WWE has been barely skirting through its biggest slump period in years. With many fans being turned away by the ever-insulting booking and welcomed by the up-and-coming opposition of AEW, Survivor Series really needs to be a hit this year. As has been a general trend throughout the company’s history, when Vincent K. McMahon is in panic-mode, he knocks it out of the park with some genius decisions. This year was no different, he panicked to the point of allowing Triple H to call-in his NXT troops to takeover RAW and SmackDown Live.
With NXT added into the fray of brand warfare, the attention of fans across the world was captured and the build to Survivor Series started to become the most talked about subject across the wrestling fandom. ‘Developmental’ talent like Tommaso Ciampa, Pete Dunne and The Undisputed Era were making their main roster debuts and stealing the show. Suddenly, the landscape of WWE was re-invigorated.
Even though this is likely a short-term storyline that peaks and concludes at Survivor Series, it’s been a hell of a ride. Getting to see our favourite indie darlings dominate the hot-shot superstars of RAW and SmackDown, and then witness the leading stars of the main roster storm the gates of Full Sail has been a pleasure to watch.
Hats off to you WWE, you earned my £9.99 this month.
As the big pay-off draws closer, we’re going to run down the entire card and throw down our predictions for this year’s dose of brand warfare.
1. RAW vs. SmackDown vs NXT – Traditional Survivor Series Matches
I’m going to bundle the two traditional Survivor Series elimination matches together to save on me repeating myself. Ultimately, I believe that the only reason NXT has been involved in brand warfare this year is because they’re looking to make a name for themselves as their own entity. With the Wednesday Night Wars starting to heat up with an ever-prevalent battle for ratings, WWE’s prime weapon in NXT needs to be put over in a big way to start bringing more viewers over to Fox on Wednesday nights.
Vince is most likely looking to attract more of the casual audience to NXT, as well as maintaining his established hardcore fanbase that tune in to NXT each week. The stars of NXT need to shine during the most pivotal matches, and that of course means they need to be walking out of the elimination matches as victors.
With both a male and female team for each brand, there’s a lot that could go right on Sunday. There’s such a deep wealth of talent heading into these matches that there’s no doubt in my mind that we’ll see some of the most intense, exciting wrestling matches of the year.
There’s a few X-factors heading into the pay-per-view, we’ve still yet to see the two NXT teams officially announced for Sunday and Triple H has hinted at a potentially ‘shocking’ addition to the card which we won’t know of until the night itself.
Either way, NXT desperately need to come out of this event looking stronger than ever. There’s a chance that WWE could pull one of their classic tropes of the valiant home heroes standing tall over the resilient invaders, but where would that leave NXT going forward? There’d be no urge for anyone to see these up-and-comers as the future, especially if they’re second/third best to the present.
Winner: NXT (Men’s and Women’s)
2. Becky Lynch vs Bayley vs Shayna Baszler
Now, if NXT are walking away with the two biggest wins of the night, there’s got to be a couple of occasions where another brand is put over. In this case, I believe we’ll be seeing ‘The Man’ walking away with the victory over the other two dominant Women’s champions.
The real story heading into this match is the inevitable clash between Becky Lynch and Shayna Baszler. WWE have done a great job in putting over Baszler as a huge threat; highlighting both her incredible year-long reign as well as her undeniable presence.
RAW needs to come away with at least one win, and with Becky Lynch now vying for the flag-bearer’s spot on the main roster, there’s no better candidate. It seems that Bayley’s role in this match is to eat the pin, so we can at least keep Shayna strong for her eventual singles bout with ‘The Man’ down the line.
Winner: Becky Lynch
3. AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura vs Roderick Strong
There’s no way this match can disappoint. Not only am I very excited to see a heel Styles in the ring with a heel Nakamura, but adding a heel Roderick Strong into the mix only adds to the sheer amount of hype going into this champ vs champ vs champ match. Again, if NXT are walking away with two very big Survivor Series wins, this match should definitely go to either the United States or Intercontinental Champion to soften the blow.
As much as I’m sure all three men have a valid reason for walking away with the win, I believe it should go to AJ Styles. After all, he has already trumped Nakamura in their feud last year, and with the O.C. at ringside, they could easily pull a dirty win over Roddy.
AJ has a natural presence to him in WWE that shouldn’t be taking any losses anytime soon, especially if they want to build him and The O.C. up as a potential main-event feature. Styles has done wonders for the US title in recent months, so lets not allow that to go to waste, give him a big win over two very game opponents.
Winner: AJ Styles
4. The Viking Raiders vs The New Day vs The Undisputed Era
Another big interpromotional champion vs champion triple threat that I’m very excited for. We already know that The Viking Raiders and Fish & O’Reilly can knock it out of the park, so seeing them tangle with The New Day is going to make for a very interesting addition to the Survivor Series card. I’ll admit, I am slightly bummed about us not getting The Revival in this match, but hey, Kofi and Big E deserve to find themselves on the card somewhere after the incredible year The New Day have had as a collective.
With that in mind, why not give SmackDown Live at least one win and allow Kofi a slither of redemption. The New Day could be the blue brand’s saving grace coming out of Survivor Series, and with this big win over the other two sets of tag champions, it could definitely set them up for another run at the WWE or Universal Championships.
Regardless, The Undisputed Era need to make a name for themselves here, showing that they can hang with the likes of The Viking Raiders and The New Day will go a long way in establishing them as a major threat for whenever they make their return to the main roster.
Winner: The New Day
5. Brock Lesnar vs Rey Mysterio – WWE Championship
In a slightly shocking turn of events, we won’t be seeing the triple threat between all three brand’s major champions. Instead, we’re being treated to three separate, intriguing championship matches that could all be fantastic matches in their own right. First up is the clash between WWE Champion Brock Lesnar and his challenger, Rey Mysterio.
This feud has quickly turned into a very personal battle between the two mis-matched opponents. Rey and his aspiring wrestler son Dominic have both been on the receiving ends of trips to Suplex City. Lesnar has beaten both of them from pillar to post and left a trail of destruction behind him. Even Cain Velasquez could quell ‘The Beast Incarnate’.
Rey will now have his opportunity to face down Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship at Survivor Series. With Brock trading brands with the sole intention of getting his hands on the legendary luchadore, and Rey lobbying for the stipulation of ‘No Holds Barred’ to be added to the contest, this could well be one of Lesnar’s most exciting grudge matches to date.
As much as I’m sure we’d all love to see Rey Mysterio finally hold onto the WWE title for more than just a few hours, I somehow don’t see him toppling Brock. There could indeed be some shenanigans that cost Lesnar the match, but let’s face it, it’s Brock Lesnar.
Winner: Brock Lesnar
6. ‘The Fiend’ Bray Wyatt vs Daniel Bryan – WWE Universal Championship
A strange addition to the card has come in the form of ‘The Fiend’ defending his Universal Championship for the first time against Daniel Bryan. Bryan was originally involved in a simmering feud with Shinsuke Nakamura and Sami Zayn, but has quickly been removed from the mid-card and shoe-horned into a rivalry with Bray Wyatt.
We all know just how much chemistry these two have in the ring together, but I imagine this title fight is going to be a totally different match to their Royal Rumble clash in 2014. Bryan is taking the final steps towards his babyface turn, a match with a dominant Fiend could definitely help get those last few fans behind him once again.
The Fiend should definitely not lose this match. After defeating Seth Rollins and trading to SmackDown Live, Wyatt has been put on the pedestal that he has well and truly deserved since debuting his Firefly Funhouse gimmick. If anything, Wyatt is holding that championship all the way up to WrestleMania, so fans of the Yes Movement should probably hide behind the sofa for this one.
Winner: The Fiend
7. Adam Cole vs Pete Dunne/Killian Dain/Damien Priest – NXT Championship
It was recently announced that Pete Dunne, Killian Dain and Damien Priest will do battle at TakeOver: WarGames to determine the next in line for a shot at Adam Cole’s NXT Championship. It seems that WWE are looking to make the most of the cross-branded theme and allowing the NXT title to be defended on a main roster pay-per-view for the first time, with the winner of the triple threat flying in as their challenger.
I personally believe that ‘The Bruiserweight’ will take the cake in the TakeOver triple threat, and will go on to face Adam Cole at Survivor Series. The Pete Dunne fanboy in me will go nuts for seeing the native Brit showcase his very best on the big stage; a huge moment for the longest reigning champion of the modern era. Adam Cole would be a fantastic main roster opponent for Dunne, having had history in a feud between British Strong Style and The Undisputed Era in 2017.
There’s of course an equal chance for Dain or Priest to make it into the match, with both being highly regarded on NXT TV, but this should go to Dunne, who’s a star in the making. Regardless of who wins the triple threat, I doubt they’ll be walking away with the NXT Championship. Adam Cole is an absolute juggernaut that is currently the best candidate to serve as the face of the brand.
With NXT hopefully at the receiving end of a massive rub at Survivor Series, Adam Cole should walk away as the sole flag-bearer for the brand.
Winner: Adam Cole
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