John: Welcome to the TJRWrestling WWE Survivor Series preview. The Raw and Smackdown brands are presenting the show together from the Air Canada Centre in Toronto for a show that begins on Sunday at 7pmET with an expected four hour run time.
In terms of the order that we are listing the matches, I put the men’s elimination tag match last because I think that’s going to end the show. They could end it with Goldberg vs. Lesnar obviously, but if the crowd hates the match or it’s bad then that’s a bad way to end the night. I think ending the show with a long elimination match with plenty of star power is the right way to go. Then again, WWE has been off all year in terms of what match should end the show.
I’ve already done multiple podcasts about this show as well as another preview at The Comeback, so I’m going to get right to the point with my predictions. Since I’m also reviewing every Survivor Series, I guess you can say I’m tired of talking about the Survivor Series. I was going to put “lol” but it’s true, it’s damn true.
Joining me for the preview are Kurt Zamora, Matty J. Douglas and Mike Holland.
Kurt: I’ve advocated for the return of more traditional Survivor Series matches to this PPV and with the Network, they now can take more chances like that. I like this card on paper, but clearly the booking to get us here has been mind-numbing to say the least. If WWE can get out of its own way though and just let the action in the ring dictate the night, this should be a really good show. It’ll be a really hot crowd as it’s been forever since Toronto has had a PPV. I’m sure they’ll try to hijack it in their own way, but at least we don’t have to hear Jerry Lawler call it, “Bizarro World”.
Mike: Let’s give credit where it’s due: WWE is strongly and clearly trying to present Survivor Series as a viable member of the vaunted Big 4 events on its calendar, something which they’ve struggled mightily to do since seemingly ever. Part of that challenge is a practical one; unlike the Royal Rumble, where the battle itself encourages multiple storylines even amongst the losers and the shroud of a championship match hangs heavy over the proceedings, the Series simply has a bunch of guys fighting over bragging rights and nary a title in sight. The concept got so top-heavy that it’s been abandoned multiple times over its life, but has been resurrected in a major way as a battleground for the brands in their ongoing storyline war that’s been (let’s face it) epically one-sided in favor of the blues thus far.
In addition to the brand implications, the Series is devoting four solid hours to tell (as of press time) six stories. That’s a heck of a lot more than we’re used to seeing, and should allow for ample development of plenty of characters. Despite neither big belt being on the line, the card feels important with major repercussions for both title matches. And then there’s the small matter of Goldberg vs. Lesnar II, a tiny tete-a-tete you may have heard of. All in all, I give WWE wicked props for pushing the big spectacle side of things for this card. Will all of this stuffing lead to a Thanksgiving feast for wrestling fans? The answer, sadly, might give you indigestion.
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Team Raw vs. Team Smackdown Live in a 10-on-10 Traditional Survivor Series Tag Team Elimination Match
Team Raw – The New Day, Enzo Amore & Big Cass, Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson, Cesaro & Sheamus and The Shining Stars
Team Smackdown – Heath Slater & Rhyno, The Hype Bros, American Alpha, The Usos and Breezango
Kurt: I can only imagine that the purpose of this match is to get new challengers for each side’s champions moving forward. When you see this lineup, it’s quite glaring how lacking the depth is in the tag division. American Alpha is the best team of the ten, but feel like an afterthought as they’re hardly on Smackdown these days. The Spirit Squad gets more TV time than they do.
I predict Raw to win this match, strictly because they have more star power on their team, despite the fact that none of them are booked correctly.
For the Smackdown side, I would have Slater and Rhyno eliminated early, maybe directly after The Fashion Police (I’m refusing to call them Breezango now) get eliminated. That way, any combination of The Hype Bros, The Usos & American Alpha can be the last team left standing for Smackdown before being eliminated, and justify their spot at being #1 Contenders. I think that team should be American Alpha, but of course I wouldn’t be mad if it was The Hype Bros. Yes, I’m biased.
I would leave it to The New Day & Enzo/Cass vs. American Alpha and give the fans the three teams they’d be most crazy for and let them have a fun as hell finish. Then Enzo and Cass can say they’re deserving of a shot against The New Day since they were survivors too.
Survivors: The New Day & Enzo/Cass
Matt: Holy crap this match is going to be a clusterbleep. Seriously, my head is starting to hurt just thinking about it. Have there even been this many people in the Royal Rumble at any given moment?
This is going to become a theme, but I’m going to have to say this every single time so that it isn’t glossed over for even a second: what in the damn hell is the point of this? Seriously, what incentive does anybody in this match have to win it? Or even be in it? Or to put up with the members of their own team that they supposedly hate to be in it? Do they get anything for winning? The answer to that question in a resounding, nope. Do they get in any trouble for losing? Nope. Then why in the bloody blue f*#% am I supposed to give a damn about anything that I’ll see?
They could have had fun with this. They could have had New Day trying to bring the team together with trust building exercises in the weeks leading up to this. They could have had funny skits where the Shining Stars offered up their resort as a team building retreat. Those skits could have been funny and clever and resulted in some semblance of team unity, which would be shattered when everyone sees the bills for their stay courtesy of the Shining Stars, who are promptly left out to dry in the match, are eliminated and inadvertently unite the rest of the team. Instead we got… nothing.
Picking Survivors here is tough, because there are literally no narrative implications to help indicate where the story should or could go. Nonetheless I’ll try.
Survivors: The New Day and Cesaro & Sheamus (because when in doubt I roll with New Day, and Sheamus & Cesaro just because it could help their buddy cop thing… maybe sort of?)
Mike: The good part about having a match with ten tag teams is you really can cram almost everyone onto your show. The bad part about having a match with ten tag teams is you have to cram almost everyone onto your show. Of all the traditional Series matches to be featured this Sunday, this encounter between blue and red has the most filler in terms of obvious choices to not be getting their hands raised. (Looking at you, Shining Stars. You too, Hype Bros. And you, Breezango.)
Matches like this give you plenty of action, but I’m not confident it will add up to the sum of its parts as there’s just too much going on. I would expect several fairly quick eliminations to separate the wheat from the chaff, and if you’re looking to define chaff simply read the names in the first paragraph again. There’s little doubt that Raw possesses the lion’s share of the talent, so if you’re predicting this match on paper they are a shoo-in. I’d forgive anyone who felt like this was the perfect opportunity to give the crowd what they want with a New Day win, but since their belts aren’t on the line they have literally nothing to lose here. Toss in the threatening tone (and solid winning streak) of Gallows & Anderson lately and you’ve got the makings of an upset.
Sheamus and Cesaro are scripted to implode at some point (again) during the match, and I’d imagine The Usos might make the lives of Smackdown Tag champions Rhyno and Heath Slater difficult in order to set up that rematch. I’ve always felt WWE misplayed their hot hand with American Alpha, derailing their buzz in a goofy angle. This would be the perfect opportunity to remedy that oversight.
Survivors: American Alpha from Team Smackdown Live
John: The best team on Smackdown is American Alpha. They haven’t received the kind of push a lot of us wanted because I think WWE wants to make it happen for them around WrestleMania. I can see The Usos winning the Tag Titles from Slater & Rhyno soon leading to that title change around WrestleMania. In order to get American Alpha ready for a moment like that, booking them as the winners of a match like this is going to accomplish that goal.
It would be easy to put over a Raw team because Enzo and Cass as well as Gallows and Anderson. The New Day doesn’t need to win because they’re already the tag champions on a 15 month title reign. I can see those teams having problems with eachother, which is what will allow American Alpha to swoop in for the victory.
Survivors: American Alpha (Chad Gable & Jason Jordan) from Smackdown
Cruiserweight Championship: Brian Kendrick vs. Kalisto (If Kalisto wins then the Cruiserweight Division goes to Smackdown)
Kurt: Unfortunately, as it pertains to this match, I think convenience is going to overrule logic. As good as Smackdown is, there are many weeks where it teeters on the brink of overly rushed. They don’t get the luxury of longer matches like Raw and there are plenty of weeks where there are talents that aren’t even on the show at all (see my point above about American Alpha.) So that being said, there’s simply no room for an entire new division on the show. Also, despite the fact this is Kalisto’s first match in the Cruiserweight division, he’s deserving of a title shot?
The better play would’ve been for Smackdown to outsmart Raw and find a loophole for the division. Have Daniel Bryan say that even though the division is exclusive to Raw, the competitors are not exclusive. They’re signed on a per deal basis (which in most instances, is true). Say that Bryan is signing someone like Tony Nese or Cedric Alexander to a Smackdown deal for Survivor Series, and if they win the title, then the division comes to Smackdown that way. There’s no real fix for the first issue, but there was a fix for the second as Kalisto, besides his size, makes no sense in this spot. As for the first issue, I’m sure with 205 Live being taped at Smackdown, it’s just convenient for Smackdown to have the title and they’ll figure it out from there. It’s a shame as I think Brian Kendrick has been fantastic, but this does nothing for him.
Prediction: Kalisto becomes new Cruiserweight Champion (The Cruiserweight Division moves to Smackdown)
Matt: The only other match on this card that matters in the grand scheme of things, and it could be a doozy. There’s a whole division on the line in this one folks, and the implications of this match couldn’t get any bigger. Now it could have been built better. Kalisto could have been on TV more so that people would believe he’d win. Instead the first time I saw him was this week on Smackdown.
With Kalisto’s television absence being the only hiccup here, this could be a really cool match that could swing the Cruiserweight Division into a whole new trajectory. On Raw the division is trending down, and with the debut of 205 Live in the future, to be taped after Smackdown on Tuesdays, the division moving to Smackdown Live seems like a natural fit. It could also give Stephanie something to fire back at Foley (whose idea it was to put the whole Cruiserweight Division on the line) in my fantasy scenario where she trades Foley’s guy Sami Zayn to Smackdown as a way to game the Intercontinental Title onto Raw.
Even without the Zayn trade, etc. I still like moving the Cruiserweight Division and Title to Smackdown, with 205 Live starting soon. It just seems like too much of a hassle to have them wrestling Mondays, then for an hour on Tuesday. Just put them with The Smackdown Roster and make everybody’s lives easier.
Winner and New Intercontinental Champion: Kalisto (because I’m taking a gamble on this one. It’s a reasonable thing to do given the Cruiserweight exclusive 205 Live taping after Smackdown)
Mike: The trials and tribulations of Raw’s cruiserweight division are too numerous to list, but the gist is this: it’s not even close to the Cruiserweight Classic, either in presentation or execution, and therefore it’s just more dead time in between exhaustive promos each and every Monday evening. I wanted the cruisers on Smackdown since the beginning, and therefore WWE has seen fit to dangle the carrot in front of me and all of you by suggesting that should Brian Kendrick lose to Kalisto on Sunday, he and all his brethren will be headed over to the blue side of the ledger.
It’s a mouth-wateringly tantalizing proposition, but to presume that WWE would admit its errors in judgment and allow for such an overhaul to take place is as ludicrous as Bob Dylan winning a Nobel prize. I’ve heard the logic that the Network’s new cruiserweight show being filmed on Tuesdays with Smackdown points at a Kalisto victory, but I don’t think the two are even tangentially related other than the fact that Mauro Ranallo will be calling both. Kalisto hasn’t even been featured on Smackdown programming for longer than a cup of coffee since the draft. He’s going to ride in and claim a championship?
Let’s not forget that Kendrick just won the belt from inaugural champion TJ Perkins. To have this belt flip back and forth with abandon risks labeling it as a pseudo-Hardcore Title to be not taken seriously and passed around by also-rans and never-weres. The cruisers deserve better. While Smackdown would benefit greatly from having their ring action augmented by this division, Raw has more time to let them tell their tales. They just need to do a better job telling them. Kalisto may in fact be Cruiserweight Champ one day. After he’s drafted to Raw.
Winner (and STILL Cruiserweight Champion): THE Brian Kendrick
John: I think the cruiserweight division should stay on Raw because it’s the longer show and moving them to Smackdown will do more harm than good. If they were on Smackdown, they would have short matches like Kalisto’s match on this last Smackdown where he won in two minutes. The convenience is that 205 Live takes place after Smackdown starting November 29, so I think WWE is going to do the title change because it’s convenient.
My feeling is that since WWE is going out of their way to push this “whole division moves with the title” story then they’re going to do it. I don’t think it’s the right move and I hope I’m wrong with the prediction, but that’s how I think it will go.
Winner and New Cruiserweight Champion: Kalisto
Intercontinental Championship: The Miz vs. Sami Zayn (If Zayn wins then IC Title goes to Raw with him)
Kurt: The difference between Smackdown and Raw can be equated to two storylines this year: Roman Reigns vs. Rusev on Raw and The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler on Smackdown. Both have had a ton of matches against each other, but no one is complaining that the Smackdown feud needs to end already. Now, with The Miz once again capturing the title under nefarious standards, the story has another layer to it.
This match against Zayn intrigues me for a myriad of reasons. If Zayn wins, would the IC Title stay on Raw permanently or would they just do a tease where Smackdown looks to be without a secondary title for a while and then ends up getting Zayn in some sort of trade? With Ziggler not involved in the show at all, will he interfere in this match and ensure somehow that the title stays on Smackdown, just so he can guarantee his rematch against The Miz?
Also, where does Daniel Bryan stand? He reluctantly admitted on Talking Smack this week that he’s cheering for The Miz, but is he really? Lastly, it’s just nice to see a match between a pure babyface against a pure heel. Since I’m always the optimist, I’m going to predict that Zayn will win the IC Title, but will still somehow end up on Smackdown, and rather quickly, because I also predict a Triple Threat match against Miz and Ziggler at TLC.
Prediction: New Intercontinental Champion, Sami Zayn
Matt: One of two things on this show that actually matters. I will be into this match because there are real implications as far as who wins and who loses. It’s funny how stakes can make a story compelling. Kinda makes you wish every match had some semblance of narrative significance, but I digress.
I was looking forward to Zayn vs. Ziggler, and was pretty thoroughly surprised to see Miz win the belt on Tuesday to take his place in the match. I still think the bout will be entertaining, but Ziggler and Zayn could have had an opportunity to steal the show. The big question is what is going to happen here? Is it going to be as straight forward as Miz retaining and keeping the title on Smackdown? Or will there be funny business here?
What if Miz comes out first and demands a trade to Monday Night Raw, so he won’t have to deal with Daniel Bryan anymore? Stephanie comes out and says she’d love to have him and the Title on Raw, and agrees to try to work out a trade. Sami Zayn comes out confused, and Steph says she doesn’t believe he has what it takes to win the title even if Foley does, and offers a Sami Zayn for Miz Trade before the match begins. Bryan comes out and accepts the trade terms. The whole match and its implications flip. Obviously, Sami wins and keeps the title on Smackdown, while Stephanie can get an earful on Monday for trading Sami Zayn, who Foley believed in, without his consent. Miz can also get fired for losing on Monday Night, and have to return to Smackdown with his tail between his legs. Smackdown of course takes Miz back, after putting him through the ringer.
Winner and Still Intercontinental Champion: The Miz (because I’ll never bet on the WWE doing something interesting at a PPV. At least this straightforward narrative can still lead to Strong Style vs. Soft Style for the IC Belt in the New Year)
Mike: I’ve written many times that professional wrestling reminds me of magic, in that it’s all about the misdirection. You may be a bit disappointed when you find out just how that sausage is made, but as long as it’s done well you won’t be complaining at breakfast. The feud over the Intercontinental Title has been one of the biggest reasons Smackdown has been kicking Raw’s tail since the brand split, and that’s a credit to the Miz and his development as a character on a show that gives him time and space to do so. I confess that I was indeed surprised when the suddenly-relevant Dolph Ziggler’s train got derailed when he dropped the title back to Mr. Maryse this past week, but it clicked with me a bit later that it actually makes this Survivor Series match even easier to forecast.
It’s a bit strange that Miz is expected to fulfill the contract obligation set up by the chap he just bested for the belt and defend the title from Raw, but let’s not dig too deeply. This match is certain to have Ziggler’s fingerprints all over it, and you can be assured he will be involved in the outcome. It just might not be in the way you’d expect. For Sami Zayn, a change to the blue brand would be heaven on earth. He’s been thoroughly stuck in neutral on Raw, and is insanely over with the fans. Sadly, that feel-good story doesn’t hold water. It makes zero sense to let one of the biggest selling points of Smackdown to flip over to the brand that has everything, and Zayn can make his way to Tuesdays organically enough later. Dolph will get his revenge over the underhanded Miz in this match, and conveniently ensure his brand keeps that gold.
Winner (and STILL Intercontinental Champion): The Miz
John: I think the Intercontinental Title has been booked very well since the brand split. Yes, it’s been traded back and forth between Miz and Dolph Ziggler, but the match quality has been there as well as putting over the importance of the title. Their promos were just as good as their matches, if not better.
I was surprised that WWE would have Miz win the IC Title back from Ziggler on the last Smackdown. I assume that was done so they could have the popular Zayn – in his home country of Canada – win the title from a heel like Miz instead of beating another face like Ziggler.
Like with the Cruiserweight Title, I’d prefer to keep the IC Title where it is. I’m predicting a title change even though I think something is going to happen soon to bring Zayn to Smackdown with the IC Title. Whether it’s a trade or they say he’s a free agent, I just think he’s going to end up on Smackdown with the IC Title. It just doesn’t make sense to have the IC & US Titles on Raw while there’s no midcard title on Smackdown for the male wrestlers.
Winner: Sami Zayn wins the Intercontinental Title
Team Raw vs. Team Smackdown Live in a 5-on-5 Traditional Survivor Series Women’s Elimination Match
Team Raw – Charlotte, Sasha Banks, Bayley, Nia Jax and Alicia Fox with Dana Brooke in their corner
Team Smackdown – Nikki Bella, Becky Lynch, Alexa Bliss, Carmella and Naomi with Natalya in their corner
Kurt: Hey everyone, remember when sweet, innocent Bayley jumped in on a 5 on 1 gang style beat down of Nikki Bella? Wasn’t that fun for the whole family? I sent out a tweet after Smackdown that was in direct reference to this match, talking about how the logic of this match is completely out the window, yet somehow I’m excited for it. Was it the crowd that inexplicably popped big time for it, both on Raw and Smackdown? Was it the fact that it’s the only time for the foreseeable future that The Four Horsewomen can be in the same ring together? Was I drunk? All are possible answers.
They will get a ton of time in this match, maybe being the only positive to this show being four hours long, and I think has a real possibility to steal the show as there is clearly a ton of talent in the ring. That is, if we overlook the fact that again I tell you BAYLEY WAS IN ON A 5 ON 1 GANG STYLE BEAT DOWN, Sasha came out FIRST to help Charlotte, and Carmella and Nikki were acting all chummy together on Talking Smack while barely remembering to slip in the fact that they’ve been feuding for the last three months. Maybe that’s what WWE is counting on, for the in-ring action to make us forget logic altogether. It’s a brilliant plan if so. Maybe too brilliant for me to give them credit to think that way. I digress.
The only finish here that makes sense is to have it come down to Charlotte, Sasha, & Bayley vs. Becky. Becky eliminates Sasha, maybe due to Dana on the outside making a mistake or Charlotte costing Sasha, and then have either Charlotte or Bayley eliminate Becky. Then we can go back to complaining about things that make sense.
Survivors: Charlotte & Bayley
Matt: Another meaningless Traditional Survivor Series Match. I already miss talking about matches that matter. Nothing good has come out of the build for this 5 on 5 bout. Bayley is invading Smackdown and joining in on a 5 on 1 beatdown of Nikki Bella, which betrays literally everything we know about The Bayley character (and for what?). Sasha is standing side by side with Charlotte, who just embarrassed her in her hometown. Becky Lynch, Smackdown’s Women’s Champion, is gleefully kowtowing to team leader Nikki Bella as conversely Raw’s Women’s Champion Charlotte leads her brand’s team. What in god’s name have we done to deserve this kind of character and narrative negligence?
The only good thing that came from this, is my affinity for Alexa Bliss has grown. She’s the only one on either team that is still acting like her character. During the big team interview on Talking Smack, Alexa seemed disinterested in participating with the other ladies and outright disdainful of Becky and Nikki Bella. Thank you Alexa, for understanding your character and how she would act in this situation.
What if Sasha and Bayley didn’t join the Smackdown invasion and were chastised for it by the rest of their team. Maybe they are shunned by the team during the match? Anything that could add some tension here. Instead we have 10 characters who do not benefit from winning, nor do they suffer in defeat. They have nothing on the line, and neither does the audience. We don’t have brand allegiances and we don’t buy these Women’s brand allegiances because there were no brands a few months ago! Again, picking Survivors is a shot in the dark because there’s no stakes.
Survivors: Becky Lynch (because I see her being the last member of Team Smackdown and Sasha, Charlotte and Bayley remaining for Raw. Becky going the distance and beating all three of the other members of the Four Horsewomen would be a cool moment)
Mike: Raw’s paper dominance shows in this tilt as well, with Alicia Fox’s presence the only question mark on their side of the ledger. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m more than happy to see Dana Brooke reduced to a sideline reporter.) Charlotte and Sasha just literally made history, Bayley is finally getting the push we’d expected since her main roster debut, and Nia Jax just doesn’t lose. As in ever. All of that adds up to a very solid group.
For Smackdown, there are questions aplenty. Let’s start with the fact that their champion Becky Lynch seems to have taken a backseat to Nikki Bella. We can further wonder how in the hell Natalya gets minimized to a guest star role on a team with the likes of Carmella on it. Lynch’s lengthy feud with Alexa Bliss and Bella’s own battle with Carmella may prove fractious for their team. As for Naomi? Well, at least we know there will be a cool entrance.
There can be little doubt that Smackdown and Raw each need to win one of these things to be credible. Consider it a 2-out-of-3 falls card if you will. That means whoever wins the tag match will not be winning this one. The Charlotte/Sasha/Bayley triangle has essentially been playing out since NXT, and there’s no reason to slow the roll. Intrigue will abound as we progress toward the likely Bayley title shot. The difficult challenge will be protecting Jax, but there are plenty of ways to do that without her winning. I see either a demolition of Fox from her own team to prove a point or a disqualification after viciously taking out the opposition. Charlotte flat out doesn’t lose on PPV. The catch here? She’ll be bringing along her new rival.
Survivors: Charlotte and Bayley from Team Raw
John: It’s a tough match to predict because you can make a case for almost anybody in this match to go far. Alicia Fox is the only one where you know she’s not going to win. Naomi may seem like she has no chance, but if WWE wants to get behind her then perhaps this is the time to do it. Carmella seems unlikely to go very far either.
I think it’s going to be about building up challengers on the Raw side. That means Charlotte doesn’t have to survive even with her undefeated PPV record. That record is more impressive for title matches, not tag team elimination matches anyway. I’m thinking more of Bayley being a survivor because she’s likely going to be the next challenge to Charlotte’s title. Sasha Banks may seem like an obvious choice too, but I’d rather see Nia Jax as a survivor. It would be stupid to have somebody pin Jax or make her submit in a match like this. Losing by disqualification or countout is possible. I’d rather see her get put over strong, so I’m going Bayley and Jax as the survivors.
Survivors: Bayley & Nia Jax (Raw)
Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg
Kurt: I’m sorry to be the Debbie Downer here, as this match justifiably has a lot of hype and momentum going here. More so that I would’ve ever expected. Goldberg has been fantastic in his role, delivering some tremendous promos, which was never his persona before, while also washing a lot of the stench off his previous run in WWE. I’ve been really happy for him and his family who had never gotten to see this side of him before, as he is genuinely one of the good guys in the business. The crowd reactions have been amazing, which was a relief that Minneapolis was just bad booking by Vince more than fans not being interested in Goldberg.
That being said, I’m going to be Debbie Downer here because I just don’t want to see this match. It’s not even that I think it’ll be bad. If everything goes to plan and Goldberg actually has a good match in him, I think this will be quite the spectacle. I was even getting myself hyped up for this match after the intense face to face meeting they had this past Monday. Then this came out on Wednesday. It’s not exactly reassuring when after barely any physical interaction, he’s talking about how his body feels horrible and his shoulder is now hurt. I’m sure WWE is none too pleased that Goldberg would be that forward about his health, but that’s just who Goldberg is. When I combine that with what happened to Lesnar’s last opponent at SummerSlam and the fact that I can’t get Sting’s last match out of my mind and how that ended for him… well I just don’t get a good feeling for this match.
This can’t end well. Sting had taken far more bumps in the last 12 years than Goldberg had, and despite what anyone may say, Rollins is a far safer a worker than Lesnar. So I can’t help but feel this match is not going to have a good ending. Then we’ll all be realizing that this wasn’t a match we all wanted to see again. I hope it’s as easy as Goldberg taking a 2nd or 3rd F5 and being pinned and everything is ok, but unfortunately, that’s a finish for Fantasy Warfare. This will be far too real.
Prediction: Brock Lesnar
Matt: The build up to this match was a lot of fun. I thought Goldberg has been great every step of the way (minus one stumble when kneeing Rusev) and Brock has been Brock. Unfortunately, Brock being Brock is the reason that I don’t think this match will be fun. I haven’t enjoyed a Brock match in some time, and am now trained to expect the worst.
Hopefully the match is fun. Hopefully Goldberg still has a little in the tank, although the reports of him throwing out his shoulder on Raw aren’t encouraging (though they could be a smokescreen?). Hopefully it’s something that I can say I was happy to be in attendance to witness. Unfortunately, you have the limited skill set of an older, rusty Goldberg, and the creative indifference of an unmotivated Brock Lesnar. That my friends is a recipe for disappointment.
I’d rather be caught off guard with something surprisingly good, that mad because my expectations were too high. Thus, I am keeping my expectations extra low. Also, if you must know, I’ll be chanting Goldberg, even if nobody else in Toronto is.
Winner: Brock Lesnar (because there’s literally no other way for this to go)
Mike: I’ve had about enough of that whole “fantasy warfare” line, and admit to being more than a little confused on what it means when this match has happened once already. It’s hard to discuss the importance of this match without feeling the sour taste of what happened the first time these two behemoths squared off. That encounter was perhaps doomed for failure from the outset, as the political machinations behind the scenes and the reaction of the fans in the building joined forces to create a maelstrom from which neither could escape. The difference is that it’s the last thing we remember of Goldberg while Lesnar has continued to wreak havoc within the WWE, albeit over a most interesting journey of his own.
I would love to tell you that this match will be great, or even very good. I fervently hope it’s better than Lesnar/Orton, and it has every chance to be given that Goldberg stacks up much more evenly physically speaking with the Beast. Unfortunately I’ve seen little evidence that it will be better than the first time around, and I didn’t like that one very much. Goldberg isn’t too old to go, and looks pretty damn good given how much time has passed. I will even confess to marking out a bit for his initial promo. His emotion and passion came through in flying colors delivering his comeback promo, something he was never particularly solid at even in his prime. He’s a man of action, not of words, but it was one hell of a sight. Everything good about that segment has crept back to reality since then, from his flawed delivery and botched moves to his recent complaints of being injured during an in-ring segment that didn’t actually feature a lot of wrestling at all. Be it storyline or otherwise, it’s starting to smell a whole lot like cover.
The only ghost of a chance for Goldberg is that Shane McMahon gets involved in this match, evening things up with Lesnar after what went down between them not too long ago. But McMahon has his own fish to fry in the next match, and I think that would threaten to taint the excitement of watching this spectacle. In truth, WWE has always been a vanity project, and we know how it plays out when someone else did the heavy lifting. Witness the return of Sting if you’re looking for proof. Goldberg was someone else’s creation, and Lesnar is the man that pays the bills for them now. This match will be about what you’d expect, much ado about nothing with a great photo op and then not much. Lesnar rolls and Goldberg cashes the check. Nostalgia only carries you so far.
Winner: Brock Lesnar
John: My intrigue with this match is based on if they are going to have a competitive match that the crowd is excited about or if the crowd is going to completely crap all over it. The result of the match should be obvious with Brock Lesnar winning since he has two more years on his WWE deal while the expectation is that Goldberg is done after this match. Plans can change of course, but I doubt WWE is going to have a nearly 50-year-old Goldberg beat Lesnar when so few people have beaten Lesnar in the last four years.
Best case scenario I think we’re talking about a fun match with power moves by two guys that know how to do them. Worst case scenario is they’ll have a stinker of a match that will hurt the aura of Goldberg and remind us that guys can’t just come back from 12 years off and expect to have a great match when they rarely had those great matches in their prime.
If you want more of my thoughts on this match, I wrote an in-depth preview of it over at The Comeback by breaking it down into different categories.
Winner: Brock Lesnar
Team Raw vs. Team Smackdown Live in a 5-on-5 Traditional Survivor Series Men’s Elimination Match
Team Raw – Kevin Owens, Chris Jericho, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman
Team Smackdown – AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose, Bray Wyatt, Randy Orton and Shane McMahon (James Ellsworth is the mascot)
Kurt: With ten of the biggest names in WWE in this match, and Braun Strowman as well (see what I did there?), I would expect this match to get 45 minutes and have a ton of action and shenanigans throughout the match. I actually thought it was a slam dunk that Smackdown would win this match, since WWE tends to use matches like these to make Smackdown look like a big deal. Ultimately with nothing on the line, this match means nothing, which is another reason why I thought Smackdown would win. The Undertaker’s stern warning about anyone letting down Smackdown has changed my mind however, and led to some intrigue for me in this match because you might as well have had red flashing lights everywhere and Scott Steiner’s theme song playing to announce an angle alert.
I have a strong feeling that AJ is going to bail on the match at some point, playing up the fact that he doesn’t need to exert his energy before a big TLC match in two weeks. Once you get to TLC, AJ wins the match and just when he thinks he’s in the clear and outsmarted everyone, the gong hits and The Undertaker announces he’s coming for his soul since he warned everyone at Survivor Series and now your big Smackdown main event at Royal Rumble is a dream match between Undertaker and AJ Styles. Who would’ve ever thought it?
As for the Raw side of things, I think the Roman haters that refuse to let it go, are going to be able to add more fuel to the fire. My hunch is that there will only be one match with a sole survivor and it’ll be this match and it’ll be one Roman Reigns. That will then lead to the Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens program that’s being reported everywhere for the month of December. As far as Survivor Series matches go, this should be a really good match, but let’s just hope James Ellsworth gets his moment. I mean, it’s the Era of Ellsworth baby!
Survivor: Roman Reigns
Matt: Say it along with me folks: What the hell is the point of this? I really hoped going into Monday night, when Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan were announced to be on Monday Night Raw, that it was an indication that the stakes were about to be raised. They weren’t. In fact, I can’t think of a less entertaining segment that furthered absolutely no narratives whatsoever. It was a 20 minute segment that accomplished nothing. Then on Smackdown The Undertaker shows up (my feelings on him are quite clear) to only further muddle this whole situation in foolishness. Nothing that happens in this match means anything! Nothing during its build has made sense for even a second! Even cool ideas were presented in ways antithetical to who these characters are! I HATE THIS MATCH! (I just needed to get that out.)
This, much like all the traditional Survivor Series matches could have had something. They just needed to put something at stake besides brand pride. I don’t take pride in either brand and I sure as hell don’t believe any of these characters do after 4 months of being split brands. Just give me a reason why any of these guys are doing this match and would be invested in its outcome? Why is Bray Wyatt wearing a Smackdown T-Shirt on Raw? His character would never do that! Why is Seth Rollins trusting Stephanie’s promise of future opportunities if he thinks she was in on Triple H’s plan to screw him over? His character should never do that! This whole thing is such a narrative departure, and we spent weeks on this departure ramp, doing absolutely nothing interesting or fun. It could have been interesting and fun!
The building of these teams should have been drawn out, with members joining in reaction to others. Shane and Daniel should have recruited AJ Styles first, with promises of a huge bonus of they win and working on a trade to get his pals The Club over to Smackdown. Once Owens finds out Styles is on the team, he adds himself to team Raw to prove that his Championship means more, along with Chris Jericho. Then Foley recruits Seth and Roman, which leads to Dean Ambrose joining Team Smackdown, because he doesn’t want his former Shield Brothers thinking they’re better than him. Finally, Foley recruits Braun, which draws Bray Wyatt and Randy to join Team Smackdown unsolicited, with a singular focus in mind, bring home the lost member of The Wyatt Family. Shane can fill out Smackdown’s team and we get to the same exact place except with storylines and motivations:
Bray wants to bring Braun home with Randy’s help, while Braun just wants to destroy things. Dean still wants to prove to be the best Shield member as do the other two (also Dean is angry that Roman is being cool with Seth after what he did to them). Owens wants to prove his Title means more than AJ’s and vice-versa. Jericho is there to support Owens. Everyone has something they are try to accomplish, unlike the real situation, where nobody really has anything to prove other than Stephanie and Shane and their arbitrary sibling rivalry.
If Survivor Series is simply an exhibition, the Pro Bowl or the WWE if you will, then don’t act like there’s anything at stake. Don’t pretend that it means anything, because it doesn’t, and anyone with a brain can see that. And if you’re going to be the Pro Bowl, at least put it in Hawaii every year.
Survivors: Dean Ambrose and AJ Styles (again, no real reason. There’s not much story to use to help figure out who will survive on this show. Just hope my sanity does)
Mike: This match should bring the house down, and rightly so. The only name that looks out of place here is of course that of Shane McMahon, and his presence guarantees a crazy spot or two to get the crowd going. There are plenty of questions to ponder heading into this one, and that’s just as it should be. You’ve got the leader of the Wyatt Family teaming with the (supposedly) newest member of the Wyatt Family going up against a former member of the Wyatt Family. You’ve got two members of The Shield (one face treated as a heel by the crowd, the other a semi-heel treated as a face by the crowd) going up against the other member of The Shield. You’ve got two Canadian best friends teaming up who have been teasing a break for months. You’ve got teams on both sides featuring the current champion of said brand and their number one contender. And you’ve got James Ellsworth. Well, it couldn’t go on forever, could it?
To me, this match is what the show comes down to: settling who WWE feels should be seen as the premier brand at the moment. Given that Raw has clearly come up short thus far, and that this eerily mirrors the situation that happened the first time the company conducted a brand split, you might think WWE uses the opportunity to put Raw on top when it matters most. That noise grows even louder when you consider that they’ve made it a point to book both Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman super solidly of late, to the point where it becomes difficult to imagine that either would take a hit courtesy of looking bad at the Series. In truth, though, what this final battle really hinges on is which threat you feel has more teeth: Raw’s Commissioner Stephanie McMahon’s vow that folks would be fired should her team come up short, or Smackdown’s returning icon Undertaker uttering that consequences would befall anyone who failed to deliver the goods. Do you see any of Raw’s team getting canned, short of Jericho? Or do you think that this match is window dressing to set the table for Undertaker’s return to active wrestling? You likely won’t need long to answer.
The ins and outs of this match have to some extent already answered themselves, and most surround what happens next in each brand. Orton and Bray will undoubtedly continue their war, and perhaps Strowman will become entangled in that also. That should guarantee they aren’t around for the finish. Rollins would be a solid pick, but the combination of friction with his own teammate in Jericho and perhaps even a surprise appearance by the Game to set up their future WrestleMania battle will prevent his ascension. AJ Styles and Dean Ambrose have had their own issues, but ultimately AJ’s uber-heel persona will win out. He has nothing to gain by helping Ambrose when he knows Dean’s headed for another title shot, and therefore might walk out completely when the going gets tough. That would coordinate nicely with the Deadman getting revenge and setting up a must-see matchup for later. When the dust clears, I see Roman teasing a reunion with Ambrose before falling victim to the Dirty Deeds. Then KO scores some kind of lowbrow pin and cements his status as fortunate champion with Raw standing tall. Shield fans will have to wait a bit longer.
Survivor: Kevin Owens for Monday Night Raw
John: I have leaned towards picking Raw in this match since the time it was announced. That’s because of the presence of Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins, who I’m picking as the survivors in this match.
I’m picking Raw to win because Vince McMahon has it in his head that Roman Reigns is going to be his guy. That’s why Roman is going to be booked strong to show his superiority. I’m going to pick Seth Rollins as another survivor since he got screwed out of two PPV wins against Kevin Owens. Have those two guys as the final two men from Raw going against Dean Ambrose on Smackdown, who was left alone after AJ Styles turned on him. Then you can do the follow up story from Smackdown with Undertaker going after Styles since he cost Smackdown the win. They can do Undertaker vs. Styles for the WWE Title at Royal Rumble, for example.
While I don’t have Braun Strowman making it as a survivor, I have a hard time seeing him getting pinned. It will probably be something where he chases Bray Wyatt out of the ring and gets counted out. There’s a chance that Randy Orton may cost Wyatt too. I doubt Orton can stay heel for long, so he’ll probably drop Wyatt with a RKO at some point.
Quick thoughts on the others: Owens and Jericho will probably do a spot where KO accidentally hits Jericho leading to somebody eliminating Jericho soon after to continue their slow split…Shane McMahon probably won’t eliminate anybody, but I expect him to do an elbow drop off the top through one of the announce tables…Rollins should work with Styles for a few minutes just to tease those of us that want to see that match. When they shake up rosters next year that’s a feud WWE should think about…Reigns will probably get two eliminations. Maybe three.
I just posted my Survivor Series 2001 review and that show was headlined by an awesome match with Team WWE against Team Alliance. There were turns, there were cool moments of teamwork and I never got bored of the match after 45 minutes. There’s enough talent in this match to where they can have a classic elimination match that we’re talking about for years to come. I don’t know if it will happen, but the potential is there. It would certainly help if there was something at stake for the winners and losers because I think WWE dropped the ball in that regard. That’s something I’ve complained about for weeks now.
I know fans want a Shield reunion, but on this show it’s about putting over Roman and Seth at Dean’s expense. That makes for an interesting story too. Sorry Dean.
Survivors: Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins (Raw)
John: I’m going into the show with an optimistic viewpoint. I’m hoping for a significant turn or big angle that takes place that gets people talking because that’s what WWE needs right now. If they just make it a regular show without anything special happening then it’s going to a four hour show where people complain about how it ran too long.
If you want more WWE Survivor Series talk as well as discussion on everything else going on in WWE, check out the TJRWrestling Podcast with info on how to listen here (search “John Canton” or “TJRWrestling” on iTunes).
I’m not sure when I’ll have my Survivor Series review up because I will be at the show and may not have time to get it done until Tuesday at best.
Kurt – @KTankTMB
Matt – @MJDP_GSE
Mike – @DharmanRockwell
John – @johnreport
If you want to send an email, send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org as well. Thanks for reading.