5 Booking Decisions WWE Must Consider Ahead of Survivor Series 2019
Looking beyond Clash of Champions and Hell in a Cell, WWE's next tentpole event will be Survivor Series 2019, set for November 24.
Since the show will set the tone for 2020 and much of The Road to WrestleMania's build depends on its success, the company cannot afford to botch it.
Poor planning and a lack of foresight will turn this from a great source of momentum for Raw and SmackDown to a disaster that warns fans to stay away from WWE for the next few months.
The company has a lot on its plate, but it cannot let Survivor Series slip by. Now is the time to start thinking ahead of what to do for the fall classic to ensure it does not come off rushed and sloppy.
Here are some booking decisions WWE must keep in mind while heading toward Survivor Series 2019.
Both Brands Must Be Allowed to Shine
Last year was embarrassing for SmackDown, as WWE booked the blue brand to lose every match.
Technically, SmackDown did win one match, but the company retrospectively ruled it invalid under the bogus explanation that it was on the Kickoff show and didn't count.
No storylines came out of this or justified such a weak showing for SmackDown. All WWE accomplished was reiterating its obvious favoritism toward Raw and reinforcing the perception that both the preshow and SmackDown have little value.
With SmackDown going to Fox in October, devaluing the brand cannot happen again.
The brands should be equal in Survivor Series, with the points tied until the final match. That makes for a more interesting event, as fans will be more invested if there isn't a mathematical no-win scenario for one side like last year's clean sweep.
Ideally, SmackDown should win to erase some of the damage from last year's fiasco and help boost its credibility in its new home at Fox.
How Will the Wild Card Rule Work During the Build?
The Wild Card Rule has nullified what makes the brand split special by allowing wrestlers to switch between shows. If not handled properly, this could also ruin Survivor Series.
A big part of November's PPV is the invasion that typically happens between the brands during the go-home week, but why would that matter if every episode of Raw and SmackDown already features wrestlers from the rival camps?
To keep things interesting, a reason to temporarily suspend the rule should be worked into the build.
The pressure of Survivor Series should slowly start to influence things after Clash of Champions on September 15, with non-roster members being alienated and bullied when appearing on the opposing brand's program.
Hazing the enemy could get so far out of hand by the night after Hell in a Cell on October 6 that the Wild Card Rule is put on hold to keep everyone apart, allowing tension to simmer for the next few weeks.
Fans will then be able to look forward to the inevitable invasion, and the chaos will make Survivor Series a must-see event.
Plan Ahead for Champion vs. Champion Matches
WWE must plan well in advance for the best champion vs. champion matches and not switch titles in a last-minute rush to fix a weak lineup.
For instance, unless the plan is for Seth Rollins to pull double-duty, he must drop either the Universal or Raw Tag Team Championship in enough time to establish the new champion's credibility.
If Bayley vs. Sasha Banks is scheduled, Charlotte Flair must lose at Clash of Champions while The Boss should beat Becky Lynch to allow time for a rematch at Hell in a Cell.
AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura are both heels, and if we assume a babyface will dethrone one of them prior to Survivor Series, WWE should already have a plan for who that will be. Ideally, this is what The Miz is being set up for, so he can build momentum as intercontinental champion and not come off as a late replacement.
These title changes should come naturally, rather than as an impromptu solution to a problem that foresight would have prevented.
What Role Will the Women's Tag Team Champions Play?
As the women's tag titles are cross-branded, there is no scope for a champion vs. champion setup.
This means WWE has a choice of putting the titleholders in an elimination match, keeping them off the show entirely, or scheduling some sort of alternative match for them.
If there is room on the card for the latter option, the titles must be put on the line against an opposing brand's team to continue the theme of brand competition.
For example, if Raw's Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross are still champions, a SmackDown team such as Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville should be the challengers.
WWE would need to factor that into planning the elimination match's participants as well as counting this as another point in the tally of Raw vs. SmackDown matches.
What Is the Incentive for Brands to Win?
The battle of the brands has been mostly for bragging rights, but that is losing its steam and has no value with the McMahon Family controlling everything rather than general managers competing against each other.
This year, something should be put on the line as an incentive for rosters to put aside their differences to win.
Be it priority Royal Rumble booking with the winning brand assured the No. 30 spot, or even something as simple as a monetary bonus would work as a motivator.
Plus, if WWE wants to make the entire roster hate someone like Daniel Bryan, having him selfishly screw over his team would put him at odds with everyone, including the other heels.
With something actually up for grabs, every match becomes more important and Survivor Series as a whole gets an upgrade.
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.