Predicting How WWE Will Piss off Fans at WWE Survivor Series 2018
Even on its best days, WWE can't please every single fan. But lately, it almost seems like upsetting the WWE Universe has been the company's primary goal.
Most of the time, the criticism comes from poor or lazy booking, questionable decisions, ridiculous writing and overall bad ideas, but in 2018, this has become the norm.
Following the mess that was Crown Jewel and knowing how tumultuous the build for Survivor Series has been so far, it's safe to say this Sunday's event will irritate fans in a number of ways, whether by pure design or a byproduct of this week's chaotic changes.
Here are just some of the ways you and everyone else watching could wind up being frustrated during Survivor Series 2018.
Superstars with Poor Showings in Elimination Matches
Being a sole survivor can make someone's career, but history has shown that while these matches can be a great tool to put someone over, they can also ruin a wrestler's credibility.
There will be at least 15 eliminations throughout this card, and whenever WWE has a lot of the same thing happening at one time, they inevitably look for ways to spice things up.
One of WWE's go-to booking strategies for past Survivor Series events has been to surprise audiences by taking big name wrestlers and having them fall victim to unreasonably fast eliminations.
Purely shock for the sake of shock, these moments of astonishment have fleeting value. Almost immediately, the wow factor dissipates and fans get angry once they realize how much weaker that particular wrestler looks after taking that fall.
It's one thing for a joke of a team like The Colons to get pinned fast, but if a popular star like Finn Balor taps out without putting up much of a fight, his fans will be furious he was humiliated.
That kind of booking can do severe damage in the long run and for nothing, as they sacrifice reputation for a quick, empty thrill.
The more it happens, the more fans feel deprived of getting what was advertised to them, which is the best of the brands battling it out in competitive matches.
WWE can't approach this as a horror film with jump scares. This isn't about diversions from poor storytelling to trick people into feeling like they saw something good just because they were swerved a bunch of times.
Those shocks aren't enjoyable if they come at the expense of seeing your favorite wrestlers look like fools and the overall quality of the matches going down the drain.
Brock Lesnar vs. Daniel Bryan Is a Recipe for Disaster
Fans have been wanting to see this match for years, but with Daniel Bryan as the babyface underdog taking down the unstoppable Beast Incarnate.
Now that they're both heels, fans have every right to feel disappointed that story isn't happening.
It's even frustrating if you're trying to follow kayfabe and play your part, as there's nobody to root for in a match with two bad guys.
Technically, you can always cheer for anyone you want, but for WWE to paint Bryan as the sympathetic person hinders his turn to villainy by ignoring it for one night. That leaves analysts like yours truly scratching their heads from all the counterproductive booking.
We as a whole don't want to boo Bryan, nor do we want WWE to ignore what happened on SmackDown for one night and then try to go back to it during the SmackDown that follows.
Then, there's the issue of the match quality itself.
Lesnar is formulaic and lazy. Whether by his own choice or a mandate from WWE, all he ever does is have short matches that consist of German suplexes and an F-5.
If, after all this time waiting for this match, what we finally get is the bare minimum copy and paste job we always see from Lesnar, fans will have every right to be furious.
That isn't even addressing how Lesnar's tendency to be careless with his throws and stiff with his punches could actually put Bryan in harm's way. God forbid Bryan suffers another concussion injury and this is the way he goes out for good.
AJ Styles could interfere and fans would be upset about not getting a clean finish, or they could be upset that he skipped Survivor Series entirely.
Bryan could actually make Lesnar tap out and annoy the people who feel like it diminishes Lesnar to have lost to someone so much smaller than him.
This could be a no-contest, irritating fans who are sick and tired of seeing WWE cop out with draws.
Pretty much the only way this would have pleased the most amount of fans would have been if Bryan had gone in as a babyface, wrestled a great match against Lesnar and won, but there is no way those three things are happening.
Charlotte Flair vs. Ronda Rousey and the Sheer Absence of Becky Lynch
At this point, Becky Lynch is unable to wrestle, and her medical disqualification is out of WWE's hands. This isn't the writing team's fault. It's just bad luck and poor circumstances.
Fans will still be angry about that, though, and the match between Ronda Rousey and Charlotte Flair could suffer from people chanting "we want Becky" throughout the entire thing out of spite.
Of course, had the original match gone down and Rousey beaten Lynch, those fans of The Lass Kicker would have been irritated about that, so perhaps this was inevitable.
Some fans might be annoyed that the Rousey and Flair match is happening with no build, too, as this was rushed at the last minute. Plus, the Raw Women's Championship is not on the line, and if you were hoping to see Flair be the one to take it off Rousey, you're not getting your way here.
If WWE is bold and specifically wants to frustrate people, they can choose to retcon the hug between Flair and Lynch, undoing the progress of them moving on and taking two steps backward by continuing the feud.
All it will take is a stupid booking decision like having Lynch cost Flair the match out of spite and fans will see right through it as a poor attempt to try once more to make Lynch a heel.
No promo about how she has to be the one to beat Rousey, not Flair, will make up for the annoyance of going back to the well again and against the wishes of the WWE Universe, who simply do not want to boo Lynch.
The Final Woman on Team SmackDown Is a Dud
Whether WWE planned it from the start or just haven't gotten around to picking someone yet, SmackDown's women's team is missing a member, which is a double-edged sword.
The positive of that final spot being undeclared is that people start anticipating who it might be, speculating on options and wanting to tune in to find out the reveal.
The downside, though, is the more you allow fans to let their expectations rise, the more of a risk you take in failing to meet them.
Someone out there will be hoping for a return from AJ Lee or legends like Trish Stratus. Others will fantasize about a Raw star like Ember Moon jumping ship to SmackDown, or that this will be where Nikki Cross solidifies her main roster spot and graduates from NXT.
Whether it's Bianca Belair, Michelle McCool, Paige or whoever else those fans dream of, imagine how disappointed they'll be if all that hype amounts to nothing and after psyching themselves up for something great, they find out it's just Lana or one of The IIconics.
The most likely outcome is for Mandy Rose to get that spot, and if that's the case, fans will feel cheated that WWE didn't just announce it ahead of time or try to keep her story going from the week before.
This won't upset people as much as the reveal of The Gobbledy Gooker, but WWE can't give fans a mystery and do something generic and not expect people to feel underwhelmed.
Dean Ambrose Interrupts Seth Rollins vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
The match between Seth Rollins and Shinsuke Nakamura assuredly will not go down without some kind of appearance by Dean Ambrose.
WWE knows the match is something of a dream scenario and that these two, if left to their own devices, could put on an amazing performance together, so they'll toy with that for the majority of the segment.
Then, at the end of it all, The Lunatic Fringe will cause some sort of interference or distraction that allows Nakamura to get in a cheap shot and beat Rollins.
Some fans will be pissed about this because they're following the storyline and were rooting for the babyface. To play their part in the feud as spectators, they'd be mad at Ambrose for cheating and screwing over his former friend.
Others will be annoyed just at the idea that this couldn't have a clean finish and that it turned out to be nothing but a means to further build the story of Rollins vs. Ambrose in preparation for TLC, as they'll feel they were the ones cheated out of a true winner.
There will even be some fans of Nakamura who will be upset that he's been largely overlooked for the past few months and was still only able to get a victory with the help of someone else and a tactic like a shot below the belt or a cheap roll-up.
That is, of course, if WWE doesn't just have Rollins win and then get attacked by Ambrose afterward. In that scenario, those Nakamura fans will be wondering why the United States champion couldn't at least get a pity win even through unscrupulous methods.
Shane McMahon Is the Savior for Team SmackDown
When Shane McMahon won the World Cup tournament at Crown Jewel, it didn't exactly go over too well. Instead of being looked at as the babyface who saved the day, he was booed on the next episode of SmackDown.
WWE needs to know that if something similar happens at Survivor Series, those boos will be even louder.
If a team consisting of Samoa Joe, Jeff Hardy, The Miz and Rey Mysterio can't get the job done, but McMahon is the sole survivor and wins the match for the blue brand, it will send fans into a fit, complaining that it's another example of the McMahon family putting themselves first at the expense of the roster.
Even if this is to set up a heel turn, that in itself has grounds to upset people.
There are too many heels on SmackDown, and the idea of a heel authority figure is not only on Raw already, but it's a tiresome trope in general.
Going through a whole elimination match just to get people to boo McMahon in order to do another variation of the same angle we always see on Monday nights is not going to get people excited, it'll just annoy them that this story will be going on for the next few months or longer.
WWE has been upsetting people too often lately and should be looking to make this a fun night, rather than trying to test the waters and annoy people any more. It's time to heal, not anger fans to get closer to that line of not wanting to watch anymore.
Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.