind of wish the WWE had spent more time building this, but Roman’s illness kind of left the company in a lurch for a while there. I think it’ll be a barnburner, but there’s no doubt that The Shield are walking away with the W in this. I love the New Day, but the WWE front office loves Roman Reigns more. The SWAT squad will dump the ice cream merchants with a cerberus power bomb to try and give Roman the rub.
Winner: Fans of flack jackets
Loser: Scotland (their national animal is the unicorn)
Paul: I think that this will easily be the match that the fans are most into. A fully reunited Shield against one of the most popular teams of the last couple years. I see this competing with the Tag Team Title match for match of the night, but I feel that will slightly edge this one out. This is also the most predictable match on the card, because there’s absolutely no way that a newly reunited Shield loses.
Winner: The Shield
Loser: Whichever New Day member has to take a triple power bomb through a table.
Nathaniel: The Shield vs The Wyatts from Elimination Chamber 2014 is one of the best WWE six mans ever and that match has a fat swamp wizard and a vintner. This match has six guys who can go on the big stage. If you can only watch one match from the show, this should be your pick.
Winner: The Shield
Loser: Fans who enjoy seeing Roman in his proper role as the silent bad ass on a team. This is not for the long run. Sufferin’ succotash!
Champion vs. Champion: AJ Styles Vs. Brock Lesnar
Brian: Up until last week, the scheduled match was going to be either Brock scandalizing Jinder Mahal or a disaster. Those were the only two options. Now we get to live in a world where AJ-freaking-Styles will take on Brock-freaking-Lesnar. The true Best in the World, regardless of the Alpha-Omega match in New Japan, versus the most dominant champion in decades. I don’t need build, I just need more impassioned speeches like we got from AJ and his advocate Daniel Bryan. Let’s do this!
Winner: EVERYONE (but probably Brock)
Loser: The Modern Day Maha…rrrrrrajah
Jason: Is it weird that this match was less clear when one of the competitors in this match was less talented? Though he was never going to pin him, there was a chance that Jinder Mahal would’ve found a way to skeeve out a victory. With AJ Styles, this will undoubtedly be a better match, but it’s a lot clearer that Brock is taking this one. It’ll be a fun back and forth if Lesnar allows it to be, but I entirely expect Brock to catch AJ mid-Phenomenal Forearm, hit an F5 and then march on to the next chump before he inevitably loses to Roman at WrestleMania. As for AJ, I imagine he’ll have to ward off some kind of Jinder interference at one point to set up their next match.
Winner: Bork Laser
Loser: Jinder. This would’ve been his biggest match ever, and now he’s been reduced to a potential run-in.
Paul: I don’t know if I’ve ever been happier for a title change than when AJ Styles won the WWE Title. Imagine how much better this match will be than Brock vs. Jinder. Yuck! In my opinion, solo Brock matches haven’t been good in a while, and he generally looks gassed after about five minutes. If anyone could pull a five star match out of literally anybody though, it’s AJ Styles. I doubt that this will be a classic, but I think that it will be very memorable. The only bad thing is that I see them doing a double count out, or some other sort of weird ending to keep either title from looking weak.
Winner: Us, because we get to see Brock Lesnar vs. AJ Styles
Loser: Not us, because we don’t have to see Brock Lesnar vs. Jinder Mahal
Nathaniel: I agree with Jason. Putting AJ in leaves even less room for doubt regarding the result. D-Bry did an admirable job of building AJ up but there are bigger plans in motion. Brock pins AJ clean after one F-5.
Winner: Brock Lesnar
Loser: Anyone who has not pencilled in Big Dog to pin Brock clean for the strap at Mania.
Survivor Series Match: Team SmackDown (Shane McMahon, Randy Orton, Bobby Roode, Shinsuke Nakamura, John Cena) Vs. Team Raw (Kurt Angle, Braun Strowman, Samoa Joe, Finn Balor, Triple H)
Brian: Hang on, I’m going kayfabe on this one. There’s a meme going around talking about the average age of these teams. BRAUN is the youngest at 34, while Shane tops the list at 47. So what? Would these armchair armdraggers care to point me to some twenty-somethings who could hold the top of the card together? Let’s change the conversation here and ask who shouldn’t be involved. I would have preferred that both Angle and Shane were forced to be managers rather than participants, but that’s NEVER going to happen. SmackDown was looking thin a week or two ago with only one former world champion and two out-of-company vets in Roode and Nakamura who have yet to really prove their mettle in a WWE ring. As wrestlers, they, along with Randy Orton, can clearly go, but don’t have enough star power on their own. So, SDL needs a big name. Who else could they choose? Ziggler? Mojo Rawley? Once AJ Styles won the WWE Title there were no other top tier options. So, in comes the eternal savior of WWE, John Cena. In response, I think Stephanie McMahon was right. Yeah, I said it. Jason Jordan? Why? What has he done to deserve to be in this match? He threw vegetables at Elias. Wheeeeeeeeee. He’s a mid-card tag wrestler who tried to whine and wheedle his illegitimate father into keeping him in a match in which he had no business being. Trips is the only choice here. No one not already on the card can equal the impact of the 14-time champ. Listen, Papa H is best H and I’m thrilled with his NXT. Hell, 4 NXT alum are in the match, all of whom were NXT champs. But this is angry, beardy H. He just kicked a crying millennial in the gut and Pedigreed him in front of his father. Angry husband H is ready for action. To quote the most insightful commentator in wrestling today, Booker T, this is gon’ be good!
Winner: BRAUN and Team Raw
Loser: Team Blue and Shane’s prospects for living past 50
Jason: Given the other matches on the card, I kind of feel underwhelmed looking at this lineup. The luster of Kurt Angle dimmed after his match with the Shield (he’s unfortunately showing his age), Shane’s not a real competitor, Trips is past his prime, Bobby Roode and Shinsuke have never been fully developed, Finn was recently trounced by a 50-year old middle manager in a red rubber mask and Orton is among the most boring champions of all time. That leaves Joe, Braun and Cena as genuine top guys in this match. Add to it that Kurt’s job is allegedly on the line and I think it’s clear that the red team is clinching this. I picture shenanigans from Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn and Kane being involved in the decision, but I envision Kurt standing tall at the end of the match…and then maybe a post-match swerve by Jason Jordan to set things moving forward.
Winner: Raw all day
Loser: Roode and Shinsuke, who will be asked to eat pins at a point in their careers where they should be built up, not humbled.
Nathaniel: For years now WWE multi-man matches have been all about making everyone gasp during epic staredowns. Trips-Shane, Finn-Nak, and Joe-Cena will all get some time to stare at each other. Also count on some dissention between Cena and Orton. As for the match itself? Well, we have already learned that shoot nepotism trumps worked nepotism. Jason’s right about Roode and Nak. You can also count on Braun and Kane brawling to a DQ or CO. I get the feeling Angle’s GM run is over, and Cena is the sole survivor. But the big moment will be when Nak cleanly eliminates HHH. Fans will rush to the internet to praise HHH who will immediately follow his surprise elimination by utterly destroying Shinsuke and doing what he does best: ending up as simultaneously the biggest face and heel on the show.
Loser: Everyone who thought Kane’s days as an upper mid carder were over after Survivor Series.
Paul: This is one of many main events this year that I wish I cared more about. I liked Shane McMahon, Kurt Angle, and Triple H in 2001. John Cena and Randy Orton were part of the younger generation more than a decade ago. I’m glad that guys like Nakamura, Roode, Samoa Joe, and Balor are finally getting a chance to be main event WWE Superstars, but they’re all way up there in age. I would have loved to see some younger wrestlers in this match, but then again, who would that be? Jason Jordan? It goes to show how poor WWE has been at building up their young talent when I’m having a difficult time thinking of any wrestlers under 30 who would make sense in this match. Anyway, I’m guessing this ends with Triple H and Samoa Joe as the sole survivors, since Triple H still has to prove that he’s the best.
Winner: Team Raw
Loser: Anyone who looks at Shane’s face after about five minutes.