Booking Decisions That Will Make or Break WWE Survivor Series 2018November 16, 2018
Booking Decisions That Will Make or Break WWE Survivor Series 2018
Despite a less-than-stellar build, WWE Survivor Series 2018 still has plenty of promise and could be one of the company's stronger shows all year. However, the right booking decisions must be made in order to ensure that happens.
Similar to past installments, this year's Survivor Series will carry a theme of brand supremacy, pitting the stars of SmackDown Live and Raw against each other. Although nothing is on the line except for bragging rights, the matches themselves are sure to be blockbusters.
Sunday's card at Staples Center in Los Angeles saw a seismic shift this past week when Becky Lynch suffered an injury on Raw and was forced to pull out from her bout with Ronda Rousey. Charlotte Flair filling in for the SmackDown women's champion is an equally monumental match, but it lacks the same excitement that Lynch and Rousey managed to generate from fans.
The very next night on SmackDown, Daniel Bryan ended AJ Styles' record-setting reign as WWE champion and turned heel in the process. Now, Bryan will take Styles' place in the champion vs. champion main event against Brock Lesnar.
Even with the current card, Survivor Series should be an entertaining event, but whether WWE will allow it to live up to its full potential remains to be seen.
SmackDown Live Must Reign Supreme over Raw
Stephanie McMahon made it a point to mention on Monday's Raw that Team Red has reigned supreme over SmackDown Live the last two years at Survivor Series. It was a weird stat for her to bring up, considering the blue brand actually won more matches than Raw at the 2016 installment.
In reality, the two brands are tied with one successful showing apiece at Survivor Series, yet the company is clearly telling the narrative that Raw is the superior show for a reason. Yes, WWE always has and always will look at Raw as the flagship show and SmackDown as second-best, but that doesn't necessarily have to be the case on television.
After all, SmackDown has the better roster right now and has been the more tolerable show for many months. Therefore, it is only logical for them to get the advantage over Raw for a change by winning more matches at Sunday's pay-per-view.
It isn't important which matches WWE chooses to have SmackDown go over in, but as long as the end result is SmackDown earning the bragging rights over their rival brand, that is what matters most.
Dean Ambrose Must Interfere in Seth Rollins vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
Seth Rollins vs. Shinsuke Nakamura has been set in stone for Survivor Series for weeks, yet Rollins' rivalry with Dean Ambrose has been all that anyone has been able to talk about lately—and rightfully so.
Rollins and Ambrose have been far and away the most compelling program on Raw in months, but they likely won't be wrestling until TLC in December at the earliest. In the meantime, the intercontinental champion will have his hands full with Nakamura at Survivor Series in what will be their first encounter.
Ambrose's absence from the Survivor Series card is hardly surprising. It's expected he'll interfere in Rollins' outing against Nakamura, and in order to ensure Rollins is protected in defeat, Ambrose should unquestionably factor into the finish.
Although everyone will be waiting for The Lunatic Fringe to show up ringside, Rollins and Nakamura should be given an ample amount of time before then to contest the barnburner of a bout they're capable of. From there, Ambrose can give Nakamura the assist and cost his former friend another major victory.
This shouldn't be a case like at Crown Jewel where Ambrose is nowhere to be found. His rivalry with Rollins is among the best things going in WWE today, and for their feud to not be furthered on Sunday in some form or fashion would be criminal.
Brock Lesnar vs. Daniel Bryan Must Be Given a Chance to Steal the Show
For weeks, Brock Lesnar vs. AJ Styles was slated for Survivor Series, with the story that Styles was aiming to avenge his loss to Lesnar from last year. Their classic champion vs. champion clash on last year's show was one of WWE's best bouts in 2017, and they were looking to top themselves in the anticipated rematch on Sunday.
Then, out of nowhere, Daniel Bryan worked his way into the match by knocking off Styles for the strap on SmackDown Live this past week. It was quite the shocking turn of events, and on top of that, Bryan went heel by hitting Styles with a low blow and proceeding to attack him afterward.
Bryan is in line for a major heel push coming off the event, but for now, he should have his sights set on toppling The Beast Incarnate. He has not shied away in the past from calling Lesnar his ultimate dream opponent, but as the old adage goes, be careful what you wish for.
Lesnar has been on an unstoppable roll for over a year-and-a-half, annihilating everyone who has stepped up to challenge him. Roman Reigns was the only Superstar who managed to beat Brock, but everyone else has fallen short—and Bryan will be no different come Sunday.
That said, Lesnar vs. Bryan can be a real fun match if given the chance to steal the show. Lesnar working his tired two-move formula would a waste of Bryan, so instead of lasting five minutes or fewer, this main event-caliber contest should see Bryan truly take Lesnar to his limit before being beaten.
Drew McIntyre Must Be the Sole Survivor for Team Raw
Few former NXT stars have been better protected on the main roster than Drew McIntyre, who has been involved in a handful of high-profile matches since returning to Raw earlier this year. He and Dolph Ziggler wasted no time in dominating the Raw tag team ranks and capturing the Intercontinental and Raw Tag Team Championships.
However, The Shield's abrupt breakup last month has given several Superstars the opportunity to prove themselves and claim that top spot left behind by Roman Reigns. McIntyre has benefited more than anyone from Reigns' absence by joining Team Raw at Survivor Series and embarrassing Kurt Angle.
The rest of the squad will consist of Ziggler, Finn Balor, Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley. All of them have something to gain from winning for Raw, but McIntyre would make the biggest statement by being the sole survivor for his team.
Ever since scoring that huge victory over Angle, McIntyre has had major momentum and appears to be on the fast track to superstardom on Raw. He is only one or two more monumental wins away from vying for the Universal Championship, and a strong showing at Survivor Series could be exactly what he needs right now.
Stephanie McMahon's promise to Strowman on Monday's Raw that she will grant him whatever he wants if he wins on Sunday was designed to give fans the impression that he will be the sole survivor, but that spot should belong to McIntyre.
Seeds Must Be Planted for Upcoming Four Horsewomen vs. Four Horsewomen Feud
It has been apparent for well over a year that WWE has had interest in building to a Four Horsewomen of WWE vs. Four Horsewomen of UFC match eventually. Now that Ronda Rousey, Shayna Baszler, Marina Shafir and Jessica Duke are all officially signed to WWE, it's more a matter of when than if it will become a reality.
There's no better time to start planting the seeds for that major attraction than at Survivor Series.
Becky Lynch was originally supposed to wage war with Rousey, but an injury will prevent the SmackDown women's champion from competing. There shouldn't be anything stopping her from making her presence felt at some point during the matchup, though.
Despite their past bad blood, Charlotte Flair and Lynch seemed to bury their hatchet on Tuesday's SmackDown. Charlotte can claim that Lynch earned her respect with Lynch beating her so many times over the course of their feud, leading to Lynch helping her out against Rousey at the event.
Sasha Banks and Bayley getting involved isn't imperative but they might as well, considering they aren't set to appear at Survivor Series as of now. Plus, Baszler, Shafir and Duke will all be in L.A. for NXT TakeOver: WarGames II, so there's no reason for WWE to not begin planting the seeds for a future faceoff between the two factions Sunday.
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.