This year’s WWE Survivor Series follows the regular format of the last several years featuring Raw vs. Smackdown matches all night long.
John: The 35th WWE Survivor Series takes place this Sunday night in Brooklyn. It’s another Raw vs. Smackdown show with a lack of storylines for most of the matches, no titles on the line and a lot of fans wondering why they should care about the results. Does “brand supremacy” really matter? The answer is no. I am with the masses who think that WWE could do a lot better in terms of making Survivor Series mean more by tweaking the format, rewarding the winners with title shots or better spots in the Royal Rumble. When I think about last month’s Crown Jewel show, it was a well-built card full of grudge matches and titles on the line. Then you think about Survivor Series and nothing feels that big. It is not the fault of the talent. It’s the creative team that has shown a lack of creativity in getting us ready for this show.
Joining me for the preview are TJRWrestling writers Lance Augustine, Matthew Fowler, Joel McIntyre, and Kelly Dishnow.
(Note: All graphics are from WWE.)
25-Man Battle Royal– Ricochet, T-BAR, Mansoor, Cesaro, Montez Ford, Angelo Dawkins, Erik, Ivar, R-Truth, Drew Gulak, AJ Styles, Omos, Sami Zayn, Humberto, Angel, Apollo Crews, Commander Azeez, Otis, Chad Gable, Shelton Benjamin, Cedric Alexander, Dolph Ziggler, Robert Roode, Jinder Mahal, Shanky
Lance: This was a last-second addition to the show on Smackdown, but it’s a good way to get more guys on the show. There are some interesting names in here like AJ Styles and Sami Zayn. I could see either of them being the last ones in the match. I feel like because this was thrown together, they would just give the nod to a veteran, but I have no idea. They could also use this as a way to put a younger guy over. I will go with Styles who will eliminate Zayn after a nice back and forth.
Winner: AJ Styles
Kelly: Nobody wanted to go on the preshow, so we got this. I expect a faceoff between Azeez and Omos.
Winner – Cesaro
Joel: What does the winner get? Why are we doing this battle royal? At first glance, the name that immediately jumps out is Omos. This battle royal seems tailor made to showcase his dominance. He could win but I’m going a different way. I feel like something is going to come out of this. I’m just not sure what.
Winner: Sami Zayn
Matthew: It is the 25-year anniversary of The Rock’s debut match for WWE. I have no doubt that WWE would have loved to have The Rock at Survivor Series to celebrate this occasion, but could not like things up with The Rock’s busy schedule. So instead, they have decided to do the laziest thing they can do to commemorate it, and have a last minute thrown together Battle Royal in his name. I will go with R Truth to win, because several weeks of him doing a Rock Impression would at least be entertaining.
John: It’s a way to get more people on the show with the explanation being that it’s 25 years of The Rock, so let’s get 25 guys in a battle royal. Fine, I guess. There’s a lot of good talent in here so I’d like to see some of my favorite guys like AJ Styles, Sami Zayn and Cesaro do well. None of them are my pick, though. I’m going with Omos. I know being the biggest guy in the match doesn’t always mean a victory, but I think WWE wants to keep booking him strong, so he’s my pick.
Raw United States Champion Damian Priest vs. Smackdown Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura
Lance: I like both of these guys, although Nakamura has gotten a lot more TV time than Preist has. I thought Priest was in line for a big push since winning the United States Title, but it hasn’t quite come to fruition yet. This should be a competitive match, but like the other matches on the show, lacks any real storyline for us to sink our teeth into. All of the matches on the night don’t have a lot of heat to them, though, so this will be the only time I mention it. Priest could use a win here, and it might be time to give him some quality wins.
Winner: Damian Priest
Kelly: This should be a really good champion v. champion match. It’s a shame there has been little to no build for this. I think they have similar styles and could be a match of the night contender. Nakamura could use some quality wins, but Priest needs those quality wins more to build him up for a WWE Championship run. It will be a hard-fought match, for sure.
Winner – Damian Priest
Joel: This is the one match on the card besides the battle royal that has had zero build and it is a shame because it is going to be a hell of a match. Shinsuke has defended that Intercontinental Title one time since winning it. He seems to be in more tag matches with Rick Boogs than he is singles matches so get the belt off of him and put him in the tag division. Damian Priest has been one of the most protected talents on the roster as he should be. I feel like Priest gets the win here simply because he’s being booked better.
Winner – Damian Priest
Matthew: This match, just like every other match on this card, has zero build or any story whatsoever. In spite of this, I do enjoy both of these guys a lot, and have no doubt that this will be a great match. I just wish the writing teams had given me some reason to care about this match besides that they both can wrestle. I will go with the younger Priest winning the match for the Raw brand.
Winner: Damian Priest
John: Priest is the popular pick because he’s the newer guy on the main roster since this is his first full year on Raw and WWE has booked him strong all year long. Nakamura’s IC Title reign hasn’t been very good through no fault of his own. The problem is the booking since Nakamura has only had one televised title defense in the last three months. Anyway, it’s a face vs. face match, so I expect it to be pretty even the whole way until Priest finds a way to get the win.
Winner: Damian Priest
Women’s 5-on-5 Elimination Match: Team Raw – Bianca Belair, Rhea Ripley, Liv Morgan, Carmella & Queen Zelina Vega vs. Team Smackdown – Sasha Banks, Shayna Baszler, Shotzi, Natalya & Toni Storm
Lance: This one has the potential to be pretty solid. I like a lot of the participants in the match and they all have the ability to go out and have a quality outing. Belair and Ripley should be bigger stars than they are currently and Liv Morgan has been getting pushed a little bit, although it stops and starts like everything else it seems. On the Smackdown side, Banks is a quality star that can do pretty much anything and I have grown to like Shayna Baszler a lot. Toni Storm being added to the match is cool because I am a big fan of hers, but I am assuming she won’t last long in this one. I will take Raw to win only because it seems like the stars are a little more on their side.
Winners: Team Raw
Kelly: My initial thoughts were: “It doesn’t matter who the fifth Smackdown member is outside of an epic call up. Belair and Morgan have the most to gain from this match and will be the sole survivors.” Now that Toni Storm has been added, I still stand by my assessment. Storm should look good in this to build her up for Charlotte. I just wish Aliyah was still on the team somewhere. It would be good to see some new faces on the show.
Survivors – Team Raw: Bianca Belair and Liv Morgan
Joel: One thing I have enjoyed is how members of the 4 Horsewomen are giving the spotlight to underutilized women. Sasha Banks with Shotzi, Charlotte Flair with Toni Storm and Becky Lynch with Liv Morgan. You get to make three new women at one time. I feel like this will be a showcase for Sasha Banks, Bianca, and Liv Morgan. They will get some time because Bianca and Sasha are in the match. I feel like it’ll come down to Sasha Banks against Bianca and Liv and Bianca and Liv will get the victory for Team Raw.
Winners: Team Raw (Bianca and Liv as Survivors)
Matthew: I am torn about this match. On one hand, I am happy that ten talented women get an opportunity to shine on a PPV. On the other hand though I am terrified that the whole match is going to be less than 15 minures long, with eliminations happening way too fast. Hopefully, WWE gives this match the time it deserves and the women can showcase their talents. I will go with Liv Morgan and Bianca Belair being the survivors to give Raw the win.
Winners: Team Raw – Bianca Belair and Liv Morgan
John: I think this will be a pretty good match with Smackdown’s team having more issues than the Raw side. Baszler is a heel, Natalya seems to be in heel mode again and I think newly turned heel Shotzi will screw over Banks at some point to cause Banks to be pinned by the Raw team. Hopefully, Toni Storm gets to eliminate a Raw heel like Carmella or Vega so at least Storm can do something meaningful in the match. When looking at the Raw side, Bianca Belair is booked very strongly for a non-champion, so I see her surviving along with Liv Morgan, who is getting a title shot against Becky Lynch soon. I’m going to add in Rhea Ripley as a survivor as well because she could use some positive momentum as well. I think there’s a chance that Doudrop will cost Belair the win too, but I feel like Belair should find a way to be a survivor here.
Winners: Team Raw – Bianca Belair, Rhea Ripley & Liv Morgan
Raw Tag Team Champions RK-Bro (Randy Orton & Riddle) vs. Smackdown Tag Team Champions The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso)
Lance: Orton and Riddle have been getting a good push as Raw Tag Team Champions and you can tell that McMahon and Co hold them in high regard compared to some previous teams to hold the titles. The Usos have been on the best run of their careers and for the most part, I have been entertained by the stuff they have done. Since they are associated with the biggest act in the company, I will go with them to pick up the win.
Winners: The Usos
Kelly: RK-Bro’s time in the light is short. They’ve been a really fun team together but the split is on the horizon. The Usos are at their best right now. This will likely be the opener. It’s also being promoted as a first time ever match, so it’ll be great.
Winners – The Usos
Joel: This is a sleeper pick for me. I think this will be a great match. Randy Orton and The Usos haven’t wrestled much against each other to my knowledge so it is a fresh match up. The Usos are bulletproof at this point. They can lose and still maintain their credibility by virtue of their alliance with Roman Reigns. I feel RK Bro needs the win more to continue to establish their tag team. I feel like this will be a solid 15-minute match and RK Bro gets the win due to an RKO from Orton.
Matthew: I could just cut and paste what I wrote about the Priest and Nakamura match here. These are two teams that I enjoy watching wrestle, who will also have a great match. This match is also extra special for Orton, who will set the record for most PPV matches ever. Unfortunately for Orton, not only does this match have no buildup or story, I think he will lose as well.
Winners: The Usos
John: This should be a great tag team match. It’s too bad there’s no story and not much interaction leading up to it other than The Usos being on the last Raw. The Usos always have quality matches with teams much less talented than Orton/Riddle, so I have high expectations for it. Congrats to Orton on setting the record for WWE PPV matches with this match too. That’s cool. I think The Usos will control most of the match by working over Riddle, Orton will get the hot tag and the finish should be outstanding with lots of nearfalls for both sides. I’m leaning towards a babyface finish here with Riddle and Orton getting the win. I know The Usos are booked strong, but in a non-title match, they can definitely lose a match like this. The positive momentum of RK-Bro continues.
Winners: RK-Bro (Riddle and Randy Orton)
Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch vs. Smackdown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair
Lance: This has been brewing over the last couple of weeks, hasn’t it? These two have been at odds, on and off camera, recently and I think that builds some solid storylines as far as the in-ring work goes. I don’t think I am going out on a limb by saying that these two are at the mountain top of women’s wrestling and I would go a step further and say I would rather watch this match than a lot of others I have seen lately. As far as the actual match foes, I think they will both be pros, but Lynch picks up the win due to some residual heat on Flair currently.
Winner: Becky Lynch
Kelly: With all of the noise surrounding this match, it is going to be really good. We’ve seen them battle it out many, many times before and they’ve been able to do something different every time. I expect the same to be true here. With the storylines set up for these two after this, the winner becomes clear.
Winner – Becky Lynch
Joel: This is one I’m looking forward to. Will it go smoothly? I think it will. I think there’s legitimate heat between the two, but I also think WWE is amplifying it a bit more than it is to spice up the story. These two never disappoint inside the ring. Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels always delivered despite the heat between them in later years. I expect this to be no different. They’ll likely get around 20 minutes and if they do, it will be a classic. If they can channel even half the magic of their Evolution 2018 match, we are in for a treat. In the end, I think Becky Lynch walks away with this one.
Winner: Becky Lynch
Matthew: Unfortunately, this match has the most intrigue and story behind it, although almost none of it is from what has happened on television. The apparent real-life issues between Flair and Lynch, has caused me to at least be intrigued by what is going to happen this Sunday. Most likely both Lynch and Flair will be professionals, and have a very good match. I will go with Flair getting the win here for the Smackdown Brand.
Winner: Charlotte Flair
John: I’m interested in this match a lot. I remember when they were inseparable as allies and best friends, but now they have grown apart in the last few years due to the competitive nature of fighting to be at the top in WWE. Yeah, the business is a work, but constantly fighting for your spot by proving you’re the best is a real thing that superstars go through. I don’t think personal issues are going to hurt the match. If anything, it might help the match because fans might be more interested to see what happens. They have had several four star level (and higher) matches in the past with the best one coming at Evolution 2018. Do they still have that great in-ring chemistry three years later? I’m not sure, but I’d be shocked if it was a bad match.
It’s tough to pick a winner. Becky hasn’t lost a singles match in several years now, but I think it makes a lot of sense to have Charlotte win. If you want to make Charlotte an unbeatable, egotistical heel champion then having her beat her biggest rival in this non-title match is a wonderful way to do it. Whenever somebody beats Charlotte, it’ll feel like a big deal because Becky couldn’t do it, but that woman could. I’ll say Charlotte wins with a Natural Selection with a hand or foot on the rope to cheat to win. She is a Flair after all. Woo.
Winner: Charlotte Flair
Men’s 5-on-5 Elimination Match: Team Raw – Seth Rollins, Finn Balor, Kevin Owens, Bobby Lashley & Austin Theory vs. Team Smackdown – Drew McIntyre, Jeff Hardy, King Xavier Woods, Happy Corbin & Sheamus
Lance: Of the two elimination matches, this is the one I am more interested in seeing. I am a fan of pretty much every guy on the Raw side, and Smackdown is fielding a solid team as well. This should be a fun back and forth with both teams getting their share of offense in. Austin Theory being inserted into the match is a little bit of a surprise, but he is definitely going to get the rub from the other veterans on the team. As far as a winner, I feel like guys like Woods and McIntyre are held in high regard, and because of that, I would give the Smackdown side the edge.
Winners: Team Smackdown
Kelly: Sheamus’s addition to Team Smackdown is big, but not as big as it could have been. Team Raw is heel heavy while Team Smackdown is more balanced out. Removing the Mysterios was stupid but also pointed out the need for qualifying matches for this instead of announcing the teams on a random Saturday afternoon. Outside of that, this is a rather ho-hum match.
Survivors – Team Smackdown: McIntyre, Woods, and Corbin
Joel: This has been a cluster. There are three people in this match that were not in the original booking of the match. I do like the addition of Austin Theory because it gives you the chance to actually make somebody in this match as opposed to just having a throw-away match with ten top talents. Much like the Women’s match, I see there being two survivors here in Drew McIntyre and King Woods. King Woods is obviously being built up as the next challenger for the Universal Championship, so you have to make him look strong. Yet, Drew McIntyre is obviously being built strong as well. If either of them gets eliminated, I feel like it’ll be Woods. I do think both of them survive, eliminating Seth Rollins as the final member of Team Raw. With Seth challenging Big E, I could see him eliminating Woods to further that story.
Winners: Team Smackdown (Drew McIntyre & King Woods sole survivors)
Matthew: This match’s build has been absolutely horrendous this year. Not only were both team’s competitors changed several times, but neither team has interacted with the other whatsoever. WWE is depending on the same story of “can these guys coexist” that they have been telling for every Survivor Series for over 30 years to make things compelling. I have no doubt that the match quality will be good here, and will go with Lashley being the Sole Survivor for Team Raw.
Winners: Team Raw – Bobby Lashley
John: Since I picked the Raw women to win that means I must pick the Smackdown men, right? That’s my logic here because when it comes to these teams, there are a lot of options. The more I thought about it, the more I kept believing that two Smackdown faces like McIntyre and Woods would be the guys that win for their team. In McIntyre’s case, you know he’s going to get pushed really hard on Smackdown and it’s just a matter of time until he’s in the Universal Title picture. Woods is already in the Universal Title picture as the possible opponent of Roman Reigns at the Day 1 PPV on January 1, so it makes sense for Woods to be a survivor. Since Finn Balor is the only face on the Raw side, I can see him having problems with Rollins or Owens. I think it will come down to Lashley as the lone Raw guy against old rivalry McIntyre and Woods. In the end, I like Drew to pin Lashley after a Claymore Kick. If it gets time in the 30-40 minute range it could be an excellent match as long as it’s booked well.
Winners: Team Smackdown – Drew McIntyre & King Xavier Woods
Raw WWE Champion Big E vs. Smackdown WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns
Lance: This should be a good match. I will say it right off of the top. I like what Big E has been doing and he earned his chance to have a run with the title. Being away from The New Day was new for him since he was in the faction for years, but once he found his footing, it was off to the races. He won the title from Lashley, who was in the middle was a damn dominant run himself, and he has defended the title a couple of times since. I have been singing Reigns’ praises for over a year now, and I don’t even think they have scratched the surface when it comes to his character. My biggest issue is that he is running out of guys to wrestle. Putting him against the champion on the other show is fine, but who is next in line for The Big Dawg? Unless we can smell what he is cooking, Reigns should be the champion for a while longer. Also, I don’t think there is any way he takes a loss here.
Winner: Roman Reigns
Kelly: This is going to be great. The personal feel to the build has been really good. With Roman getting Brock at WrestleMania (again), this is the only place for Roman to pick up a loss and not affect the Universal Title status. Roman obliterating everyone and everything has hurt him and him losing here gives a reset that is needed for his Head of the Table stuff. If Roman smashes through Big E, Roman’s gimmick will pass its expiration at the Rumble and will be barely limping along come Mania. Big E is moving up and needs this win.
Winner – Big E
Joel: This is the main one I’m looking forward to. Big E has been booked pretty well so far as the WWE Champion. Roman Reigns has not been pinned or submitted in singles action since December of 2019. I don’t think it happens here either. I would love Big E to defeat Roman Reigns. I just feel like the next person who beats Reigns will be whoever takes the title from him.
Winner: Roman Reigns
Matthew: This match features the two top guys in WWE going one on one, and honestly should be a much bigger deal than it is. Big E’s title run has been going great so far, as he has shown that he belongs in the main event. As for Reigns he is having not only the best run of his career, but one of the best runs ever. I would like to see Big E get the win here, to cement himself as a main event star. Unfortunately, I do not see that happening, and will go with Reigns getting the win after an excellent match.
Winner: Roman Reigns
John: If I’ve learned anything in the last year and a half it’s that picking against Roman Reigns is a bad idea. I did it a few times. I got it wrong every time. In this case, if I pick against Reigns and get it wrong then it’s not going to cost him the Universal Title, so that’s why I think it’s a possibility. I’m still going with Reigns, though. I think it would be massive for Big E to win and then it could lead to a possible WrestleMania match, but WWE probably has Brock Lesnar penciled into that spot since I feel like The Rock isn’t likely and is only a maybe for the following WrestleMania in Los Angeles (go Rams). Anyway, I think they will definitely have a great match with Big E putting up a big fight, maybe Reigns kicks out of a Big Ending, then Big E kicks out of a Spear and Reigns has to put him away with a guillotine choke or something like that. We have seen The Usos help Roman win title matches many times, so it could be another of those situations, but I think if The Usos show up then King Woods (and maybe Kofi Kingston if he’s back) will try to take them out.
I know that throughout the show we can say the storylines have sucked, but at least they did something with this match on Smackdown, which saw Big E & Woods beating up Reigns in the ring. That also made me more confident in my choice. I’m picking Reigns to win in about 20 minutes, but it’s certainly not a lock. I think they might have the match of the night and the kind of match that leaves us wanting to see it again. I’m very excited for Big E in a PPV main event and feel like he’s going to put on a great performance with Reigns, who he has known for like a decade since their WWE careers started around the same time a decade ago.
Winner: Roman Reigns
The Match I’m Looking Forward To The Most
Lance: I will go with The Raw Men’s Elimination Match, but Reigns vs. Big E is intriguing as well.
Kelly: Big E/Roman Reigns.
Joel: Big E vs Roman Reigns.
Matthew: Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair.
John: Men’s Elimination Tag Team Match and Reigns vs. Big E about the same.
The Match I Care About The Least
Lance: Priest vs. Nakamura.
Kelly: Battle Royal.
Joel: Battle Royal.
Matthew: Battle Royal.
John: Battle royal. Other than that late addition, I’ll go with Priest vs. Nakamura. I like both guys. It’s just a cold match with no story.
Lance: Men’s Elimination Match.
Kelly: Big E/Roman Reigns.
Joel: Big E vs Roman Reigns.
Matthew: Men’s Elimination Match.
John: Men’s Elimination Tag Team Match for about 35-40 minutes.
Lance: RK-Bro vs. The Usos.
Kelly: Women’s Survivor Series match.
Joel: Women’s Survivor Series match.
Matthew: Battle Royal.
John: Everything should get more than ten minutes. I’ll go Priest vs. Nakamura for about 12 minutes.
Excitement Level on a Scale of 1-10 (1 being low, 10 being high)
Lance: I am going with a 5 on this one. Normally, Survivor Series is one of my favorite shows of the year, but over the last couple of years, it has just turned into brand vs. brand with no stories, and it’s hard to get pumped for it.
Kelly: 8 – I wish that the Survivor Series would revert back to its old format, 5 on 5 elimination tags. You can still do the brand v. brand without the need of doing a battle royal to get more people on the show. This card is pretty solid and I’m hoping for really good things to come out of it.
Joel: 6. I’m looking forward to essentially three matches. Big E/Roman, RK-Bro/Usos, and Charlotte/Becky. There are other elements of other matches I’m interested in such as how King Woods and Liv Morgan are booked knowing they’re the likely next challengers for their respective titles. The problem is, Survivor Series has no stakes. I don’t mind the Brand vs Brand stuff as much as some. Just put some stakes behind the matches. What do the winners get? What incentive do they have? Make it matter. It’s very simple. If not, then do away with the concept. I do think the matches will be good all night long. I just wish we had a reason to get invested in this pay per view.
Matthew: 4. On paper this should be a good to great PPV, with lots of good wrestling. It is unfortunate however, that there are no stories besides the stupid brand supremacy for any of the matches. WWE needs to try harder when building their PPV events, or they are going to lose the battle for brand supremacy to AEW.
John: 7. I think the match quality should be pretty good up and down the card. I think there will be some very good in-ring action on this show. The men’s Survivor Series elimination match is always great while the women’s matches tend to be a bit worse, but there is talent there if it’s booked well. The stories for the elimination tag team matches are the repetitive “will they get along?” angle and it’s just not that thrilling. I think Big E vs. Reigns and Lynch vs. Flair have the potential to be outstanding matches, so that’s what I’m looking forward to. I just think in terms of stories, Survivor Series is lacking and that’s going to hurt a lot of people’s interest in this event.
John: I’ll be back with a review of WWE Survivor Series on TJRWrestling.net on Sunday night, so check that out live or any time after it’s over.
If you want to send an email, send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org as well. Thanks for reading.