By Jason Powell
The Team Raw vs. Team Smackdown format is a mess. The only people who seem to have brand loyalty are the authority figures, the broadcast team members (aside from Mauro Ranallo crossing over to call the Raw brand pay-per-view’s Kickoff show match), and now Undertaker. The crowd has no reason to root for one brand over the other. I assume the formula will be for most of the elimination matches to come down to babyfaces vs. heels so that the fans will have a rooting interest unrelated to the brands. There are years when the WrestleMania hype starts so early that I look forward getting through the show so that we can finally move forward. In this case, I want the elimination matches to end so that we can get back to babyfaces vs. heels rather than this mess of a format.
Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg: Most months, I dedicate this space to writing about how the main event looks really good on paper from an in-ring standpoint, yet WWE dropped the ball when it came to the storyline build. In this case, WWE actually did a terrific job with the build and promotion, while I have no idea what to expect in terms of match quality. Aside from the hiccup of expecting Minneapolis fans to boo Brock, the appearances of Goldberg, Lesnar, and Paul Heyman went very well. I was always lukewarm whenever the idea of another Lesnar vs. Goldberg match when it has come up over the years, yet I find myself looking forward to this match far more than the average WWE pay-per-view main event. While I have no idea why WWE can’t get it right with their full-time wrestlers, it’s nice to know that they can still deliver strong spectacle match hype. As far as the outcome, Lesnar has to win if there’s a clean finish. They could have Shane McMahon or whomever Lesnar’s WrestleMania opponent will be interfere to help Goldberg win, but it would be foolish to have Goldberg return for a one-off and win clean.
Brock Lesnar wins.
Team Raw: New Day, Enzo Amore & Big Cass, Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows, Sheamus & Cesaro, The Shining Stars vs. Team Smackdown: Heath Slater & Rhyno, American Alpha, The Usos, The Hype Bros, and Tyler Breeze & Fandango: Team Raw is such a mess. The most popular guys in the match will be Canadian heroes and WWE heels Owens and Jericho, and the least popular guy will be Vince McMahon’s choice for top babyface. Creatively, WWE provided hooks for both potential outcomes. First, Stephanie McMahon teased firings and changes if Team Raw loses. On the go-home show, Undertaker teased that there will be hell to pay if Team Smackdown loses. If Raw loses, my money is on Stephanie firing Mick Foley, whom she pointed out as being responsible for the decision to wager the entire cruiserweight division. However, I’m going with Team Raw to get the win. Taker already endorsed Shane, so my guess is that he ends up blaming Styles for the loss.
Team Raw wins.
Team Raw: New Day, Enzo Amore & Big Cass, Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows, Sheamus & Cesaro, The Shining Stars vs. Team Smackdown: Heath Slater & Rhyno, American Alpha, The Usos, The Hype Bros, and a team to be determined in a Survivor Series elimination match: As awkward as it was to see the Usos suddenly playing babyfaces and chumming it up with the guys they intentionally injured, the story seemed to be that the Team Smackdown members are on the same page. Conversely, Gallows and Anderson already stated that they will stab their teammates in the back. Sure, there could be a swerve and I honestly couldn’t care less if there is. The Raw vs. Smackdown theme is awful. I’m just hopeful that this match will be used as a showcase for American Alpha.
Team Smackdown wins.
Team Raw: Charlotte, Sasha Banks, Bayley, Alicia Fox, and Nia Jax vs. Team Smackdown: Nikki Bella, Becky Lynch, Naomi, Alexa Bliss, and Carmella in a Survivor Series elimination match: I still can’t get past the bizarre miscasting of Bayley being a thug by having her take part in a five-on-one beatdown of Nikki Bella. Sigh. Anyway, this strikes me as a chance to showcase Nia Jax as the monster of the division.
Team Raw wins.
The Miz vs. Sami Zayn for the Intercontinental Championship: Raw doesn’t need two secondary championships. That said, it’s not like Smackdown has a deep mid-card, so it’s not like they can’t get by without a secondary championship. The decision to put the title back on Miz leads me to believe that he is champions so that he can lose the title to Raw rather than having that burden fall on babyface Dolph Ziggler. Plus, it gives Daniel Bryan more ammunition in his ongoing war of words with Miz.
Sami Zayn wins the Intercontinental Championship.
Brian Kendrick vs. Kalisto for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Here’s hoping the cruiserweight division ends up where it should have been in the first place. It makes logistical sense to have the cruiserweights move to Smackdown given that the 205 Live show will be broadcast from the same venue as Smackdown Live. So rather than asking the cruiserweights to go from Raw to Smackdown every week, now they can simply work the Tuesday night shows. Plus, I have no doubt that Smackdown will do a much better job with the cruiserweights than Raw has. The formula of the champion and his challenger in one segment, and a throwaway six-man tag match in another just isn’t doing anything for anyone.
Kalisto wins the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Kenny Herzog discussing his journalism career, his new Outside Interference podcast, doing a feature story on CM Punk, pro wrestling in the pandemic, WWE talk on Retribution, The Hurt Business, Roman Reigns as a heel, and much more...