By Anish Vishwakoti, Prowrestling.net Staffer, (@AVX_9001)
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WWE Universal Champion Brock Lesnar vs. WWE Champion Daniel Bryan: Just as in 2017 we headed in to Survivor Series with one opponent for Universal Champion, Brock Lesnar, but on the Smackdown before the show, WWE executed a title change and a new champ was subbed in. Last year, AJ Styles beat Jinder Mahal to win the title and the right to face Lesnar, and this year as he prepared face Lesnar again, Daniel Bryan beat him at the very last opportunity and took his place. Of course, what is just as unexpected is Bryan’s heel turn which came as he low-blowed AJ and stomped on him to win the title.
It’s extremely strange to think that Bryan will finally get this match against Lesnar that he has been talking about for years, but he will go into the match as a heel, rather than as the much beloved babyface that we all expected. Regardless of the circumstances, I have to believe that the crowd in LA will welcome a champion Bryan with open arms as opposed to a champion Lesnar. It will be interesting to see how WWE books this match with a now heel Bryan. Because of the lack of build-up, I feel that WWE officials don’t know how to handle this and will take the safe route of having AJ interfere so that Lesnar gets the win, thus Bryan doesn’t have to start his championship reign with a clean loss.
Brock Lesnar defeats Daniel Bryan.
Charlotte Flair vs. Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey in a non-title match: Another much anticipated matchup that is coming far sooner than expected and under strange circumstances. After Smackdown Women’s Champion Becky Lynch was legitimately injured on Raw, her bitter rival Charlotte has subbed in to face Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey with the pride of Smackdown on her back.
With Lynch hurt, the obvious choice was to pair Rousey with either Flair or Asuka, and honestly, I think this scenario, while unfortunate for Becky, may be a blessing in the long run. For the longest time, speculation was that Charlotte vs Rousey was the match to make for the main event of WrestleMania 35, but with the recent surge in popularity of Lynch it seems that Lynch vs Rousey may make even more sense for Mania.
That’s why it was so surprising to me that Lynch vs Rousey was made for Survivor Series, and now with Charlotte being subbed in, it almost makes a match between Lynch and Rousey later down the line even more perfect for Mania. As for this match at Survivor Series, it doesn’t make sense to me that Charlotte would win, even though the old wrestling trope of the replacement winning could come into play. I see Rousey and Charlotte having a great match, but with Rousey eventually getting the submission victory in the end.
This could be a good opportunity for WWE to turn Ronda heel after the match, maybe not letting go of a submission. It certainly would make sense considering Rousey’s UFC persona was far more heel-leaning, and with Lynch’s popularity a heel Rousey heading into Mania would make more sense.
Ronda Rousey defeats Charlotte Flair and turns heel post-match.
Intercontinental Champion Seth Rollins vs. U.S. Champion Shinsuke Nakamura: I don’t think much needs to be said about this match other than I am really looking forward to it, but am harboring my expectations because I see Dean Ambrose getting involved towards the end of the match. WWE did not give Nakamura a lot of air time to taunt Rollins. Rollins himself has been far more focused on Dean Ambrose and the whole Shield storyline. Like many Nakamura matches in WWE, the story really seems to be: “Watch this match, because Nakamura is a legend,” which we have seen has led to underwhelming matches in the past.
I’m also not convinced that WWE has any real plans for this other than as a platform for Ambrose to get under Rollins’ skin, therefore I see the match being great for 15 minutes or so before Ambrose costs Rollins.
Shinsuke Nakamura defeats Seth Rollins.
Raw Tag Champions AOP vs. Smackdown Tag Champions Sheamus and Cesaro: Another match that has had very little build up due to either an injury or a recent title change. This time AOP only won the tag titles from Rollins two weeks ago, and meanwhile on Smackdown, Sheamus and Cesaro have been embroiled in their rivalry with The New Day.
With the Big Show being paired with The Bar in recent weeks, I actually think WWE may be able to do something fun with AOP and Big Show here, it could be a good way for AOP to look strong by beating The Bar as well as Big Show, and if WWE don’t go this route I have no clue at all what they could do with this match considering they haven’t built it up at all. All I will say is that this match certainly could be good, but I have no real expectations fr it. It would also do nobody any favors if for some reason The Bar win.
The Authors of Pain defeat Sheamus and Cesaro.
Buddy Murphy vs. Mustafa Ali for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship: This is a match that can really steal the show. Ali and Murphy have both been on fire recently and their respective performances on 205 Live have been really great. Ali has been working essentially on his own to build up a following, and his self-made promos have been entertaining to watch.
Murphy has also been doing himself a lot of favors since joining 205, building up to his championship win in Australia. WWE has a big opportunity here to firstly put these guys on the main card, and secondly, advertise the hell out of 205 Live. If they give Ali and Murphy a fair amount of time, which they absolutely deserve considering the amount of build up this match has relative to many others, we could really see something great here that gets eyes on 205 Live.
With the rise that Ali has been on, I believe he needs the title more than Murphy, whose heel persona allows him to maintain momentum even if he loses. While WWE could certainly keep Ali’s win on hold until another time, I see Ali getting the cruiserweight championship here at Survivor Series.
Mustafa Ali defeats Buddy Murphy to win the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.
Team Raw: Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntyre, Finn Balor, Bobby Lashley and Braun Strowman vs. Team Smackdown: The Miz, Shane McMahon, Rey Mysterio, Samoa Joe and Jeff Hardy in a Survivor Series elimination match. Unlike the last two years, we haven’t seen either of the men’s teams invade the other brand. The stakes for this match also are pretty unclear, and I think that because WWE didn’t anticipate all the other changes to this show, this match did not have the best.
The storylines on each show have been focused on the internal rivalries between the members of each team. I can certainly see Ziggler and McIntyre getting into it with Balor and Lashley. On Smackdown, I see Shane’s seeming evolution into a heel character taking precedence, and ultimately costing Smackdown the match as Strowman leads team Raw to a victory.
Team Raw defeats Team Smackdown.
Team Raw: Mickie James, Tamina, Nia Jax, Natalya and Ruby Riot vs. Team Smackdown: Carmella, Naomi, Asuka, Sonya Deville and TBA in a Survivor Series elimination match: While this storyline had the big invasion angle on the go home Raw, the most entertaining part of that was the Lynch and Rousey angle. Because of the make-ups of each team, there isn’t a clear direction that I feel this match can go. The most likely outcome in my mind is Nia and Tamina wrecking house and being the sole survivors for team Raw.
As for the mystery partner on team Smackdown, I feel WWE will go for a safe option and have either Peyton Royce or Billie Kay take that fifth spot, while I could be optimistic and say that maybe Kairi Sane or another NXT wrestler could get the call-up, it seems more likely that one of the Iiconics will fill in, and it all comes to nought anyway because the two monster heels on Raw need the win far more than anyone on Smackdown.
Team Raw defeats Team Smackdown.
Team Raw: Bobby Roode and Chad Gable, The Revival, The B-Team, Lucha House Party, and The Ascension vs. Team SmackDown The Usos, New Day, Sanity, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, and The Colóns in a Survivor Series elimination match: I understand why WWE does this match in that it rounds out the series of traditional Survivor Series matches and gets a lot of wrestlers on the show, but this one is just the epitome of how to not build up a match. Even though this is on the Kickoff Show, I would have liked some storytelling beyond simply the Usos leading team Smackdown in a promo on the go home Smackdown.
Either way, since I have Raw winning the other two Survivor Series matches, I see Smackdown taking this one, and it does make sense considering the Smackdown tag division is simply more compelling than Raw, which has pulled up a 205 Live tag team, and includes B-Team, who have not had more than five minutes of air-time in weeks.
Team Smackdown defeats Team Raw.
Check below for the latest Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and John Moore discussing WWE Survivor Series and NXT Takeover: War Games.