We’re still a week and a half away from WWE’s next PPV offering. Survivor Series will take place in Houston on November 19th. As WWE is anxious to remind us all, it’s the one night of the year that SmackDown Live stars battle with those from Raw (unless AJ Styles gets drafted due to a viral outbreak).
Since it’s brand vs. brand, no championships will be on the line. Instead, the WWE Universe will be treated to a number of “Champion vs. Champion” matches, where nothing but pride is on the line.
In last week’s piece, I said that WWE made a mistake in announcing the champion vs. champion matchups with the names of the performers in the promo. For example, instead of touting Jinder Mahal vs. Brock Lesnar, it would have been better to promote the WWE Champion vs. the Universal Champion. It sounds more prestigious, and gives the company some wiggle room. WWE has addressed the issue somewhat while putting a number of the belts on the line in the weeks leading up to the show. For example, Charlotte Flair will take on Natalya for the SmackDown Women’s Championship next Tuesday. The winner will take on Raw Champion Alexa Bliss (who has already defended her title) on Tuesday.
There have been some other last-minute adjustments to the card as November 19th draws ever closer. Most of the changes have been for the best, and the card is looking better than it did two weeks ago. However, with a couple of (relatively) minor changes, Survivor Series could end up as WWE’s best PPV of 2017.
The Professor’s Survivor Series Done Right
The Usos vs. The Bar (Tag Champions) – Until Monday night, this was set to be The Usos vs. two-thirds of The Shield. The Bar grabbed the belts when New Day invaded Raw for the second time in three weeks, and distracted Rollins and Ambrose. What Should Happen: I’m good with this match. The Bar has a brawling style that matches up well with The Usos. This could end up being one of the matches of the night. Also, this frees up The Shield for something later on.
Baron Corbin vs. The Miz (Midcard Champions) – This is an interesting matchup. Miz has been the best heel in WWE for the majority of 2017, and will face SmackDown’s lead heel, Corbin. Corbin’s progress has come in fits and starts, and a win over Miz would give him some much-needed momentum coming out of Survivor Series. What Should Happen: This one also works for me. I feel like Miz could stand to take a loss here, but Corbin really can’t. If I were booking it, Miz would be getting the best of Corbin, with help from the Miztourage. Then, the ref would eject Miz’s henchmen, and Corbin would pick up the win after that.
Natalya vs. Alexa Bliss (Women’s Champions) – Natalya is an unsung hero in the Women’s Revolution. While Bayley, Sasha Banks, Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch have been credited for bringing a new level of athleticism to the Women’s Division, Nattie has been having great matches for years. That said, she’s not a great matchup for Bliss. Bliss is a natural heel, and really needs a babyface to play off of. Since Nattie is also a heel, it’s not an ideal situation. What Should Happen: Charlotte Flair takes on Natalya for the SmackDown Women’s Championship on Tuesday’s show. The Queen should prevail there, and go on to face Bliss at Survivor Series. Putting the belt on Charlotte would solve a few problems for WWE. She’s a better matchup for Bliss, who is a budding star. Bliss could take a loss to Charlotte without losing any momentum. She couldn’t really take the same loss facing Nattie. Charlotte is best as a champion, as seen from her dominant runs on Raw. Putting the belt on her automatically raises the bar on SmackDown, and makes it a better matchup should Ms. Money in the Bank, Carmella, decides to cash in her briefcase.
AJ Styles vs. Brock Lesnar (Top Champions) – WWE dodged a major bullet here. There was some tepid buildup between Jinder Mahal and Paul Heyman, but this match always looked like a squash for Lesnar. With Styles as champion, the intrigue goes through the roof. It also avoids a heel vs. heel matchup (if you consider Lesnar a heel). What Should Happen: This was what virtually everyone in the WWE Universe was hoping for when Mahal vs. Styles was announced for Tuesday’s show. Lesnar tends to put on a better show when he faces a foe he respects. Styles certainly fits that description. Not to overstate it, but this has the potential to be one of the best matches in Survivor Series history. It doesn’t even really matter who wins, as long as the bout is competitive.
SmackDown vs. Raw (Men’s Elimination Match) – As of this writing, the SmackDown team consists of captain Shane McMahon, Randy Orton, Shinsuke Nakamura, Bobby Roode and John Cena. The Raw squad is made up of captain Kurt Angle, Braun Strowman, Finn Balor, Samoa Joe and Jason Jordan. As with the Styles/Lesnar clash, it doesn’t really matter who wins this match. What matters is the order and method of elimination. WWE can make stars of out Nakamura and Roode here, as long as they resist the temptation to feed them to Strowman at the start of the match. What I’m most afraid of is seeing it come down to McMahon vs. Angle with everyone else having been eliminated. What Should Happen: First of all, Jason Jordan should be removed from Team Raw for his own good. Jordan hasn’t been on the roster long enough to look like a star in this group. Having him in the match, only to be the first man eliminated would only bury him. Conversely, having him eliminate several opponents on his own won’t get him over with the WWE Universe. The crowd isn’t buying Jordan yet. Pushing him too hard will risk the crowd turning on him ala Roman Reigns. The difference is that Jordan isn’t at Reigns’ level. Ideally, everyone looks solid here, with McMahon and Angle somehow eliminating each other at the beginning of the match. Orton and Cena should be used to put over some of the younger stars here. In fact, I’d have Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn somehow interfere in the match, leading to Orton and Cena being counted out while chasing them around the arena. When the dust settles, I’d be perfectly happy with anyone not named McMahon, Angle, Orton or Cena as the sole survivor here.
SmackDown vs. Raw (Women’s Elimination Match) – The SmackDown team is captained by Becky Lynch. The others on the team at this point are Charlotte, Naomi, Tamina and Carmella. The Raw team consists of captain Alicia Fox, Sasha Banks, Nia Jax, Asuka and a star to be named later. This is a bit tricky. The good news is that both Nia Jax and Asuka really need to shine here, and they’re both on the same team. That keeps them from having to face off against each other, at least right now. Everyone on the SmackDown team is relatively well-established, with the possible exception of Tamina. Look for Asuka to somehow become the sole survivor. What Should Happen: First off, Charlotte should win the SmackDown Women’s Championship from Natalya on Tuesday. Then, Daniel Bryan will simply have them switch places on the card. Then, since Raw captain Alicia Fox is crazy, she announces that she doesn’t need five women on her team to beat SmackDown’s squad. When it’s time for introductions, Bayley’s music will play, and it will be announced that Kurt Angle has added her to the Raw team. The Raw squad should then systematically start eliminating the SmackDown team until only Lynch remains. As Jax and Asuka start to stalk Lynch, Bayley hits Fox with a Bayley-to-Belly suplex and leaves her lying there, easy prey for Lynch. With Fox eliminated, she screams at Banks, Jax and Asuka to go after the treacherous Bayley. Banks refuses, only to be clubbed to the mat by Nia, who tosses her out of the ring. Banks is counted out while Bayley tries to keep away from Asuka and Jax by sliding under the bottom rope to ringside. She’s attacked by the outraged Fox, and ends up being counted out. Jax powerbombs Lynch, Asuka pounces on her and applies the Asuka Lock. Lynch is forced to tap. The two remaining Raw superstars, Jax and Asuka stand on opposite sides of the ring and stare each other down.
Though it hasn’t been announced yet, I think there should be one more match added to the card.
The Shield vs. The New Day (Impromptu Bragging Rights Match) – Assuming Roman Reigns is healthy enough to compete, this should be put on the card. The New Day can come down to the ring after a SmackDown victory in any of the early bouts, and start mocking the Raw roster. Just as they really get going, The Shield’s music hits, and the Hounds of Justice make their customary entrance. The crowd will go insane for this, and it could end up being the best match on the card. Even if Reigns can’t go, Rollins and Ambrose should take on the SmackDown trio in a handicap match. It really doesn’t matter who wins here, as long as it actually happens.
Next time, we’ll take a look at any changes to the card and do a more official Survivor Series preview piece. Until then…