There were few reasons to get excited about WWE Survivor Series 2017 when the build began at the end of October, but the current card has plenty of promise with AJ Styles vs. Brock Lesnar now in the main event slot.
Simply put, the previously announced match of Lesnar vs. Jinder Mahal had zero redeeming qualities. It was an odd clash of styles, and nothing about the build-up indicated they would work well together as opponents.
Needless to say, WWE made the right decision by taking the WWE Championship off Mahal and putting it onto Styles, effectively changing the headlining match for Survivor Series. Not only was Mahal not jelling as champ to begin with, the sudden change in direction makes the event feel must-see.
What makes this match with Styles even more important for Lesnar is that he has yet to win a match at the event. He made his Survivor Series debut in 2002 and suffered his first defeat at the hands of Big Show, thanks to a betrayal from his associate Paul Heyman.
The following year, he was swiftly eliminated from a five-on-five tag team match by Chris Benoit with his team going on to lose to Team Angle. He returned to the ring at the Thanksgiving weekend classic in 2016, being beaten by Goldberg in under a minute and a half.
All that said, Lesnar's streak of less-than-stellar Survivor Series outings is bound to end at this year's installment considering who he will be squaring off with. Styles has rarely disappointed during his WWE tenure from an in-ring standpoint, and this upcoming bout with Lesnar should be no exception.
There is little dispute that Styles is one of, if not the best wrestler on either Raw or SmackDown Live today. His instant classics with the likes of Roman Reigns, John Cena, Dean Ambrose, Shane McMahon and others are well-documented, meaning he can always be counted on for a quality contest.
In fact, he achieved what seemed to be an impossible task on the Nov. 7 edition of SmackDown Live: getting a good match out of Mahal. It was the most memorable matchup The Modern Day Maharaja has had since becoming champion, largely because Styles sold so well for his offense and left the crowd hanging on every nearfall.
If Styles can manage to have an above-average WWE Championship match with Mahal, it is virtually a guarantee he can give Lesnar his best bout in years at Survivor Series 2017.
As incredible of an athlete as he is, Lesnar isn't the most reliable performer when it comes to match satisfaction for fans. Since 2015, he has mainly relied one formula, and while him suplexing his opponents always elicits a reaction, it has been done to death over the years.
His WrestleMania 33 match with Goldberg as well as his one-on-one encounter with Samoa Joe at Great Balls of Fire were a refreshing change of pace from what we usually expect from a Lesnar match because he came across like an underdog for once. That was also the case at SummerSlam 2017 when the odds were stacked against him in a Fatal 4-Way for the Universal Championship.
Of course, he won't be in a similar situation at Survivor Series (the size difference between Lesnar and Styles is pretty apparent), but the common thread in these matches is motivation. When Lesnar is fired up, he is a freak of nature inside the squared circle, and Styles is bound to bring that out of him.
It isn't often Lesnar faces someone significantly smaller than him, though he had one of the greatest matches of his career at SummerSlam 2013 when he battled with CM Punk. On paper, it appeared to be a massive mismatch, but they ultimately had phenomenal chemistry together and produced a Match of the Year candidate.
Granted, Punk and Lesnar had told a stellar story heading into that event, whereas Lesnar vs. Styles was confirmed for the card only one week ago. Nevertheless, a lack of storyline won't stop them from ripping it up on the grand stage of Survivor Series and stealing the show.
If Lesnar's days in WWE truly are numbered, he should be having his premier performances on his way out, and this marquee match with Styles will ensure that.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, is an Endicott College alumnus and aspiring journalist. Visit his website, Next Era Wrestling, and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.